Tuesday, October 5, 2010


It all started this morning.

Eliza wanted to play with her kitchen. She planned to bake bread, and she had her mind fixated on a certain particular [missing-in-action] bottle of play ketchup. It had to be found. [Because she was baking bread, you see.]

So I began dumping out bins of toys, a dual purpose forming in my mind. I would find the blasted bit of plastic, and I would organize this ostensibly picked up but really boiling-beneath-the-surface catastrophe of a playroom.  I would purge.

I got out a couple garbage bags and started sorting. Handed Eliza the rogue ketchup bottle. Which she promptly forgot all about as she watched my progress with wide eyes. You're not throwing that away, are you, Mama?

Not yet. 

I discovered that we have roughly 10 dress-up dresses per kid. At least 20 pairs of dress-up shoes.  15 bags/purses/backpacks. 7 baby dolls. Fifty Zillion stuffed animals. And a veritable mountain of other random crap. [Sorry, beloved crap.]

And it's not just the playroom. I die a thousand deaths every time I walk into the laundry room -- there is a path to the washer and a path to the dryer and the rest is stuff. Everywhere. Our storage closets downstairs hardly close over all the stuff. And there's stuff all over every flat [high] surface. Every inch of unused table space. The mantle. The bookshelf wherever books aren't. My desk. Our dresser. Covered in stuff.

Unnecessary. Ridiculous. This has to change.

Over lunch, I opened this blog post, which challenged readers to a pivotal, life-changing divorcing of stuff.

I felt inspired. Especially in the middle of my toy room rampage. But also skeptical.

Could we really downsize so radically? Could I convince the kids that they could survive without the majority of the toys in that tornado downstairs? [They are, like most kids, so imaginative.]  Could we all function with just enough articles of clothing to mix and match and last a single week? I bet I could keep up with that laundry. No joke. Could we pick up each of our belongings one by one, hold them in our hands, and commit them to this life as items of essential worth?

I imagine the space. It could free us.

Don't you think?

I'm not committing to anything today. But I'm going to keep working on that playroom. Once everything is sorted, I plan to enlist the kids to help decide what they love. What they can live without.

Then I will inch from room to room, surface to surface, thing to thing.

Can we be brave enough to ask, Do we need this?