When our children grew up and moved out of our house, my husband and I officially became “empty-nesters.” I remember having mixed feelings about it, both proud of the adults my son and daughter had grown into, yet also feeling the loss of the children they had been. But for the first time in years, I had empty closets, dresser drawers, and even empty storage containers on our basement shelves. It was a strange and wonderful thing.
I remember standing in my son’s old bedroom in front of an empty dresser and wondering, “What am I going to put in it?” Usually my problem was finding a place to store our stuff, not finding stuff to fill our storage space. Eventually, I put my collection of antique post cards, our heating pad and extra throw blankets in that dresser, deliberately leaving one drawer empty so houseguests could use it to unpack and settle in properly.
That was approximately ten years ago, and sadly, finding stuff to put in empty storage space in our house is no longer a problem. Somehow or other, we’ve filled every one of those closets, storage bins, and dressers. The house that used to comfortably hold a family of four is now full to bursting, even though there are just two of us living there now. And I have absolutely no idea how that happened.
I’m not a person who shops a lot, or who is comfortable having a lot of stuff. I cull my wardrobe regularly, and make frequent trips to local donation centers with bags full of clothes and household items. With the exception of my photo albums and my books, I’m not, and never have been, a “saver.” If anything, my motto is “less is more.” So how did I end up with a full house?
I can blame some of it on the grandchildren. My grandmother kept a bedroom in her small bungalow reserved for grandchildren, and it always made me feel so welcome. I wanted that for my own grandkids, so they have a dedicated room in our house, complete with toys, books, and a crib. I also acquired a few things when my mom moved to a retirement community, which explains the large drum table wedged into our third bedroom. My husband sometimes complains about it, but I grew up with that table and can’t seem to let it go.
Still, that doesn’t account for the overflowing storage shelves, the packed-to-capacity closets, the boxes underneath the pool table in the basement family room, etc. We do a big clear out every couple of years, congratulating ourselves on successfully downsizing our stuff, but it’s always just a matter of time before those closets and shelves fill right back up. I don’t understand it and I don’t like it, but it still happens.
I guess I just need to accept that this is one of life’s mysteries, like how we can put two matching socks in the washing machine and only one sock comes back out. Or how we can diet for two weeks and lose one pound, but eat one piece of cheesecake and gain three. Maybe some things just weren’t meant for us to know….