Military mama: Store memories within, not in closet

Each year as it starts to warm up I get that urge to purge, clear out the clutter in my home. The first few bags of trash are always easy to go. This is the junk. The things that I would feel embarrassed to donate to a charity, more than likely because one of my children disabled, dismembered or decorated at least a portion of each item.

Then we get on to the ‘good cause’ stuff. These are the items that help not necessarily for everyday survival, rather for ease and enhancement. Can you live without a waffle maker? Of course, but wouldn’t it be nice to have had waffles this morning? These are also the things that I happily pass on to someone in need. Whether it be an airman just moving out of the dorms, or a first-time mom that could use a few convenience items.

We get to the next layer and there is the possibility of partial reimbursement. What objects are these? Things that we spend decent money on, with the intent of using, loving and getting basic value to justify the initial expense. Sometimes it just turns out wrong. It’s a bad fit, probably a good solid product, but just not for you. These are the danger items for me because I’m often tempted to hang onto them until I can get something in return for them.

Toys have their own category. It is like I’m discarding an ancient artifact each time I attempt to weed through my son’s room. He clings to each toy as if it were the best thing that ever happened in his five years on earth. So I have to get stealthy and eliminate a few toys at a time while he is otherwise distracted. Occasionally, I get busted and the drama that ensues is hardly worth the few inches of space I’ve cleared up.

As I gather and sort. The piles grow. Boxes are filled and often sit waiting for drop offs at thrift stores or pick ups from a family in need. And sometimes they just sit waiting for me to take the next step, posting pictures online or documenting the inventory so that someone knows what they’re getting. It hardly seems progress at all.

Finally, I battle the nostalgic pieces. The items that have sentimental value, but truly serve no purpose than to take up space, and gather dust. These are the trickiest for me. I’m a sap. I associate objects with events. I know that this is the key to becoming a hoarder and I am doing my best to avoid ever earning that title. Looking around my house though, I definitely realize I’m far closer than I’d like. That thought alone initiates the next round of garbage bags because I simply cannot go there. Clutter — this means war.