It all started this winter, when I found my daughter creating a makeshift desk in her bedroom out of stools and serving trays. I mentioned to her that she could probably have my desk, seeing as I have sat at it a total of two times in the last three years. I’m rarely upstairs, except to sleep and put away laundry and clean- all of which don’t happen often, so the desk was abandoned and useless to me. She was thrilled about the idea. The kid has been bugging me about it ever since.
But life is busy and if I were to be honest, I have much more important things to do with my time. This wasn’t my priority, but it was hers.
“I just don’t have the time!” I’d say. She’d sigh in irritation.
Fast forward to this past Saturday, the very first morning we had nowhere to be. The girl woke up nice and early and was inspired to make this change now. Once I eventually got out of bed, she had already cleared out and “rearranged” her room with piles of crap pretty much everywhere. She was deep in the project, once I arrived on the scene.
This was not my plan for the morning.
Two hours later, we had packed up her American Girl dolls, all their clothes, chairs, bunk beds and tea sets. We had sifted through clothes and toys from years ago that had been tucked safely under her bed or jammed in her closet or stashed in baskets and containers. Now we had somehow created a bigger mess with tubs and furniture spreading from her room to the hallway…
We ran out of time, so we left the carnage behind as we spent the rest of the day out of the house. We returned around 10:00pm to the construction zone, where my girl and her friend climbed over the wreckage and plopped into bed.
“Mom, can you please clean out your desk so I can have it tomorrow?” she begged.
“We have church all day, but sometime tomorrow night I will get to it,” I sighed. I couldn’t handle this mess for another day, but I had no choice. It would have to wait until tomorrow.
The next day after church, I tended to the task, which I thought would be an easy job—I hardly had too much to clean out, because the desk is quite small.
I began to take off the piles of books and paperwork and pictures that layered the top of my desk. I then started to pull out the folders and files that were in the cubbies underneath. I started reading through pages of medical papers and letters to my kids, sorting through bank statements and old job evaluations. I sat on the floor of my bedroom with about 10 piles of well-organized choices: trash, recycle, find a place for it, take to my bookshelves, etc.
I was off to a good start, but I was slowly realizing that I had a bigger project than I thought when I began this task.
Where will I put these papers? I had a brilliant idea! If I clean out the medicine shelves in my armoire, I could put them in there!
I opened the armoire and went to town, realizing that there were several medications that expired in 2012. I needed to sort through and purge the mass quantities of bottles and pills that were issued years ago.
I also spotted some hidden jewelry boxes I had forgotten about, which I opened and started to sift through, reflecting on when and where I wore them all.
I took the newly discovered jewelry over to my main jewelry box on my dresser and opened that up to see if I could fit it all in. Nope. So I started to clean out my main jewelry box to purge unwanted earrings from the ’80s and tarnished cheap rings from those college days of wearing way too much junk on my weighted-down fingers.
I left a few more assorted piles of jewelry on the dresser and went back to the armoire where I found an old pair of my daughter’s glasses from kindergarten. What a treasure! I went back to my daughter’s room to find the bin of her old things and pulled it out of the closet to put the glasses in. I spotted her huge bin of dress-up clothes in the corner and thought, she surely doesn’t dress up anymore. This needs to go. It will make more room for all the other crap that is still heaped everywhere else. I pulled the tub of dress-up clothes out and pushed through the wreckage of the room to find a place for it in the ransacked hallway.
I spotted mounds of dust and dirt on the closet floor that grossed me out, so I proceeded to pull out everything else in her closet. I’ll have to wash that floor.
I went back to grab all the books from my desk to find a place on my bookshelves in the guest room and realized I didn’t have any room to fit another book anywhere. I thought if I could just move the frames around and rearrange some of these shelves, surely I could find more room. While taking out the frames, I spotted all of the church CDs I had saved on a lower shelf and realized I could stand to listen to them again. I pulled them out, started to organize them and put many back in their cases and threw out those that were cracked or broken.
Hence, another pile.
I then realized I had nowhere for the pictures from my desk either, so I really needed an overhaul of the frames to fit in all my new pictures.
Frames came down on the guest room floor, stationed near the CDs. Books went up in their place. Except, I had piles of books building downstairs that really needed a sorting through, so I went downstairs, grabbed those books to then make more piles of “need to read,” “should read,” “have to read,” “already read,” “pass it on” and “return to owner.” I carried the ones that weren’t urgent on my “to read” list upstairs to add to the packed shelves.
Four hours later, my head was spinning in a daze wondering what the hell I had just done.
I took down the recycled pile and the trash pile in only four trips. So I left the jewelry piles, the frame piles, the CD piles, the papers, the toy bins, the dress-up tub, and the book piles and called it a night.
My house was completely torn apart.
God help me.
But let me tell you, that desk?
It’s cleaned out.
*An original version of this post first appeared on Scary Mommy.