This is a photo of me and my mom, also taken at my grandparent's home in February 2007. (And that box-like thing in the foreground is a music stand with a hand-made light. It is not a box of stuff.)
I show you this picture because of the garage. What's the connection?
Well, the few comments that I got on the garage post, besides Uncle Pesky who says that that my mis-organized garage aint got nothing on his barn("yers is all in boxes!"), were either 'yes, my garage is full of my kids' stuff' or 'my stuff is still at my folks' home."
Well, this photo is of a woman who avoided that fate. My mom, 'E', has worked hard most of her life to keep her stuff organized. She had cataloged most of the boxes in the attic. Mine were clearly labelled with 'L' and my brother's were clearly labelled with 'W'.
She decided, at some point, perhaps when she and her counselor were working on the idea of healthy boundaries, that when her kids were old enough to live on their own, they were old enough to be responsible for all of their own stuff. Yes, meaning ALL of their own stuff.
She would come visit me, in my tiny blue 14 x 16 foot room, and bring one or two boxes, clearly labelled 'L', up on her handcart in the elevator of my building. As she found stuff that was mine, she would set it aside and ask me to take it with me when I left after visiting her.
I think this was very wise of her, and perhaps should be adopted by wise parents in many settings. Okay, so she waited until we were out of college, but not much beyond that. (Allison
, you must show your parents this post. George
, take notice. Yes, George & Scott, eventually they will move out.) Of course, it does mean that the stuff has got to be organized; #1 child's stuff in only these boxes, #2 child's stuff in only those boxes, etc. And you will probably need to be persistent and loving in your moving of the material into the proper home.
You may have to set a time limit. Such as, "Darling, you still have five boxes in the attic. I'll set them in the entryway for your Thanksgiving weekend visit. Anything that's still left in my house by Mother's Day will be going into the garage sale."
Of course with deadlines like this, it helps if you said it like this when they were in grade school: "Lori, I'm going to be going into your room at 3 pm on Saturday. If there are any books, toys, or clothing on the floor and not in their proper place, I'm going to throw them in the garbage." And, it helps if, when they were in grade school, you followed through and actually threw the items away. (In our case the items were only confiscated for a week, which was what she said, but she followed through and kept these consequences for us. At one point, she had to threaten to remove all the books from my room-except the Bible- if I didn't clean my room. I cleaned. I cleaned desperately. I loved my books. I still do, including my Bible.)
So, this is part of why I have all of my stuff in my garage, rather than hanging out at Mom's.
Thank you, Mom. I love you, even if you did threaten to take away all my books.
Dr. Parts and I will work on the garage again tomorrow. We got through weekend #1 without damage to our marriage. I have confidence that our continued shared work toward a shared goal will continue to strengthen our marriage.
I also have Percoset. That's for afterwards.
Labels: boundaries, boxes, Mom, organization, storage