Filling the Space We Have

Right now, my kids are trying to find the one library book that we couldn’t locate and which has generated at least $2 in late fees so far. I cracked the door to my daughter’s room only to find a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle scenario where I couldn’t even get in because the contents of her bookshelf were strewn across the floor.

(It’s Nancy Drew, Captive Witness, so if she left it at your house, call me!)

How did I go from wanting to give my kids everything to giving them so much that they can’t find a single book?

It’s a societal problem and one which I’m sure you’re nodding your head about right now. In every room of my house, there’s stuff. Stuffed bookshelves, stuffed drawers, stuffed closet shelves and stuffed hanging rods.

Stuffed nightstand surfaces, stuffed dressers, stuffed corners, stuffed nooks and crannies.

Just so much stuff, everywhere.

Even on my home office desk, there are pages I tore out of magazines with the intention of using them in my work and they are still folded and piled beside the keyboard. When, exactly, am I going to reopen them and decide where they go and what purpose they are destined for? (Right after this blog, I promise.)

It is a liability to have things. When I went to college, I inhabited a 12×12-foot dorm room, shared with another college student. We had just so much space for our clothing and books and boom boxes and makeup. There just wasn’t that much space – so we couldn’t have that much stuff.

When I left the dorm for a shared apartment, I marveled at the expanded space. By the end of sophomore year, I had filled that, too, and had to whittle it down to move home, deciding what to keep, what to toss in a furtive attempt to simplify.

This is the course of our lives. The bigger the space we inhabit, the more we fill it. My first house was 1,400 square feet. I had my first child there and two of us worked at home. We then moved here, 2,400 square feet, and it seemed so spacious and full of possibility.

Now it’s full of stuff.

Eliana wants to just pay the fines and admit that the book is lost. That’s not the kind of parent I am. Responsibility is more important of a lesson than you lose your allowance because you lost the book. 

But did she learn this from me? Chances are high that yes, indeed, that is true. The chances are that, by growing up amid packed rooms and disorganized boxes in the basement and toys in many places, so many toys that they can’t even choose which ones to play with so they choose none by default, she is learning directly from me to lose this book.

I guess I need to clean up my act if I expect my children to clean up theirs.

Other people are always a mirror. Always.

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