Every once in a while, my husband gets it in his mind that we can’t possibly go one day longer without getting rid of some stuff. A lot of stuff. All the stuff. We go to Costco and come home with bins and bins and shelving to hold the bins and off we go. I mentally prepare, grab trash bags for what we’ll toss, the bins for what we’ll keep, and have dollar signs in my eyes for the stuff I’m going to sell.
I start in the kids rooms and secretly clear out some old toys, because Lord knows they won’t miss them. Then I retire the clothes that they’ve grown out of. Planning to have more kids, I get to keep all their clothes without much argument. Chad is great about getting rid of clothes. He sometimes goes TOO far in my mind, deciding that he only needs five t-shirts, one sweater, two casual polo shirts and one suit. Then I remind him about all the other times he might want to be dressed and we find a happy medium.
Then there’s me. And my bureau. And my walk in closet. And my bins of extras. In truth, I wear about one tenth of what’s easily accessible. And, walking Mom cliché that I am, it’s lots of leggings and casual shirts. My closet features lots of things with names you may recognize like Irma and Randy….but the rest hangs unworn, though not unloved. What transpires next is always like an episode of hoarders.
Chad (holding up a shirt): When was the last time you wore this?
Me: Work Christmas party, 2008.
Chad: Then why is it still here?
Me: Well I couldn’t wear it last year because I was still trying to lose baby weight, but maybe this year I will.
He gives me the worlds most skeptical look and I snatch it out of his hands and hang it back up. I know I’m not going to wear the shirt next Christmas. But I Just. Can’t. Let it go. We go through this exercise with a few more pieces before he gives up.
Eventually, the breakdown comes and he finds me crying on the floor of my closet, wondering what the hell just happened. Why did the idea of boxing up these shirts from Christmas parties past, these suit jackets that I never loved wearing in the first place, these sequined tops from clubs I hated going to fill me with such a panic?
The answer was so idiotically obvious, yet it made it no easier to accept. I wasn’t getting rid of the clothes, I was officially throwing in the towel on that life.
Intellectually, I know we don’t go to as many parties anymore, and the ones we do go to generally have some sort of an animal or cartoon based theme. I don’t think I miss it, but maybe it’s a sign that I need to make it a point to try to have more grown up nights out with my husband. I know I don’t go to an office everyday, and I rarely have to pull off a “professional” look.
We talked about my reaction as perhaps being a sign that I don’t really want to be a stay at home Mom. I know in my heart I do, so it’s not the actual going to work, but I think it’s the respect that comes at work that doesn’t exist in my current life. Not to say that my husband doesn’t respect me and what I do, he does, but to get that from other people, to be recognized for achievements is definitely lacking.
And sequins, oh the sequins. Look, perhaps most of all I do NOT miss being in a club. I don’t miss someone pushing on me to dance or yelling at me over loud music and cheap drinks. But maybe I miss the getting dressed up and feeling attractive. Sexiness is in short supply around here, but nothing hanging in my closet was going to change that. Especially not if I didn’t ever put it on.
The change had to start with me.
Because it wasn’t about the clothes. So I started boxing. I boxed up the suits. I put away the cocktail dresses. I packaged the shirts made for strapless bras and two sided tape. I couldn’t quite get rid of it all, but I boxed it away and to keep in the garage. Just in case.
And as I looked at that box that held my past, I grieved a little. But I also was able to finally let go. And to see that my life now didn’t have to lack respect and sexiness and confidence. It was all within my reach, I just had to be assertive enough to make it happen. Even in leggings.