Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers (and friends)


Have you ever seen the show 'Hoarders' on A&E?  I sometimes have nightmares that that is what my house looks like and have seriously examined myself to see if I am headed there.  In some ways, I am.  I have the natural tendency to hoard.  (Although filth gets me moving and cleaning)  On my to-do list before this baby was born was to de-clutter and get rid of stuff.  I had started several 'to donate' bags and as they filled up, I tossed them in the storage room since I was too pregnant to haul them to my favorite charity myself.  Well, then they got mixed up with the bags of baby clothes that people have been giving me and all the other stuff and I was back to square one with a room full of junk.  I can seriously see why some cultures don't bother to clothe their children until age 2.  It's a lot of crap to keep around when they grow so fast!

So there I was, just weeks before my due date with nothing done.  The guest room was full of semi-sorted baby clothes, Cora's room was full of semi-sorted clothes that she had grown out of, but hadn't found a 'pass it on' recipient and lets not even discuss my room and the piles of dirty clothes, clean clothes, my normal clothes that don't fit right now, gifts for the baby, Christmas stuff etc, etc, etc!!  I was feeling a bit frazzled, knowing I couldn't do it all and I couldn't add one more thing to the Geek's 'Honey Do' list when he is working tons of extra hours per week in order to earn enough time off for when the baby is born!

And then in walked 5 women.  I didn't ask them, they just decided that on such and such day at this time, we are coming over.  And I should be prepared!  They cleaned, they aired out, they sorted, they threw away, they vacuumed, they organized, they sneezed from all of the dust, and totally blitzed my upstairs into beautiful.  In 2 hours.  I was amazed and overwhelmed and grateful and so at peace with the state of things.  I was totally ready for the baby to come, should he decide to. 

Well, he didn't decide to, in spite of some signs to the contrary so those women came back.  Not the same exact 5, but with a few of the same ladies, they did the same thing to my downstairs.  All of the horrible hidden rooms (laundry room) that I keep the door closed on because I can't stand to even think about it and its cluttered shelves and piles of whatnot.  Matt kept Cora entertained and out from underfoot while a gaggle of women asked him where things went and in general did what he has been too stressed and tired to help me do when he finally gets to come home in the dark, cold evenings.  I directed traffic and made executive decisions about what to toss and where things went. They cleaned, they organized, they vacuumed, they were charmed by my little 2 year old chatterbox, they helped me part with things, they swept and sorted, and blitzed my DOWNSTAIRS into loveliness.  In 2 hours. I am, again, grateful, amazed, overwhelmed and at peace with my home.  There are things that just can't get better right now for lack of appropriate storage tools (like a craft cabinet), but for the most part, my house is done.  I'm ready for this baby.  It is a huge weight off of me!

Now I could go into my crazy space and wonder what these women thought of me and my borderline hoarding nonsense, but instead, today I can just be grateful for the gift of starting this round of motherhood fresh with things straight and organized and for the sweet kindness of close friends and not so close friends that were just willing to come help us.

One of the women mentioned that we should do this for each other monthly and how little work it really takes if all of us get together and help.  I agree and as soon as I'm recovered enough, I can't wait to do my share!

1 comment:

mamdajo said...

I, too, have often been the recipient of this kind of generosity. I'm becoming more convinced all the time that isolation is a huge problem in our culture. Especially when it comes to raising our children and managing our homes, I can see how extended family and neighbors sharing each others' daily lives is a much better way. I think of the groups of women washing at a river, cooking over a communal fire pit or weaving sitting in a circle and wonder if they enjoy their days much more than we. At least with some of the churches I've been to, and within my family, we've been able to replicate some of the community that you describe. I've been astonished at how powerful a supportive community can be. God bless those ladies!

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