Confessions from a Recovering Pack Rat

My grandparents were pack rats. I blame it on them.

It’s possible my mother could have been a pack rat except that my father is neat as a pin (where did this saying come from?), so she has not been allowed to collect things except in her sewing room.

Maybe the vice skipped a generation. Either way, I’ve got it, and Tyler doesn’t force me to get rid of things as he struggles with the same issue, so we’re a hopeless case of clutter and fuss.


Pens in the Trashcan


Not only am I physically cluttered, but I also internally hold on to a lot. I hoard thoughts, feelings, analyzations, and emotions. Just like any tangible stuff, the loads of junk I internally carry around clutters my head, my heart, and often prevents me from making good decisions. Other times, I take a census of everything and just dwell on all I have collected. If I’m ever sitting quietly obviously not in the same room as you, I am in the attic of my brain with all of the clutter of life. Please snap me out of it.

The image of a pack rat is truly accurate. I pick up pieces from life, scurrying here and there to pile it up, without organization and sometimes without concern for if it is beneficial or detrimental to myself and those I claim to love.

Recently, I’ve been thinking through the idea that less is more and hoping I could let go of some stuff, both mentally and physically. If I could do both, my life would be revolutionized. We would be able to get in the bed at night without moving a pile of clothes first, and I would probably consider each moment more fully, loving those around me and living in the present and not the past.

Our living space is small, and we have enough to junk it up in no time. I try and flash clean 2-3 times a day. I’m sure if we just put things back where we got them, we wouldn’t struggle so much. But with an infant, a 7-month-old, homeschooling, and working from home, we’re good to just get through everything we need to do, let alone put it all back in its proper place. This is no excuse, and I can’t keep our house stressfully messy until the kids are all 18 and moved out of the house.


Some clothes that must go.

My new resolution is that some mess is good, but stressful mess is bad. As a form of “therapeutic healing,” I’m confessing some of my least favorite things(and yet part of me really thinks they’re actually my favorite things) about being messy in hopes that it will help me rid my life of craziness and chaos.

  1. I just threw away more than 40 pens I had collected since childhood – all of which didn’t work
  2. The trunk of my car is full of reusable grocery bags.
  3. I like to harbor past grievances to dust off on a rainy day when I’m discontent and want someone to blame.
  4. I have a pile of papers from grad. school in a copy paper box. I haven’t opened them since graduation.
  5. I hoard hopes for the future as relics of something almost alien, improbable and silly to dream of.
  6. I have stuffed animals left from being a kid I conveniently declare are Ethan & Martin’s. I do it for nostalgia’s sake.
  7. I hold onto happy moments thinking none will compare to them in the future. Then when they do, I think those are the happiest yet.
  8. In a box, I keep all my shortcomings as walls. They tend to be high and thick, and more ivy grows each year.
  9. I just got rid of bags of clothes – ones I had never worn, ones that haven’t fit in years, ones that are too big but so comfortable, ones that aren’t in fashion, ones that have holes and need to be thrown away.
  10. I kept all of Ethan’s baby clothes. I just started, in recent years, giving them to a family with boys a little younger than E.
  11. I keep trinkets from events – weddings, funerals, special occasions. I convince myself I’ll use them one day. I haven’t yet.
  12. I love school supplies and keep an endless stock at the house.
  13. I had to throw away Bath and Body Works lotion I had kept since middle school. Even with all of it gone, I have 7 other types of lotion on my dresser.
  14. I don’t mind my own mess and clutter, but I do mind anyone else’s. Amidst my mess and clutter, I know where everything is situated.
  15. Since quitting grad. school, I clean less often as I don’t have assigned essays which encourage me to put off writing a thesis statement or introduction paragraph until I’ve cleaned every corner of the house.

I think this is a satisfactory start. Ambitious at least. Impossible at most. I’m going with ambitious and incredibly possible.