I’m 40 years old and I have two girls, ages 6 and 8. My mother lives 15 minutes away and visits frequently to say hello and play with the girls. I’m not sure what I would do without this woman—she takes my kids for overnights, she babysits, and she actually sits down on the floor and honest-to-god plays with them. She might be better suited to be their mother than I am.
When mom comes to visit, she never comes empty-handed; my house has become the dumping ground for her discarded junk. There are two types of things she likes to bring: things she really thinks I’ll like but I never will, and things she doesn’t want anymore but can’t throw away. Odd decor and random coffee tables pile up, but I don’t want any of it, so I try to gently decline her offerings explaining, it’s “not quite my style,” or “I don’t really need that,” or “No thanks, I’ll just throw that away.” Her face falls, and she says with a sigh, “Okaaay, I guess I’ll just take it to Goodwill.” It makes her sad.
I’ve begun to realize that not only is she a low-spectrum hoarder, but she holds very tightly to the material things in her life—the sentimental value and memories are like crack to her. She can’t throw them away, so she brings them to me under the guise of giving me something I’ll need or like, knowing full well that I won’t need or like them and that I’ll throw them away. I’ll do the thing that she just can’t do. I’ll be the bad guy.
I know all about the desire to hold onto things that remind me of precious moments, but fuck. Grow some balls and throw that scraggly ass, 30-year-old Raggedy Ann doll into the fucking dumpster.
Keep an eye out for warning signs that your mother is about to dump a load of crap at your house. If she brings you any of the items listed below, beware and form a strategy stat.
1. Baby Clothes
Not cute baby clothes, but old-ass, scratchy polyester jumpsuits, dresses knit with love from bulky wool yarn, and if you’re really lucky, you might end up with a stained and moth-eaten Christening dress.
2. Ugly Furnishings
Make way for statues of roosters, 900-pound couches with blue upholstery and pull-out beds, the side table you had when you were in eighth grade, and tattered wicker baskets. Gross.
3. Old Schoolwork
This one can be fun, but once you look at it, much like a Christmas card, you just throw that shit away. I’ve seen report cards from third grade, notes from visits to the doctor when I was a baby, and sweet pictures with people made from crayon and titled with misspelled words. It’s very sweet, but if we keep them much longer, they will turn to dust. Let that shit go.
4. Tacky Holiday Decor
This one is especially difficult for my mother. Christmas is a big to-do for her, and she’s a real whore for nutcrackers and ornaments. She buys so much that she has to cycle out the old stuff to make room, leaving me with the rejects—lots of hand-sewn junk with the stuffing falling out and other miscellaneous items from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.
5. Ancient Bedding She Doesn’t Want Anymore
Comforters only suitable for those over 60, stained quilts from my childhood, queen-sized sheets for the queen bed we don’t have… I just don’t understand.
6. Her Unwanted Clothing When She Cleans Out Her Closet
She’s 5’3″, I’m 5’10”. What. The. Fuck. I can fit one of my arms into the leg of her pants, and that’s about it.
7. Random Scraps of Fabric That Hold Meaning
Most adult children of hoarders may not be lucky enough to acquire an item from this fine category, but I have. Leftover fabric from the curtains she made for my bedroom when I was 8. Jesus, whyyyyyy?
8. Silk Plants
These hold some value because they do a good job of collecting dust that would otherwise fall on the table.
9. Old Stuffed Animals
I really loved Pookie the Bear, whom my 5-year-old self barfed on at least three times, but now…he needs to go to Jesus.
As much as we all dread becoming our mothers, at times, it’s totally inevitable. I’ve currently got two bins full of my kids’ art and schoolwork, plastic bags full of baby teeth, hair from their first haircuts, a box of baby clothes, and you’re damn right I’ll be packing their bunny and pig lovies safe in a box. The future is uncertain, but I’m pretty fucking sure that in 20 years, I’ll be delivering boxes of my precious memories to their houses, watching with painful nostalgia as they toss them away. Kids are such dicks.