I Was Never a Packrat Until I Became a ParentDan Pearce
I’ve always prided myself on my mad “keep nothing” skills. I always said that everything I don’t use on a constant basis had better fit into a single closet. After getting married, I was okay with two closets worth of storage (as a couple), but no more than that.
My mom, who I love to the ends of the Earth, is a serious packrat. She has a ginormous storage room under their three car extended garage, and you practically need a machete to get through it. I won’t lie. It’s full of all sorts of awesomeness, and sometimes you wanna burrow through it just to see what treasures you’ll find. I’ve been on more than one sentimental journey into the abyss that is her storage room.
But I always swore that would never be me. Probably because I had to move her ever-growing storage from house to house more than 20 times before leaving home. Such moments were when I learned to swear and hit inanimate objects for craziness relief.
The problem is, to hold onto a “keep nothing” winning streak, you really do have to keep nothing. This would upset my first wife because she’d pick the perfect card or give me something super thoughtful, and after I’d said thank you and loved it and looked at it for a few days, she’d find it in the garbage. After all, one card leads to two cards which leads to a baby elephant in the attic. And we couldn’t have that.
Then I got this thing called a kid. And begrudgingly, I mentally conceded to a third closet worth of storage when all of his future stuff that we got at the baby shower couldn’t fit into our current storage allotment. “We’re gonna have to figure out how to consolidate or stop having kids, cause three closets is the max!” I wanted to say it, but I didn’t want flack. So I thought it instead.
And one extra closet worked pretty well. Until he was big enough to hold a crayon. As it turns out (and I don’t want to scare you “keep nothing” pre-parents), it’s a lot harder to throw away a picture of a rainbow or a monster or a picture of Dad than it is to throw away a sappy Hallmark card. And so I went down to The Home Depot and I got a keepsake bin. Just a big plastic bin that we would keep all of Noah’s stuff like that in. It didn’t fit in any of the closets, but it fit under a bed, and that was okay.
Then I started finding places to put other things that I’d normally throw out or donate to charity after they’d lived their lives. Books. Toys. Clothes. Games. Car seats. After all… you never know when Noah might come around to liking them again. And if it was something he’d out-aged, you just never know but that he might have a little brother or sister in the future who would find use with it all.
Over time, The Home Depot was an enabling friend to me. I couldn’t get myself to throw away or give away anything that had to do with my kid. Things like Halloween costumes and old bed sheets started needing a home, and big plastic bins were so easy, and so perfect. Eventually, it started creeping into other areas of my life. I started holding onto things from my wife, and later after the divorce things from whoever I was dating. Somewhere along the way I had become sentimental. Eventually it got so bad that I couldn’t throw out old shoes that were full of holes. I couldn’t throw out old dishes. I couldn’t throw out much of anything.
Somehow, some way, I became a packrat. Just like my mom.
And I suddenly understand how it happened to her.
Which reminds me… I’ve got some baby elephant droppings to go clean up.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
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