So, the house was tented.
Been there. Done that.
Except for the fact that I haven’t stopped moving for three weeks (pre-tent prep and packing, tent survival at the Residence Inn, and post-tent unpacking), it was no biggie. In fact, on the morning we handed the keys to Armando from Terminix, I spotted a few ants in the kitchen and was like, See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya!
If there was a silver lining at all to the Great Tenting of 2104 (besides that my house is termite-free…for now), it was that I got to Clean Shit Out (CSO). I tackled three bathrooms, five medicine cabinets, the entire kitchen and pantry, and the laundry room. As nutty as it was, it was epic stress relief for a Mama who, on occasion, calms her inner Crazy by organizing the cabinet under the kitchen sink (I did that, too, by the way).
Filling a dozen garbage bags with unnecessary “stuff” in the course of a weekend was like a giant Ommmmmm from deep inside my core. The most satisfying moment of Operation CSO, though, had to be when I emptied the refrigerator the night before the tent went up. During the week prior, we ate what we could, salvaged what still had a manufacturer’s seal, which wasn’t much, and tossed the rest. The morning we relinquished our keys, she was nearly empty. Gloriously empty.
I hadn’t seen her like that since we first bought her. I wiped clean the shelves and drawers. I scrubbed the dried up drips and dribbles that had collected over the years. I even found a knife stuck in an unidentified sticky brown substance underneath the cheese drawer. I had no idea we were missing a knife! I marveled at the bright, empty space inside the refrigerator and freezer, which had also been hiding a vast amount of long-forgotten and expired treasures. The bare space soothed me.
Editor’s note: During Operation CSO, I defrosted and ate my matzo ball soup from Rosh Hashana. It was like saving family pictures from a fire.
When I pack for a trip and put exactly what I need in my toiletry bag and exactly what I need in my jewelry case and exactly what I need in my suitcase (plus a few extra things because a Mama needs choices!), and exactly what I need in my carry-on bag, I almost always think to myself, Why do I have so much other stuff? THIS is all I need. THIS is enough.
When the tent came off and we moved back in, we first unpacked all of the exactly-what-we-needed items we brought to the hotel. Then, we unpacked the shopping bags filled with miscellaneous items we hauled with us, like the last few rolls of paper towels, hand soap, vitamins, Kefir, snacks, juice boxes, and other supplies for school lunches. The cabinets, pantry, and refrigerator began to fill up again. Next, I went to Publix and then I went to Publix and Whole Foods and then I went to Publix again, and the house filled up even more. Finally, we picked up the dozen boxes and plastic bins (and our pet fish) we stored at a friend’s house, and I don’t know where to put any of it! All the more, we seem to be managing just fine without any of it!
Saturday night at dinner (we had a babysitter, a necessary expense after the Great Tenting of 2014), I told Mike I wanted to spend less money on stuff we didn’t need so we could buy window treatments. Wine was consumed, so it seemed like an odd rant, but I what I meant was: (1) We spend too much money on stuff for our kids and ourselves and on food for our monster refrigerator that we lose sight of, which inevitably expires and/or grows mold and is thrown out before we have a chance to eat it, (2) I do want new window treatments. Woven shades would be lovely, and (3) I want new window treatments because investing in our home – the center of our family – matters. Party in the Tub doesn’t (although Riley might disagree).
God help me, I want to start my (financial) diet tomorrow. I do. I want to stop rushing. I want to stop packing and unpacking. I want to unplug. I want to sit down more. I want to marvel at my bright, empty refrigerator (and woven window shades). I want to throw out more and bring in less. I want to run out of hangers. I want to stop going to Publix and Whole Foods and Publix all over again. I so badly want to live with less and I want my kids to want the same, which doesn’t seem humanly possible, and, yes, I’m aware that wanting less is still wanting.
When I was a little girl and I would whine and groan and plead and cry for stuff, my dad would say, “How does it feel to want?” For a long while, I didn’t understand his question because I thought wanting felt fantastic. Perhaps it was because a lot of the time I got what I wanted. (This, by the way, is not a judgment on my parents. They did a darn good job raising my sister and me, and they should pat themselves on the back. And they should move to Florida so I can drop the kids off at their house every Saturday night, but I digress.)
Where was I? Right. “How does it feel to want?” Eventually, I figured it out. I know now that wanting feels empty, or bad, not to be confused with an empty refrigerator, which feels really good.