Mom wasn’t always an extreme hoarder. The illness didn’t settle in until after I moved out of the house to live on my own, but she WAS unorganized and had a lot of clutter. Even though she was employed as a housekeeper, she wasn’t great at keeping our house tidy.
My Mom is incredibly crafty…she is skilled in just about any handicraft you can imagine, and she has all the supplies for each of these hobbies. And she was brilliant at starting a new project, but often didn’t finish them. These half-finished crafts still exist in limbo around the house at various stages of completion.
As a kid, it was normal to have the pile of laundry sitting on the sofa, and if you needed something to wear, chances are you’d find it in that pile. There was extra stuff pushed to one end of the dining table that always seemed to be there at every meal. I was never really required to put my toys away, so I missed out on learning that discipline early.
The only time we really did a major clean was when guests were expected. Then the whole family would rally and whirl about the house shoving stuff from the public rooms, like the living room or bathroom, into other rooms people wouldn’t see. The walk-in closet did not facilitate “walking in.”
No one would ever know this was an issue, and as I kid I didn’t know any better either. I figured that’s what you did! You lived with your comfy chaos until company came.
Surprisingly, we actually seemed to host somewhat often back then. Mom’s sister and brother-in-law would come to play cards and I’d hang out with my cousins. Gramma would come and stay the odd weekend. And I’d have my friend from down the road over all the time to play in my room.
I think the frequency began to trickle as I got into my teens. I didn’t bring friends from high school home. And once I went away for college, it was hard to squeeze myself back in. My old room was repurposed as a ‘craft room’ and I got the spare room. The spare room that served as a mausoleum for the beautiful porcelain dolls my Mom had lovingly created. And all the spare parts that had “potential.”
After I graduated college and returned home to try to find a job, it wasn’t too bad. There was room to relax on a couch, after I moved the laundry. I could shove a pile of magazines aside to put a water glass on the coffee table. I had access to a computer and (38,000 bpm) data/fax modem for internet.
After a few months, I got a job in another city, and moved away. That’s when the small avalanches started; and there was no going back.