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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Clean Sweep -- it's not just a tv show

Last weekend started early for me as I flew to my mom's house Thursday night to spend the weekend with her. And what were we going to do over the next 2 1/2 days? Why, clean out, organize and re-arrange her downstairs bedroom! Although really, this is only the tip of the iceburg....

Backstory: My parents had been married for 32 years, when early this year my mom filed for divorce. The reasons are long and complicated and messy to go into, though I will say that adultery and abuse were not part of the equation. Thank God. That being said, the divorce should be final by year's end. My mom is now living in the house where I grew up in Northern California by herself (my dad is living in Arizona) and the 30+ years of stuff that has accumulated in the house is just out of control. My mom finally hit a turning point this summer and has started changing her outlook on life. I think there were a number of years where she hasn't been happy, but buried that unhappiness to not make waves within her marriage or the family in general. Instead of dealing with it, she compensated by shopping. Which, of course, just added to the clutter and craziness in the house leading to more unhappiness.... Well, you see where this is going. But over the past few months I have seen such a change in her and it is definitely for the positive! She is getting her life back in order in so many ways, but it is partly expressed by getting her literal house in order, too.

So, this weekend's task was to tackle the bedroom. Quite frankly, we were both overwhelmed with the sheer volume of "stuff" we had to go through. I have tried to help her organize and clean out the bedroom before, but she fought me on purging a lot of the clutter and instead of weeding things out, we just re-arranged what was already there. But not this time!

Once we finally found a place to start, she was throwing stuff into the Goodwill and "sell" piles with wild abandon. I think we had a disagreement on whether to keep or sell maybe 3 items in the entire room. Over the course of 2 days we made 3 trips to Goodwill, 1 trip to the hazardous waste recycling center (for an old TV and batteries) and filed up at least 2 garbage cans of boxes, papers, old mini-blinds and whatnot. She also has several boxes of items that need to go to the antique dealer next week to see if it can be sold. Amazing!

After the room had been purged of all the unnecessary crap, we found homes for the things that were staying in the room, gave the whole thing a good cleaning, replaced the mini-blinds and window coverings and updated the bedding and lamps. It is not an understatement when I say the room looks like a million bucks!!

My sweet mother was just giddy at how much we accomplished and with the final results. She said it was just the motivation she needed to get her started again tackling other rooms in the house. [Prior to my arrival, she had already been working on the garage, backyard and various rooms in the house for at least several weeks. It's just that there is so much to go through, it can be overwhelming and quite tiring at times].

I am so happy for her and really proud of her for taking charge of her life and making some big changes that are right for her. My mom has always been a "people-pleaser", putting everyone else's wants and needs ahead of her own, and now for once, she is putting herself first. It just puts a huge smile on my face when I think about how far she has come in just a few months.

It was a work weekend and I'm still somewhat tired from all the activity, but it was also a lot of fun and well-worth the effort. :)


  1. I may do this in the next few weeks when I have...uh...some free time. ;)

  2. You're a great daughter and I'm sure your mom appreciates you oodles and oodles!

  3. you are definitely an awesome daughter! i was in a similar situation a few years ago, and let's just say my attitude wasn't quite as pleasant.

    props to her for making hard changes, too.

  4. Ditto what the tater said. You should have taken a before and after picture :)

  5. How awesome are you? Super awesome daughter! I know she appreciates it and I'm glad to hear that she is getting on track and feeling good. :)

  6. wow. a big yay for your mom, and i'm sure she appreciated your help (and enjoyed the bonding time with you).