There is just something about cleaning the house. I don’t really like it, but at the same time I feel my blood pressure start to drop as I clear floors and can actually see beyond the stuff in my house to well, my house. As I clean I start to look around and see all that we actually have. While I feel an intense appreciation for my house after I’m done cleaning, I also feel an overwhelming sense of disgust at just how much stuff we have.

Anyone with kids knows how easy it is to accumulate stuff faster than you can get rid of it.  It starts to feel like it’s taking over your house. As the child of a hoarder, I know firsthand how quickly stuff starts to take over your entire life. I cringe at the thought of all the new stuff that the holidays are going to bring into my house. I almost want to cry when I look at all the toys and things that barely got used since last Christmas. I wonder if all the stuff in our lives clouds our vision.  We are living in a “buy more” society. Commercials would have us believe that we don’t have anything of worth if we don’t have their product. Meanwhile all that stuff we had to have last year lays in boxes and bins everywhere.

Toy Box

Unless it’s a birthday or Christmas I don’t buy my kids toys. I had hoped this approach would make them grateful for those special occasions when they got new things. But things only stay shiny and new for so long. Any parent who has tried in vain to keep crayon from reappearing on walls, stains from forming on carpets, and new furniture from the impending wear and tear of children jumping and climbing on them knows it’s all futile.

I wonder at how many times I’ve absent-mindedly looked at my closet full of clothes and said in frustration “I have nothing to wear” or a fridge full of food and said, “well, there’s nothing to eat.” I guess if I want my kids to find their gratitude, I had better watch what I say in front of them. I hope to teach my kids that it’s ok to want things, but it’s better to be satisfied with what they have. I imagine that our household is not unique in forgetting to be grateful for what we have until the piles start to trip us and demand to be acknowledged. Every time I start to daydream about that new thing I want, I remember that appreciation and gratitude lies in the cleaning out of our houses, our toy bins, and our denial.

Wanting less photo