I can’t throw an empty can of tomato paste away without my children knowing about it. I can mix my colors and whites, clean the bathroom naked, and drive to swimming lessons in reverse and my kids won’t say a thing. But if I toss a Spiderman-themed candy wrapper in the garbage, I’m going to hear about it.
Just last week Leah removed a flower arrangement from the trash. Just plucked it from the top of the can and placed it in front of our house like a sad little monument of my anti-domestic prowess. Unfortunately, the arrangement was from my birthday, which was nearly two months ago.
So when I toss something that I’m afraid might get discovered, I hide it under the empty soda can full of bacon grease, behind the junk mail, or, if I’m smart, in a Walmart plastic bag, tied in a double knot at the top.
But I have to admit, I’m usually not that smart. And I’ve managed to throw some cherished items away in that heartless, mean-mommy manner of mine. Things like completed homework assignments, an empty Pepsi can with Indiana Jones on it, hair ties covered in dust found under the living room couch, little plastic weapons, a half-eaten bag of melted Skittles, the DVD case for Leah & Stitch that’s been missing its DVD for three years, broken Happy Meal toys, a rainbow-colored shoelace, and one Barbie leg.
You wouldn’t believe the drama that ensues once I’ve been discovered. Wailing and hiccupping they ask, “Why, Mommy? Why would you throw my Barbie leg away?” There’s no reasoning with that. I’m evil and that’s all there is to it.
But as I write this I have a nagging feeling that dumpster-diving is a dominant gene that just may have come from me. The only difference is I have yet to throw my stuff away. Because as I look around I notice that in the pass-through between my kitchen and dining room I have three, count them—three bowls full of change, keys, business cards, paper clips, a handful of marbles, screws, nails, and an assortment of washers. At what point did one bowl stop being enough to hold all that stuff? And how did I justify allowing the overflow to fill two more?
On my dining room table is a laundry basket filled halfway with unmatched socks. It’s not a new basket, but one that I’ve carried to and from the laundry room for about 6 months now. I don’t know where the mates have gone, but they’re obviously not coming back.
As I mentally travel through my house I’m quickly realizing that I have enough garbage displayed inside my home to fill two garbage cans. And believe me, these things are just as valuable as Barbie legs.
So this weekend I will purge my home of all trash, trying to encourage my children to do the same.
That, or we’ll have a yard sale.