I am not on board with Marie Kondo, and minimalism is definitely not my thing. Don’t even talk to me about a new way to fold.
I am a maximalist, and I want table lamps, extra pillows, snuggly blankets, houseplants, embroidery, art, sparkly light, and colors everywhere. I don’t want linen, I want velvet.
I need every pair of wool socks I own, and the 37 lipsticks in my makeup bag all get used. I don’t think it’s possible to own too many tunic-length sweatshirts. I am perfectly fine saving jeans that fit the summer before last but now can’t go up above my knees. And it might not fit ever again, but I am keeping the dress my mom made for me in high school. Most of our sewing projects take so long to finish that the outcome is some tiny version of our past self, but this one fit me for years and served as my presentation/interview/adult outfit over and over. I have dreams about arguing with my own daughter and somehow convincing her to wear this dress. Some of the clothing I own might not fit or currently be stylish, but it reminds me of other times, and I will keep it until the memories no longer serve me. Plus, being completely frank, winter me is usually fatter than summer me, and I need clothing to accommodate both sizes.
I admit that when The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo became popular, I was intrigued. I come from a long line of hoarders of free napkins, ketchup packets, and wet wipes. My people have been saving and repurposing and reusing for all time.
My genes scream THAT MIGHT BE USEFUL LATER when I go to discard an extra packet of soy sauce.
That old t-shirt would make a great wipe for cleaning the windows. The shoes that give me blisters are still new, and I probably should hold onto them just in case I need shoes. I was raised to use things up entirely, and to save extras just in case. There wasn’t a lot of “extra” and being frugal was a lifestyle. Does this mean I have to have a bag of toilet paper and paper towel spools? Probably not- but what if we want to make a pinball machine or tunnels of some sort? Stained and burned dish towels become cleaning rags faster than my cleaning rags can wear out. And then when I see a great deal on toothbrushes, I feel compelled to buy them. We change our toothbrushes every 5 months or so, and could probably do that without any new purchases for a couple of years. Hoarder, or compulsive planner? Perhaps both.
Part of my problem is that I am a work from home single mom. Any given day, I have too many tasks to accomplish. All urgent-ish. If I divide them into categories, every day I have:
- house cleaning
- cleaning up after my child
Regularly, but not daily I try to:
- buy groceries
- repair the endless little things that go wrong in any house
- schedule and attend all doctor and dentist appointments for my daughter and me
Not to mention everything else I’m forgetting or neglecting. There’s no question that I have a lot that needs to be accomplished. I find, however, that I can’t do everything I want, and instead, I am forced to pick a few areas to focus on. So, if we have a good meal, and I accomplish significant work, and I exercise, I might not have a lot of time to address the pile of mail on my table. When I attack my mail and pay my bills, I am able to volunteer and also get some work done, but dinner might be blueberry pancakes. This is just what the life of this single mom looks like.
Just like any parent, it’s all about prioritizing. Unlike most parents, however, I do it all, alone, and with no break.
This doesn’t mean I have it worse than anyone else. Feeling lonely while you’re married is much worse, in my opinion, than being president and CEO of my home.
To be honest, as much as they irritate me, addressing my piles of clutter isn’t too high on my list.
They bother me because they are an eyesore, and also because they represent more tasks that I am failing, every day, to accomplish. Priorities, right? Some might see new spices on my counter, this is, in fact, a tedious project of replacing expired spices with fresh ones. The box of Pirate’s Booty on my counter is just there because I unloaded it from my car and never made the final step of storing the snack. I am so grateful for the food in my home and my ability to work, but Mama’s just got too much to do, folks.
In my dreams, my house is filled with soft, velvet cushions in pink, rose, mustard and turquoise. Houseplants fill every corner and rugs bring each room together. The piles of clutter, and what they represent, my never-completed tasks, are assigned a location and are completely out of sight. A floral soy candle or a natural beeswax candle is burning somewhere my cats can’t mess with it. My daughter and I are free to cuddle on the couch and watch America’s Funniest Home Videos, the only show that can make both adults and children laugh. This would make me feel content, I think.
Spills wouldn’t stain because everything would be colorful, there would be no drafty spots, and the warm light from my antique floral table lamps would make the room glow. I have never known a house like this, but parts of my imaginary home come from my mom’s house, where the couches are always cozy and welcoming for a daytime nap and my old neighbor’s house who had bowls of fruit on the counter and every possible snack in the fridge. My grandparents’ soft carpet was the perfect place to play or to lie down to watch tv. Plants everywhere remind me of my childhood when I lived in the Caribbean, and the sweet scent from the candles mimics night-blooming jasmine.
Marie Kondo would enter my home, sigh deeply and contentedly, and sink into the couch to relax. She’d bury her toes in piles of soft blankets. I might even make her some tea. My home, my palace of colors and patterns and feminine excess would be a sanctuary of love and peace.