Nov 23, 2009
11:33 AM

The Redundancy of Lists

The Redundancy of Lists

Photo: Dustin Steller/istock

I’m a Virgo, so I make lists. Detailed lists for monthly goals, daily lists, lists for someday if I find the time. Dealing with stuff is always on the list, every list—because stuff happens with kids.

I thought we were burdened with inordinate amounts of objects before we were parents—my wife was a compulsive yard sale and thrift store shopper during our early days—but I had no idea how full a home could get with seemingly necessary or desirable things.

It started before the first kid arrived—the crib that was never used, the borrowed changing table that was used to death, the bassinet that became mine to bestow on the next generation. Then there were the clothes, receiving blankets, snot suckers, nail clippers, stuffed toys, safety devices and pacifiers that arrived shortly after.

Then, every holiday and birthday, stuff arrives and you have darned little control over it, like Bubbles, an almost life-sized stuffed elephant that came when our son was maybe one, a second-hand critter given to us by my sister with enthusiasm. And passed on as soon as we could decently remove it from our already-crowded domicile.

Add another child, especially of the opposite gender, and more stuff arrives (in different colors), with additions of dolls, frilly uncomfortable clothing no baby would wear without protest, and more stuffed loveys. Many of them purchased by me…

Long before number three came along, I decided that since space was an issue (cupboards can only hold so much and a constant stream of giving away is hard on any kid), we’d only give gifts smaller than a breadbox, and edit wish lists, before they went out to relative city, so that the items met this criteria. An extravagant holiday haul can fit into a small space with adequate planning and manipulation.

I’m probably the worst offender when it comes to stuff for the kids. And my wife for all other stuff, even with her twelve-step recovery from yard sale and thrift store addiction. While I am a constant sucker for stuffed toys, new games and desired electronics, my wife is easy prey to Costco displays of towels, dish cloths, tools and office supplies. The battery aisle sends her into ecstasy.

The top of my list this fall was to clear out the extra stuff. This is the first year I haven’t had a kid at home full-time since our daughter was in second grade (she’s a high school freshman, so that’s saying something), and tossing without witnesses is essential to a happy household.

Life keeps getting in the way. Two cases of swine flu kept kids housebound, various appointments made a solid block of gleaning impossible, and my hernia surgery will keep me from moving more than ten pounds for the next six weeks—can’t imagine how I’ll manage that, I’ll probably pop my stitches before the month is over.

But equally, I’ve got to shift some baggage before the holiday season hits, because with seven years of excess mounted up, I don’t think we’ll survive another Christmas without an avalanche of objects. It will be my mission: we already recycle, often re-use, now comes the part where we reduce. Before we’re buried in kid stuff.


Blogger Bio: Beren deMotier is a Carol Brady in Levis/tattooed lesbian mama in a mini-van, obsessed with safety, doing the right thing and the amount of dog hair on her wood floors. She is a regular contributor to both Curve and Black Lamb, and has written for Hip Mama, And Baby, Pride Parenting,, and for her blog, “That Lesbian Mom Next Door.” Her multi-award-winning book, The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage, recounts her giddy leap through a legal window, straight onto the barbeque pit of public debate when she and her partner married in Oregon in 2004, their three children along for the raucous ride. For the whole skinny, visit

Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed