Here is how it started
My parents' clutter is breaking my heart. We have gone over there every Tuesday for a couple of months, to do laundry and grill food. But we stopped by briefly on Sunday, to say "Happy Father's Day," and it was too gnarly in there. It smelled awful. Kaden always says it smells like cat poop, but I don't smell that. I could only smell the dishcloth, filling up the whole kitchen.
But cut out the whining; I want to help. That is a HUGE reason I wanted to move back to Olympia from Bellingham, truth be told. I figured I'd be over there every weekend clutter clearing, and we'd have them dug out and ready to retire to Texas in no time!
Over the years, the things I've read about clutter have become second nature to me. It is OBVIOUS to me that clutter holds you back, prevents you from moving forward in your life, and stands in the way of relationships, especially with yourself. I also understand the flip side: what would you have to face, if you didn't have a house plus 4 sheds full of clutter? If you didn't have the overwhelming 3/4 acre, all hill piece of property to tame? If your 22 year old daughter (my sister) ever left home.
Last weekend, I was over there, helping paint the house. The house has not been painted in about 25 years. The house has not been all the same color for about 5 years. My first task, after the hour-long bike ride over there (SO LUCKY to have bike trails almost the whole way!!), was to clean off the front porch. It is a bit misleading, since the "front porch" is on the opposite side from the street. My parents live on a lake, and therefore the side facing the lake is the "front."
I took everything off the porch. I wish I had a picture of it. There were garden tools hid in boxes behind and under other boxes. There were pans of pretty rocks covered in spiderwebs. There were crates of old wooden shingles. There were buckets of house paint and cans of spray paint. And other stuff. You couldn't get to the grill to cook, or to the seating to relax and enjoy the lake.
We did a full day of painting, and then I dug into the decluttering. I was getting tired and cranky and couldn't decide whether to stay and get the job done, or go home. And I was frustrated, especially with all the stuff my mom wanted to keep, as obviously she hadn't used any of it in at least a year - it was buried!
The next day, I was recounting the story to my husband, and I realized that I have to let it go. I am much more upset about my parents' clutter than they are! Maybe what I want for them isn't what I need! I am leaving that typo, because I meant "isn't what they need", but it's not what I need, either. I don't need them to be decluttered; I need to be decluttered. They don't mind living that way and they don't complain about it and to the best of my knowledge they don't lose things. Everything I have learned about clutter clearing has taught me that it is in their best interest to declutter. But everything I learned about clutter clearing has also taught me that you have to be ready for change, for BIG change. And if they aren't, that's not my business.
From now on, I will only help when my help is requested. I am more than happy to be there and support my mom when she wants to work on it. But I can't go over and force them, I can't whine to them about why they don't need whatever item (I definitely notice my voice going into a whine in those situations). I will focus on my decluttering, when I need to, and let their clutter be until I am asked to help.