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To the Makers of Things: Can you please stop making things? While I do appreciate the abundance of Stuff you have blessed our little family with, our house is already full of Things. Mostly things that have no place and whose purpose expired years ago. When I walk past a table, or even a bedpost, the part of me that is bigger than I remember it being knocks something down.

My children have clothes hangers hanging from their curtain rod. They have named them. One of my children will say to me, “Mom, have you seen Silver?” I will imagine Silver is a plastic horse or a stuffed animal. But it turns out that Silver is one of the clothes hangers they have named. They have an entire herd of them.

Dear Makers of Things, you can have your clothes hangers. And plastic horses and stuffed animals. Also, please, can you be a little faster about collecting the recycling? Too often, my children recover a precious piece of “art” that I, in my incomprehensibly vast ignorance, have mistaken for a scrap of used paper.

Piled on my children’s dressers are books and pictures, mixing in company with an orange juice cap, sticks, soap shavings, the carefully peeled off label from a shampoo bottle, and a small collection of the little plastic “tables” that hold the center of a pizza together when you order delivery.

And the boxes! Oh, my. I do realize that toddlers (also cats) are attracted to boxes and that they largely ignore the Stuff that comes in the boxes. My toddlers graduated to children who not only hoard the Stuff, but ALSO insist on keeping the box. And any wrapping paper or labels that came with it.    

Here’s a challenge for the Makers of Things: Can you please package things in unattractive—or better yet, invisible—containers? Because, as it is, I find myself cutting off tags and hiding them and taking new shoes out of the box before I hand them over.

My neighbors sometimes give my kids their cast-off Stuff. Grandparents send Stuff. Even my husband has been known to bring swag back from conferences and gift it to my kids. (Like, doesn’t he know?)

And then, when I ask my little darlings to get rid of an old T-shirt that doesn’t fit, they sob like I’m trying to take a puppy away from them. My husband recently found one of my 7-year old’s old onesies in the garage. He brought it in to show her how little she used to be. She responded by insisting that it still fit her and that she needed it. And then she proceeded to demonstrate that it fit by stepping into the leg holes and trying to stretch it over the clothes she already had on.

When they act like this, my Mom Guilt rises up and catches in my throat, and I am sure I am The Absolute Worst Parent Ever. After all, how bad is it to want to keep stuff?

This whole inner conflict necessarily leads to Operation Covert Get Rid of Stuff, which also makes me feel like the Worst Parent Ever—but without the added crying and complaining. So there is that.

So, yeah, You Who Make Stuff, please stop. We have exceeded capacity.

As for friends, neighbors, and family members, instead of a gift, perhaps you could arrange a trade: Your gift for an equal size box of junk from my kids’ room.

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Tags: Featured Story, Food & Home, Maternity, Parenting

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