Spring Cleaning Kicks Up My Shizz

There are two terrible things about this time of year:  (1) The awful PSAs warning us that giving children baby bunnies and chicks for Easter is a way to enlist children in committing the murder of baby bunnies and chicks, and (2) the call for Spring Cleaning.

I’ve already come across several check lists and almost a dozen articles about the healthy ritual of cleaning your shit out as it gets warmer.

Listen, Women’s Magazines, I get it.  If I clean out my junk drawers and my sorry-ass lingerie corner in my “delicates” drawer, I will have more creativity, better sex, and improved relationships with everyone on the planet.  If I don’t do it now, soon it will be summer and I will have missed my window of opportunity to clean during the proper season.

But you know what? Every time I attack an area of my house, I have to deal with the emotional side of my detritus.  Those old legal papers? Wait, if I throw those out, I have to confront my shifty (and shifting) relationship to the legal world.  Maybe I’m just not up for all that when I finally get 10 minutes to myself.

And don’t even get me started on the truly emotional stuff.  Take maternity clothes.  Hey, Martha Stewart, you think it’s easy to box up those panel pants and give them to someone else who might actually grow a baby in her womb?  It’s not.  Giving that pile of stuff away may free up precious ounces of mental and physical space, but also? It means I am admitting to myself and to the Salvation Army that I am no longer accepting applications for boarders in my body.  Please excuse me if I avoid this a little longer even though it violates the Spring Cleaning mandate.

The kids’ toys? Same issue.  When I get rid of those baby board books, to you, Real Simple, it looks like creating flow and space. It will give me room to craft and preserve artisanal pickles for my neighbors.  To me, however, it means that there are no longer babies chewing up books in my house.  My years of mothering babies who never seem to remember what the Brown Bear saw are over.


Maybe I need a personal organizer with also has a psychology degree. Better yet, one with a medical degree so she can dispense medication straight into my bloodstream as I pack up my son’s overalls (size 9 mos) or my daughter’s 46 baby blankets.

Still, I’ve been casting around for something I would be willing to clean/remove/declutter.  I am willing to make a start and to wade into those murky emotional waters and stir up the pot of nostalgia.

So, I’m starting with email.  As you can see, that I’m a bit of an email hoarder:

The email inbox of someone who can't. let. go.

The email inbox of someone who can’t. let. go.

I just deleted it all.  My new inbox:

Zero emails.  Someone hold me.  Better yet-- send me an email.

Zero emails. Someone hold me. Better yet– send me an email.

Now, if you will excuse me I am going to apply a cold compress to my head and try not to think about the hundreds of emails from Zappos, J.Crew, Facebook, and Twitter that I just flushed into oblivion.  I can hear my therapist’s voice in my head asking me how I feel about this. 

Quick, who’s got a great synonym for EMPTY?


52 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning Kicks Up My Shizz

  1. I am equal parts horrified and impressed that you deleted all those messages. I currently have 1,975 posts from bloggers I like but will never read, messages from twitter telling me who has new tweets from me, and promotions from Writer’s Digest urging me to take advantage of 80% off now! I can’t delete them. You are a strong woman.

    And this post was perfect.

      • You can’t. And you don’t want to, believe me! Also, why do y’all have such cool emails just sitting but my 5, 276 (I just looked! 3,972 unread!) are like send me money in Uzbekistan and you too can be rich. Also Target. There’re lots from Target.

        There are two bags of clothes that I washed many moons ago and never put away. They were sitting, until yesterday, in the bedroom on the floor. My husband finally emptied them. Onto the floor to be washed. THEY WERE ALREADY CLEAN. They were just…waiting. Most of them are to be given away but wittle 6 mo shirts…I can’t.

  2. Synonym: FREE from guilt about not reading or answering them, about not having them organized or being organized enough to deal with them as they come in, blah blah blah.

  3. Maybe you’ll inspire me to take on the Spring Cleaning challenge. Oh, how I love the “after” — yet am paralyzed and overwhelmed by the actual process of letting go of what I typically call “good” shit and make space for more life. Thanks for being a great inspiration. Love you. Love your blog. Keep writing.

  4. I am approaching these exact same issues right now! my husband makes fun of my inability to throw away these…. MEMORIES!!! I JUST CAN’T. spring cleaning is nothing but tears and heartache.
    It gave me a tiny bit of anxiety that you deleted all those messages, you are a brave brave woman.

  5. OMG..I know this will make me sound like a non-thinking dolt, but it never dawned on me until reading this post why I do not do well with this kind of thing. It really does force me to confront things about myself and my life–and that can be difficult…so I just put it off. Some things really are “emotional detritus”. Brilliant. (I’m generally a little more self-aware than that, I swear. I never really thought of spring cleaning as a metaphor for getting my mental shit together, too…but it is. Damn!! Well done for a Friday. I need a lie down now. –Lisa

  6. My cop out for my gmail inbox – when i dont feel like deleting e-mails, I archive them. They disappear from your in-box, but don’t disappear forever. I am absolutely abysmal at spring cleaning. I would love to live in a completely decluttered house, but it’s just not in the cards for me. I have enough trouble just getting the laundry done on a semi-regular basis.

  7. Since I live in Buffalo, New York — where spring is not actually a season since we just go straight from blizzards and below freezing temperature straight to summer — I am just pretending that I get a pass from spring cleaning. I am also so glad to see someone fess up to their “e-mail hoarding” tendencies. I am not a technologically organized person. I know that google is trying to make it easy for me, but it’s still hard.

  8. How come no one mentioned your 79 drafts dwindled down to 78? Not only did you delete all your inbox, you eliminated a draft! Kudos! I delete inbox every single day. I hate pages and pages of emails. I have kept some from 2009 but they hold my grandbabies nursery school graduation photos.

    I saved an outfit from each of the kids from their under 1 years and one blanket. Their clothes became stained and not so special after that lol. They are in a box along with a toy they loved as a baby. Better do this now because what is even harder… is the all the paper they bring home from school. And then there’s the end of the year crap they bring home. What to save?! What to toss?! It took me years to whittle that shit down. And still, there is too much, and they are 30. But I look at all their writings and I sigh and I laugh and remember how cute they were. Until I remember what little #$%& they were too as they pummeled on and yelled at each other and talked back and refused to do chores. Yeah. Ok. Perhaps I should go clean out those boxes now.

    The other household stuff, well I have an ongoing donate box I toss stuff in when I realise I have not used or thought about ever using it for a long time. When it’s full, off to Salvos it goes. That stuff just takes up space and I look at it this way, someone else will get better use out of it than me. I am doing a good deed!

    You know what else was difficult to purge? My wardrobe when I finally faced the fact I was too old to wear the short skirts, shorts and cool clothes that used to look good on me. They didn’t match the wrinkles lol. I amazingly had a whole lot more room in my closet after that painful purge!

    Good job on the emails, it’s a start! You’ll be okay!

  9. Just yesterday I got a “Spring Cleaning in 30 Easy Steps” checklist in my email and although I knew I would regret it, I opened it. Item 13 was about how to polish my flatware. Are you friggin’ kidding me? Who makes these checklists? Have they ever met a real person? Thank you for this post – I am not alone!

  10. I usually start with my husband’s stuff followed by the kids’ stuff and then ease into my stuff (let’s face it my stuff is nicer). I’m sure that’s a really healthy way of trying to control others while avoiding my own issues. I binge-clean if there is such a thing…I can go a very long while knee-deep in the hoards, but if I get on a roll…look out. I generally decide to do this the day before we have a party or company coming. And as long as you mentioned it…my aunt gave me a bunny one Easter–it got out of its box; ate a houseplant and was dead the next morning…mind the PSAs.

  11. Where to start… well…
    1. I wish I lived in your neighborhood because I could really use some artisanal pickles.
    2. As a devout “one and done” woman, even I had trouble parting with the baby clothes I had been saving when I was on the fence. It’s tough, for sure.
    3. You deleted ALL of your emails? Ack!! I have just over 700, which is making me jittery. If I had thousands (which clearly is going to happen because the number just keeps going up even though I try to get it down every weekend), I don’t what I’d do. And delete them all? I can’t. The horror!! (Good for you though, really.)
    4. The thing about spring cleaning that freaks me out the most is cleaning the windows. I really hate cleaning windows. And all the other cleaning. I hate that too.

  12. I can’t imagine deleting my entire inbox. I mean, some of those emails have IMPORTANT information! I do need to clean up though. And I need to ream out my closet. It’s more than half business casual and I am not working right now (well, I am but not for money). I’ve been avoiding it for two years. I think I need a personal organizer too.

  13. Yep, you wrote this post just for me. I agreed with every word. But I did get rid of most of the baby clothes (except the few I just couldn’t part with) by donating them to friends or preschool. And the crib? It went to a couple that unexpectedly found out they were going to have a baby but couldn’t afford all the baby stuff. (Take that karma. No “get rid of the crib then find out you’re pregnant” business here!)

    A friend of mine and I passed maternity clothes back and forth, but there was THE Yellow Shirt that we both agreed needed to be burned. For her third pregnancy she didn’t want it back. I promised her I would burn it. I found it behind the dryer the other day. I PROMISE I’ll burn that thing in the fire pit this spring. It was actually pretty cute, but we both wore it so many times that neither one of us can stand to look at it.

    But don’t ask about the big box of undergrad binders out in the shed. I may go back to a career that I now despise, right? And don’t ask about all the baby books even though my youngest is four and no longer reads most of them. I may have to cull the herd and make another donation to preschool. “There’s a Cow in the Cabbage Patch” stays, though.

    I second the permanent donation box. Whenever it gets full I head over to Goodwill. It’s so much easier than having half a dozen bags strewn about the house and forgetting what they’re for.

  14. I totally get the toys and board books! Each time I clean out my son’s clothes, I realize that the day is coming very soon where he won’t want me in his room or near his clothes.

    I start with magazines or the infamous junk drawer. Those things only give me mild insecurities of all the coupons that I let lapse and the clever projects that I never tried 🙂

  15. I just couldn’t do that with my Inbox. If I get more than 30, my eye starts twitching. I have to go through them and get them read. My girlfriend opened her laptop at my house once and she had about 200 in her INBOX. I couldn’t handle it. I had to go in the other room. It gave me a stress headache.

    As for baby chicks. I used to live in San Juan. There they do not have the tradition of coloring Easter eggs. People go to the store and by baby chicks that have already been dyed various colors. Everyone knows the chicks will probably be dead by the end of the day, but they are so cute before their necks get broken.

    • I am now feeling like you. If my inbox has more than 6, I get weird. THough it’s only been 3 days. Still, there is hope. Is it wrong to say that colorful baby chicks are cute? Because I think they are.

      On Sun, Mar 24, 2013 at 11:34 PM, Outlaw Mama

  16. I’m just the opposite . . . I toss things all the time. And then later I end up wishing I had that suede jacket/floral skirt/piece of artwork/recipe for eggplant. You and I need to balance each other out!

    • I have been thinking of you all week. Did you follow through on that gum-only diet you were contemplating? And your regrets are the NUMBER ONE reason I hate throwing things out. What if tweed vests make a comeback?

      n Mon, Mar 25, 2013

  17. Pingback: I Totally Get Why The Container Store Is A Thing | Outlaw Mama

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