By Reba Phelps
This past winter season ushered many changes into my home life. As if I haven’t had enough change in the last three years. I gladly welcomed my oldest back into the nest. My youngest then decided she wanted to switch bedrooms with the oldest before she came back home. There has always been sibling rivalry but the youngest was insistent on staking claim to the larger and more attractive bedroom.
Albeit, that they have the exact same square footage and both boast a different shade of gray on the sheetrock walls.
We spent most of the Thanksgiving break cleaning out her bedroom. It became obvious, even to the most casual observer, that I gave birth to a child hoarder. What should have been deemed as a long afternoon task turned into a week-long assignment that caused quite a lot of tension between mom and daughter with countless trips to Goodwill and the garbage can.
I found tiny toys from toddler-hood and stuffed animals that I had thrown away years prior. I can only assume that she made a midnight run to the garbage can to retrieve them. She had clothes from elementary years stuffed so tightly in drawers and they were so wrinkled that they were barely recognizable as usable garments. She had every single birthday card ever given to her since birth. There was a large empty turtle shell and numerous boxes of rocks.
During our cleaning excitement I ran out of garbage bags and space. Twice.
She had art work from all of her elementary years and loose photos floating around in every dresser drawer. She had enough unused school supplies to donate to an entire class. Fortunately and unfortunately there were some miscellaneous kitchen items that I had been missing since her slime making days.
I spent the entire first day questioning how I did not recognize the innocent hoarding that was taking place right under my own roof.
The mom-guilt was setting in as well. Why didn’t I police this more? Why didn’t I look under the bed more often?
However it was completely my fault that I had not purged her clothes in a few seasons. A recent growth spurt and a few non-purged seasons were a complete recipe for an unintentional hoarding disaster.
I tried to channel all of my feelings of disgust, slight anger and guilt into a life lesson for the both of us. So, I just asked her, “Why do you keep every single thing that crosses your path?”
She didn’t answer right away and I was assuming that she was growing tired of my interrogation and insults about the untidy nature in which she had been living. But, when she finally answered it was definitely a game changer. She meekly replied, “I just cherish things that people give me.”
I don’t know if she was being sweet and sincere or if she was just completely ready to shut the job down and get me out of her room. But, her remark did change the trajectory of my scope of questions and comments. It softened my heart and reminded me that she is my spawn and I tend to keep memorabilia as well. The Lord instantly increased my patience and decreased my anxiety.
After all of the arguments, tough calls and work was complete I remembered that I forgot to purge the purses that were hanging on her iron bed. The first two or three were clutter free and the very last one I checked was a hand crocheted drawstring cupcake purse. I knew the purse was unique because her grandparents purchased this at the Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival and it was proudly on display.
The purse felt heavy and fluffy. It was full of something but I could not tell exactly what until I opened the bag. Upon first look it appeared to be possibly hundreds of torn up pieces of paper folded up tightly. My first instinct was to resort back to my previous state of agitation with this whole job but she quickly appeared out of nowhere and questioned why I was meddling with her bag of prayers.
Oh. Bag of prayers. I had no clue.
When she walked out I unfolded a few, as I am not entirely trusting the former child hoarder. It was evident that she had this bag for years based on the spelling and handwriting samples that I pulled. But, she was correct. Every single piece of paper held a nighttime prayer of a sweet girl who talks to God every night before she goes to bed.
Her precious prayers ranged from praying that scary clowns were not real to reminding God that she loves her family. This was the most treasured find of the week and the most encouraged to keep. All of the sibling rivalry, all of the mess, all of the fussing, and yelling was worth every moment just to be able to find her bag of prayers.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Mathew 6:21