I recently wrote a piece whinging on about how having our daughter had completely messed up our interior design aspirations in the home we'd painstakingly renovated.
I know right? Such hardship.
I'm not entirely sure what my beef was. I can only put the ramblings about our living room being strewn with gaudy toys and resembling a kind of 'psychedelic migraine', down to the fact that I was exhibiting the effects of a tortuous regime of sleep deprivation. It's a common tactic toddlers use to wear you down so you no longer have the will to stop them watching back-to-back Peppa Pig.
I decided that I should just put on my big girl pants and crack on with the mammoth task of de-cluttering our home, in order to accommodate the two adults that appear to reside here too. As I started to attack the problem, I noticed a pattern emerging which reminded me of a chapter in Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. She started year long project, devoting each month to an area of her life that needed improvement, in the pursuit of a happier life. In one chapter where she de-clutters, she labels the subsequent fallout into specific categories. My mum junk fits nicely into them too.
The Nostalgic Clutter
Yes it's obvious we would want to remember every little last bit of their babyhood but where does it stop? How much is too much? When I keep her first pair of shoes do I keep the first little booties she wore or the first shoes she walked in? I'll keep both. What about the ones that she wore as a flower girl to our wedding? Those too. Oh and her first trainers that she loved? Yes. Ten pairs of shoes that no longer fit her later, it's clear I'm not nostalgic about memories. I'm hoarding them.
The Conservation Clutter
Things I've kept because they are supposed to be useful but are in fact completely useless to me now. Breast pads. They're great. Despite stopping breastfeeding nearly 18 months ago I still have three boxes. I either need to have another baby or start using them as coasters.
The Aspirational Clutter
This is a biggie. The mum I want to be, but I'm not. Take a look at my bookshelf. Apparently when I'm not doing yoga with my baby, I'm busy preparing us healthy raw meals and all the while, we're only five weeks away from being sugar free. When counting page turns I'm yet to reach double digits in any of these.
The Outgrown Clutter
When you line up her toys it's like a visual aid for the evolution of man. The play mat, the sit up thing, the walker, the trike. It feels like she only uses them for five minutes before they get relegated to the toy graveyard that is the spare room.
The Bargain Clutter
I have piles of babygros and I'm able to see how much I saved when I bought them because it shows me on the tag. Never mind the fact that it's still got the bloody tags on which means I've not actually used it.
The Crutch Clutter
The maternity leggings and the dressing gown I wore in hospital when I had her. It's a cheap and nasty fleece thing which is basically an adult version of a snuggly blanket. It has to go. Not the maternity leggings though. They stay for when I'm not eating raw and gorging on takeaways.
The Buyers Remorse Clutter
'Are you absolutely sure we need this?' the husband said at the time. 'Yes?!' I would say adamantly. 'You have no idea how much easier my life will be with said gadget/book/slow cooker whilst looking after the baby...'. Then it sits in a cupboard, untouched and I can't part with it because I have to wait for the opportunity to use it and prove how much it was a good idea to buy in the first place.
It felt so good to pile all that crap up. But then I realised what an utter idiot I was being.
I suddenly felt an awful pang of guilt, not in a Do They Know It's Christmas way, but in a part of my stomach that made me feel like a ridiculous, hollow, tiny human being. For the mothers in the world who experience motherhood without the bare necessities let alone the luxury of clutter. For those mothers who have felt the same joy, love, hopes and fears for their child and yet are not able to give them the things they dearly wish they could.
I don't mean to be all self-righteous and soap-box about it. It just made me so sad and feel a bit ashamed. So all my piles of 'mother clutter' are now going to good causes, some local, some that support causes further afield. To help those trying to be mums in conditions I cannot begin to imagine.