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Just Thinking Out Loud re: cleaning at my mom's

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I really just want somewhere to talk about this.


Dh and I went over to my parents' house to fix some things and to clean. Mom has Parkinson's disease and Dad is not in great health, either. I am turning over a new leaf, so to speak, committing to go there and clean/fix things at least once every month or two. Typically, I don't go to my parents' house but once every few years because it causes such anxiety for me.


My mom is in the hoarding direction, although it's not as extreme as you might see on one of those TV shows. I've talked about it before here, so sorry if you're remembering that and this sounds like a re-run. My dad is somewhat of a hoarder too, although his "favorite keeps" are of a different sort than my mom's.


Mom buys thrift store and yard sale items, although I think she has been getting more realistic about this in the last few years. She actually works at a church thrift store, which kinda sounds like the punchline of a joke. :tongue_smilie: My mom likes knick-knacks; my dad likes books. (Okay - I understand about the books! :lol:)


I went to clean and I felt led to just offer a non-judgemental and very accepting attitude in cleaning. I don't think my mom would be more willing to let go of unnecessary things if I point out the logical problems or argue about perceived value. So, I did keep to that, at least for what she saw. But internally, I really wish and hope for the day when the illogical view she takes of her things dawns on her. (And maybe it even has to some extent.) But I think it will help me get a grip on it if I just say it somewhere. :tongue_smilie:


While cleaning a shelf stuffed with knick-knacks, caked with no less than two years of dust and cobwebs, I pulled out a dog-head-shaped mug. Very much the sort of thing that goes for 25 cents at a yard sale. My brother once liked Dalmation things and this was a Dalmation, so I assume it harks back to that era. As I cleaned it, she said, "Oh, R will want that. Put it over here and I will save it for him." I obeyed. But here's the thing: my brother lives 2500 miles away now. My mom isn't thinking about the reality of this one dumb object. Will she spend $12 shipping it across the country? Not a chance! Brother was here recently and now it is very unlikely he will be back for a year or more. And even if he did come - I can't imagine he's been waiting these last 8 years for my mom to find a dalmation-head mug. :glare: So I know the mug will simply hold a fresh spot gathering dust for years to come.


Lots of things I cleaned and dusted were similar. There are some pieces of Rookwood pottery that mom points out are "worth a lot of money." I want to say, "Let's Ebay them, mom and with the money, we can buy a new door to replace the door that is falling off the hinges." But, no, instead, the Rookwood holds a crowded spot alongside all the other non-descript junk, collecting respatory-distressing dust and spiderwebs.


We did get some things sent out the door to the dump, and dh fixed some significant home problems. I cleaned the kitchen, the bathroom and part of the entry area that was so stuffed and messy. So, those things are progress. And I am hopeful that if we commit to going and doing this again and again, she may start to see more and more the reality of her stuff. Perhaps sometime next year, she will revisit the dog mug and realize that nothing bad will happen if she sends it to Goodwill. I just didn't want to pressure her about it because I know she has all these emotional attachments to silly things and releasing that is not easy.


Thanks for listening if you've read this far.

Edited by Quill
apostrophe, which I'm still not sure about
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I think it is wonderful that you are committing to go over as often as you're planning to go. And I think you are very wise to just accept things the way they are. As long as you're able to keep things sanitary and not a health-hazard, I would just allow them their idiosyncracies. What a great dd you are!

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I'm very lucky that my parents, despite being in their 70's, are still managing their own place just fine. But the massive accumulation of stuff is just like you describe, and when my mom occasionally has asked me in the past to help her clean out a closet or a garage, it never ends well.


I usually clean up when I'm there, and I just move things around and wipe off the dust. If she asks me to throw something away, or to put something in a different place, I just do it. I gave up my hopes long ago, because people just don't change that much. I would suggest you should curb your hopes if you want to keep up your helping ways, and I very hope you are able to. I had to just let it go completely to preserve our good relationship.

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On a different note but sort of along the same line, I have made a commitment to go to NJ (3 hour drive) at least once a month to help my dd31 and her dh and my two dgd (7 and almost 5) -- Anything I can do -- clean out the fridge, paint a room -- anything. In fact, dh and I are going in a couple of weeks with an Elfa closet system for the girls' bedroom closet - it IS a disaster and I think that it might take some stress off the entire family if it was organized. My dd nearly fell off her chair when I told her we were going to customize the closet -- she was thrilled.


So, I hear you.:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

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Anything I can do -- clean out the fridge, paint a room -- anything. In fact, dh and I are going in a couple of weeks with an Elfa closet system for the girls' bedroom closet - it IS a disaster and I think that it might take some stress off the entire family if it was organized.


That's really sweet. That's pretty much exactly how I was thinking with my mom - kind of just saying, "here I am, what would you like done?" :001_smile:

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I just move things around and wipe off the dust.


Yeah, that's pretty much just how it went. Not really cleaning out the way I would if I had free reign. :tongue_smilie: Just a lot of putting this in a bin with like objects, moving that chair over, putting the canned soup in a fresh, but equally absurd place ;)... and a teeny, weeny bit of, "that can go to the dump". :rolleyes:

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