Host: Good morning and welcome to this week's edition of "Horrific Hoarding". Today's guest is a stay-at-home mom of four who has, as usual, requested that we keep her identity a secret. She has selected the name, "Mired" for today's show. Thank you, "Mired", for the opportunity to come to your home.
Mired: Uhhh ... you're welcome. It's good to be here. I mean, it's good for you to be here. Would you like to have a seat? Oops. Well ... let me clear a space here on the sofa for you. I'll just shove this box over here. (grunts) There.
Host: Thank you, "Mired", let's go ahead and get started. What is it exactly that you hoard?
Mired: Well, as you can see from the living room wall here, I have four beautiful kids. And as you can see from the boxes of mementos along the wall there, they each accumulate a lot of stuff.
Host: Wow. That is a lot of boxes. From where I sit here on the sofa, surrounded by three boxes, I can count (pauses while counting) ... twenty-six boxes and twelve paper sacks. Are those all full?
Mired: Yes. I'm afraid so. And those are the boxes that didn't fit in the attic or under my bed. Or in the basement.
Host: Okay. And what exactly is in those boxes?
Mired: (sighs) Oh ... everything my kids have ever done. Ever. All of it. Every time one of the kids does anything, I keep it. I can't bear to throw any of it away.
Host: Can you give us some examples of what you keep?
Mired: (pulls a box from under the wilted ficus tree) Well, this box is kind of a hodge-podge of things. Here is a spelling test from my oldest. I kept it because he spelled "stockpile" correctly. This is a card that my daughter gave me for Mother's Day. She made it herself. I have it rubber-banded together with all the other cards I got that year. This is a t-shirt that my oldest daughter wore to her first day of Kindergarten. It was her favorite shirt and most of the glitter has worn off. This is a "picture" my toddler drew for me. It was one of the first times she ever drew a circle. The paper with her very first circle is here somewhere ... maybe it's in one of those boxes under the dining room table.
Host: That is a rather eclectic collection of items. What else do you keep?
Mired: (selects a grocery sack from the top of the bookcase) This is full of photographs. This bundle is full of professional portraits of the kids. This bundle contains school class pictures. And this bundle is a mixture of birthday pictures. Oh look! Here is one I've been searching for. It's a picture of my oldest when he got his first bike. He was so proud of himself. I also keep their science projects and their journals. The journals aren't too tough to store, but the science projects can be a challenge. See that box over there? That is a diorama that my five year old daughter made. It's the habitat of a rolly-polly. For a small bug, she built a huge home for it.
Host: I imagine that you also keep their art projects as well. Where are those stored?
Mired: I have set aside the hall closet for their art projects. I would show you, but it's pretty full. I recently added some coloring pages that my baby scribbled for me and I was almost buried alive. It was an avalanche of macaroni art, water color pages, laminated place-mats and collages. I was almost hit in the head with a 3D map of Colorado. It weighs about 15 pounds due to the salt dough Rocky Mountains, so that would have left a mark.
Host: Yes, I would imagine so. Do you have any order to the boxes and bags here in the living room?
Mired: Order? Uh ... no. I intended to keep all this organized. I started with manilla envelopes that I would label and date. But then I got overwhelmed by the sheer amount of school work the kids would bring home every night, so I started just boxing it up once a month. Now I put the cardboard box right next to where the kids hang their backpacks. As I go through their folders, I transfer all the completed homework into the box for safe-keeping.
Host: So you keep everything? Even the pages torn out of the math workbooks?
Mired: Of course! I want to keep all their work so that I can show them someday how much they have improved! I'll show you. (searches through a box from under the fish tank) Here is an example of my eldest's progress. See how much nicer his number four looks? It used to look like a lightening bolt. And here you can see how he figured out that 38 plus 14 equals 52 by drawing a picture. This page is a great example of his art and math skills!
Host: I can see that. You mentioned earlier that you also store items under your bed. What sort of mementos are in those boxes?
Mired: Those boxes hold more of our family mementos. I have the kids' baby books and all the sentimental items that come along with having kids: their hospital bracelets, the outfit in which they first came home from the hospital, envelopes with their curly locks from their first hair cuts, ziplock bags with their first fingernail clippings ...
Host: (interrupts) I'm sorry. Did you say you kept their fingernail clippings?
Mired: Yes. Do you want to see them? They are so tiny. Itty-bitty nails from their itty-bitty fingers.
Host: Uhhh ... No, thank you. But, please continue.
Mired: I have also kept their ragged baby blankets. My daughter's lovey is full of holes and is an awful shade of grey, but it's too precious to throw out. I also have several boxes of their birthday cards from each year and Valentine's Day cards and Halloween cards and Christmas cards and Fourth of July cards ...
Host: "Fourth of July cards" ... I didn't realize that people sent out cards for the Fourth of July.
Mired: Well ... not often, but that just makes them all the more special.
Host: "Mired" it would appear that you are attached to these items because of their sentimental value. Would you agree?
Mired: Yes. I can find a story behind every picture, homework paper, art project, favorite toy, lock of hair, birthday card, science assignment, poem, doodle scrap, board book they ate, writing journal and finger nail. Each of those stories captures a snapshot of my kids at a specific point in their precious lives and freezes time for me. By keeping each and every memento, I am able to go back and remember each special moment with my special person. These kids are growing up far too fast for this mommy's heart and I guess by keeping absolutely everything I hope to be able to treasure this brief season of mothering for a little bit longer.
Host: (wiping a tear, sniffling) "Mired" ... that just beautiful. But, you do realize that you can't keep everything. There is not enough room in this house for you to hold onto every little sentimental thing from your kids.
Mired: I know. That's why I've asked my husband to build the addition.
Host: Well folks, that's it for this week on "Horrific Hoarding". Join us next Thursday for our visit with "Squirreling Away in Sacramento". Thanks for joining us! Bye-bye!
Prompt #2 - If you were a hoarder, what would you hoard?
In all serious, I do have a large plastic bin behind the rocking chair in my bedroom full (to the brim) of school and life mementos from the past 9 years. I would love to have a better plan, but this is the best I can do right now. That is until it starts taking over the rest of the house! I do have trouble throwing things out for the same reason that poor "Mired" is drowning in boxes and bags. My babies are growing up too fast and I want a little something from them to hang on to. For a peek into my heart, check out Sara Groves' precious song, "Small Piece of You". Just be sure to grab a tissue first. :)