By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
If you could see my garage right now, you’d think a clutter bomb exploded in there. We’re getting ready for a super-sized yard sale this weekend, and the garage is our staging and pricing area. Some of our neighbors are joining in, too, so the amount of stuff is staggering.
Even more staggering is how much of that stuff is ours. For years, I’ve prided myself on the ability to clear clutter. But after spending the better part of last weekend sifting through closets, perhaps I’ve just been storing clutter neatly away all these years versus actually clearing it. Our last yard sale was more than 10 years and three kids ago, so we’re WAY overdue.
I’ve made many trips to Goodwill over the years, dropping off bags of kids’ clothes that were outgrown as well as the occasional assortment of toys or knick-knacks. But this is the first time in a decade we’ve done a whole-house purge, meaning every closet, cubbyhole and shelf is being inspected for stuff that falls into the “don’t need it or never use it” category. Admittedly, much of it falls into the “seemed like a good idea at the time” category.
The last time Tom and I had a yard sale was right after our wedding. We were combining households and needed to sell off duplicate things like electric can openers and couches. This time around, the stuff we’ve slapped on card tables reflects what we’ve been doing since the wedding nearly 12 years ago.
There’s a stack of footed pink pajamas that Kate wore when she first began toddling around the house two years ago. There are a few lunchboxes from last school year and jeans that fit the boys before their recent growth spurt.
We found two old dog houses that the dogs were far too spoiled to actually sleep in, opting for the comfort of dog pillows on the back porch instead. And there’s an aquarium complete with air pump, gravel and a fake pirate ship – a sale item that sadly marks our complete failure to keep fish alive despite numerous attempts and even more numerous fish casualties.
There’s also a monkey lamp that used to sit on a shelf above Jack’s bed, until he informed me that he needed a “bigger kid room” free of all those baby jungle animals that were cramping his much cooler 6-year-old style.
The table full of Halloween costumes brings back a lot of memories, and it’s hard to price those things for what they’re actually worth versus how cute the kids looked dressed up like a race car driver, Spiderman and a baby butterfly.
It’s not tough, however, to price the potty-training seat as a real bargain. With three potty-trained kids finally under my belt, I’ll be happy to watch that thing go home with some other mommy doing her time in the potty-training trenches.
We also put our old fondue pot on the yard sale table because it hasn’t seen much action since shortly after our wedding. With work, school, soccer practice, basketball games and gymnastics recitals, who has time for fondue? And three little kids plus a pot with hot liquids would almost certainly end with a trip to the E.R. anyway.
And I’m proud to say I’ve finally let go of all those clothes lurking in the back of my closet – the ones that fit me three kids ago. I’m hoping perhaps they’ll find a home where they might actually see the light of day again. I only kept one “skinny dress” that I dearly love, and maybe – if I start doing daily Pilates, calorie counting and possibly remove a few ribs – it might actually fit again one day. A girl can dream.
It’s a little odd and bittersweet to see so many remnants of our life strewn out on folding tables in the garage, dotted here and there with neon pink 25-cent price stickers. But at the same time it feels good to clean it all out – to make room for new memories and the inevitable deluge of stuff that comes along with them.