I want a Good Fairy

sherrmannAugust 11, 2008

I just read the posts about cleaning the laundry room, the "dumpster lady" and "vacation prep." I laughed. I'm glad I'm not the only one in the boat. What I can't figure out is why the women I know in person all live such clean, organized, uncluttered lives. Sometimes I wonder what they say about me.

It is getting chaotic around here. A little more than a year ago I moved a lot of my mom's stuff that I couldn't part with into my house, and I still haven't dealt with it properly.

And now: Youngest dtr graduated from college in May; in two weeks she is going to Korea to teach for a year. She has been moving ALL of her stuff back into our house. Next dtr moved back in when she graduated three years ago (which has been wonderful) but is expecting to buy a house with her fiance in another city within the next 2 or 3 months.

I have never been good about organization, but this is getting ridiculous! I keep thinking "I could use this" or "She'll only be gone a year, and she'll need her bed and dressers, etc. when she returns."

I'm the best procrastinator in the world and I'm very good at making excuses. Here is my wish: I want The Good Fairy to come in and do the work for me, but let me make reasonable decisions about what to keep. This good fairy will come with infrastructure, a stern but gentle hand, a good sense of humor and plenty of patience. She will know how to use many tools (hammers, drills, paint brushes.) She will be anxious to refinish the furniture I want refinished, she will file and organize my paperwork in beautiful new file cabinets she will provide, she will do heavy lifting and will refinish the hardwood floor in one bedroom. She will have a truck big enough to haul all the ap-cray to the dump.

All of this will cost me nothing because we are close to broke and will take less than a week because I would like my house to be nice again. I should get off my duff (and the computer) and get to work! BUT I DON'T WANT TO!!!!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This will be like the blind leading the blind, but I am going to offer a few suggestions!
Until the good fairy of your description appears to you (I'm not saying one does not exist . . .) your family is the best substitute! Show DDs 1 and 2 what you have posted here and tell them you need their honest reaction.
ASK the Korea-bound DD whether she wants the bed and dresser when she returns. If she says no, believe her! Yes, she may change her mind, but would it really be so impossible to cross that bridge when you come to it - after living in splendid tidiness for a year?
ASK bride-to-be DD to look the house over carefully and tell you what things have special meaning to her or would be useful to her in her new home. If they are things you want to part with she can take them.
Tell both DDs you intend to list your unwanted furniture on Craig's List or put then in a consignment store or otherwise sell them - gone forever - and ask if they will support your decisions about what to keep and what not to keep.
Make a beginning wherever it is easiest for you. Once you start the process and see a few square feet of cleared real estate you will gain courage and the resolve to continue.
It is difficult to be objective about the usefulness to YOU of old, familiar family objects. There is so much emotion tied up in *things*. One good litmus test is to ask yourself whether you feel happy (yes HAPPY, good positive feelings!) when you look at an object? If you feel neutral, maybe you keep it. If you feel anything negative or you begin to remember something that makes you sad then get rid of it. Don't question yourself about this; you don't need it in your life that much, even if it is "useful".
It will get easier the more you sort and clear out. There will be difficult days - that's to be expected. It will be worth it. New ideas about what you want in your life and how you want to live will come to you with increasingly greater ease as you move forward. I'm pulling for you!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 8:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

well, we could be the *Bad* Fairy and haunt you, until you *did* get off your duff.

I too wish I had someone who could come help. I once had a friend who (this is important--she had the time) was single, and was both supportive & tough. I had her help me clean out my clothes closet (her reward for giving me her time was all the clothes i'd gotten too fat for, that she wanted).

She was both encouraging of my efforts and affectionately scornful of my urges to hold on to clothes that were slightly worn, didn't fit, whatever.

But she moved, and she got married so even if she didn't live here, she might not have that time. Then again, she might, bcs she needed me to help her w/ stuff too, and I did set aside that time, even though I had kids, etc.

That sort of a friend is invaluable--hard to find, easy to lose (to logistics, etc.).

You sound like you're at such a crossroads, almost in limbo--with daughters whose lives are about to change, and change again. That's throwing you off a lot.

I keep wanting to say, "remember this," "do that," "start here," but then I remember the Dumpster Lady and her gratuitous advice at every conversation point, and I stop. So if you *want* any suggestions, you'll have to ask.

In the meantime, I'll just say, "Boy do I hear you! I want one of those fairies, too, and I wish we lived in the same town, bcs I'd swap w/ you. I'd come be your fairy for the 2nd week of September, if you'd be mine for the 4th week."

And I'll say, "You'll find a way to deal w/ all this extra stuff from OTHER people; be of stout heart!"

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 8:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You're right, Talley Sue, about the crossroads; that's exactly what it is. I'm very afraid that my life will be changing, too, for many reasons. I don't want that to happen, so I think I'm postponing or trying to ignore the inevitable. I have to get my house in 'dying order.'

Before she left for work this morning, I asked bride-to-be to think about what she would like to take when she moves (whenever that is...) She lit up and said "Grandma's lamps and Margaret's bed!" without even thinking about it. All I had to do was ask! She is very well-organized and strong as an ox, so this weekend she, Margaret and I are going to do some good work. That is how I'm making my beginning, Elizabeth. Later today I'll call all the other kids to ask the same question and see what happens. Meanwhile, maybe I'll get the laundry done and take care of a few small things so I'll be READY to start Friday evening. I'm babysitting grandkids today, which always makes me happy.



    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 10:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wondering where do they keep all their stuff. In their rooms or all over. If anywhere but in their rooms have THEM put it in there.

As far as your Mom's stuff I know that it is hard because of emotional ties. You do have to remember that they were your mom's choices and not yours. Are you keeping them because you love them or because they belonged to her. If only because they belonged to her don't think that you need to keep them because they aren't her, just stuff. My mom just recently passed away and I only took a few mementos.

My suggestion would be to start in one room and decide if you love it or keeping it for other reasons. If you love it and can't live without it, it stays. If you are just keeping it because you may need it later, let it go now. It does help to have a friend that isn't emotionally involved to help you decide. I know that it is easier said then done but once you START making decisions it does get easier because you start seeing results and breathe easier.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 10:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Remember on TV on Bewitched, Samanta would wrinkle her cute little nose and the house would clean itself. All clutter jumped away, furnitiure was straightened, and the vacuum would run by itself. I just want Samantha's powers.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 5:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Melissa Houser


It sounds like you've already made a good start by involving your daughter in the decision-making process. If the girls decide they don't want something that you'd like to get rid of, don't put it away for "later". It is your choice what stays and what goes.

In 2004, I went through a very similar process to what you are dealing with as far as mother's things. My brother and I took a UHaul to mom's house and anything he didn't want, we loaded into that truck. I brought home a 27 foot box trailer loaded to the gills.

We unloaded it all and I went through the stuff from the truck, replacing anything I wanted to in my house with the things that came from mom's house. Dishes, yes. Beds, no. Towels, yes. Tablecloths, no.

Once I'd decided what I wanted, I put anything I didn't want in my carport and called family members to come take their pick. Kind of a free yardsale. If someone had already mentioned they wanted something specific and I didn't want it, then that person got first dibs. If they passed on it at that point, that item went out to the carport as well. (I live in Florida, and this was in the dry part of early summer, so no worries about rain.)

I left everything on my carport for a month, which I felt was more than enough time for all of the family members to pick up anything they wanted. At the end of the month, I let everyone know that Goodwill was coming in 3 days to pick up anything still on the carport. After Goodwill picked up everything they could/would take, I donated the rest to a local Safe Space thrift store. The very last of it was 2 boxes, if I remember correctly.

My mom was one of 17 kids, and all of them have at least one or two adult children and quite a few adult grandchildren, so there were a BUNCH of people going through the stuff on my carport. Four years later, I still find it cool when I walk into a cousin's house and see mom's curtains or mom's old kitchen bowls in use.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 11:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it must be hard to get rid of your parent's things.

But I think it may also be easy to assign emotional meaning to something that doesn't *have* it--it was just the item they happened to own at the time they died.

My aunt sent me things that had been my grandma's when she died--but you know, that rose-themed bathroom set (soap dispenser, soap dish, tooth glass, tissue box) wasn't something she was emotionally attached to. It was simply the version of them that was in use at the time she died. If she'd lived 2 more years, she'd have gotten something different.

Hard to see sometimes, but true.

I know that after I consulted w/ my mom (her daughter), it was possible for me to just toss them. (they were not that attractive, frankly; and Grandma hadn't even picked them out for herself, they were a gift, so they only "sorta" reflected her taste).

But then, I have the glass cookie jar she used for all of my childhood, and it is the thing I would save in a fire.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 12:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It took days to write my original post because I felt like such a whiner and couldn't get past it, but I'm so glad I wrote. Everything you all say is so true and so...I don't know, useful both emotionally and organizationally.

One thing I have mislead you about is Mom. She didn't die last year, she moved to a nursing home because of severe short-term memory loss. Though I feel guilty saying this, I think it would be easier to deal with her things if she had died. I know she'll never use these things again, but she loved them. Many of her things were things she had acquired from her parents and grandparents, thus have great sentimental value for her. I, of course, didn't know many of her grandparents, just the stories about them. Nevertheless, there is no reason to keep all these boxes of odd dishes, etc., that her gmothers won in Bingo games. My brothers and their kids don't want the stuff, my kids have what they want, so I guess the rest of it goes. Soon. After all, those boxes are neat and not taking up THAT much room.....

I feel much better having resolved the bed issue. The dressers are another matter, but Ann (the b-to-b) would also like to take a kitchen table! I have been mentally arranging things and deciding what goes and what stays (and where).

The thing to do is get rid of what none of us can use now, no saving for later. Easy enough to say. I keep thinking about my sons and their new houses and maybe they could use this or that. It's very hard to get unstuck. I even considered printing your responses and posting them around the house, but Ann looked at me strangely and said, "But, Mom, aren't we trying to get rid of stuff? Just keep reading it in the computer." Oh. OK.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 9:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Things that you no longer need or want get rid of today. You will feel so much better and your sons can get what they want when they are ready. Put them on Craig's List or freecycle and people will come and pick it up.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 1:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I signed up at Craigs list. Now I have to get nerve enough to post something! I'm tttrrrrembling!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 5:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Melissa Houser

Shermann, Your son's wives/girlfriends would probably have different taste than you or your mother anyway. :)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 7:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I signed up at Craigs list. Now I have to get nerve enough to post something! I'm tttrrrrembling!"

Sherrmann - You have reminded me that I too need to get busy and list some things! How time slips by when I am "busy" not following through on well-laid plans. Today I'm going to take photos and write up an ad for this weekend.

Congrats on enlisting the family troops and all your great progress.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 8:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Once you start it will get easier and easier. The starting part is the hardest. Good luck you can do it.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 2:06PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Anyone know of good boxes (plastic?) for storing papers?
I've been purging DD's school work and paper crafts...
More organizing for my Mom
My Mom's apartment has cheap, inefficient kitchen cabinets....
How do you let go of stuff that's worth money?
On the "share your success" thread, taft...
Getting rid of part of an item- WWYD
Okay, here's the question: I have a larger, aluminum...
Are there lateral file cabinet organizers?
I have a new lovely two drawer lateral file cabinet...
Sponsored Products
2" Fauxwood Blinds. Free Samples and Shipping!
$38.00 | Blinds.com
Contemporary Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug: LR Resources Rugs Senses Shag
Home Depot
Bloom Round Pendant
Maeve Harris 'Furioso I' Oversized Canvas Art
Beige Memory Foam Visco Elastic Contour Pillow & Cover
$29.99 | zulily
Feiss Concord 3-Light 21" Wide Nickel Bath Light
Lamps Plus
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™