It's more than a month since the holidays, and I still haven't
unpacked my suitcase from our trip to the East Coast to see family. Instead,
I've been wearing wacky outfits and using my 3-year-old's bubblegum-flavored toothpaste for weeks. My makeup and deodorant also remain sealed up
in the suitcase, which I know is gross.
I'm a post-holiday stinky mess; this is no way to start the new year. But here's the reason why: An 80-pound cardboard box has landed, like a
beached whale, in the middle of our dining room. Along with my suitcase,
upstairs, it's full of stuff—the girls' Christmas presents, to be exact.
If you do the math, the poundage of their presents exceeds
the combined physical weight of both my children by more than 20 pounds. And my
suitcase tipped the scales right at its weight limit of 50 pounds. Together,
the two weigh as much as an average-size woman. So basically bringing all this
new stuff into our house is like having another adult move in. Except, in this
case, it's an adult that does nothing but take up space and trip you in the
middle of the night on your way to the bathroom.
Despite my constant curating, they cannot be contained by IKEA shelving.
Don't get me wrong: I am grateful my family is so generous
with the gift-giving. They are lovely folks. And I have never been anti-stuff—I
am someone with a collection of milk glass, for goodness sake.
But before I had children, I swore—like so many of us—I
would not live among a bunch of crappy toys. I would handpick only the most aesthetically
pleasing educational devices for my little baby Einsteins. I favored Waldorf
wood, blank-faced Montessori babies, natural fibers. If it cost more than a
pair of Pradas, it was right for my baby.
Look around our overstuffed home today, four years later,
and you can see how well those highfalutin ideals played out. The plastic
babies, the obnoxiously loud push-and-play devices, the Legos/Lincoln
Logs/puzzle pieces and the monster-mass of tutus along with the millions of shiny
baubles my girls like to wear have exploded across the house. Despite my
constant curating, they cannot be contained by IKEA shelving. And every time I
turn around there's a new party favor entering the picture, or something one of
my kids has literally found on the street and fallen in love with—items that range
from rocks to single, abandoned mittens to construction cones. (Seriously, I
drew the line at the construction cone. That's city property.)
It's not just my two, tiny human magpies who are conspiring
to bury us alive in stuff: It's holidays, it's birthdays, it's school projects, it's the $1 bin at Target and it's the balloons that the grocery store gives them to keep
in the cart. The stuff never stops.
My partner suggests we stick the 80-pound box of Christmas
presents in the closet, whip it out next year under the tree and see if they
even notice. And I would gladly do it if I had any place left to store it.