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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hoarders

Lets talk about the finest piece of broadcasting on television, the best and most extraordinary programming in our time and should not be missed...


Hoarders.

Have you seen it?

If you haven't, don't miss it.  Reality TV at its finest!  It's the most powerful television of its kind.

For example, let's say I get up early one day, dark:30 o'clock in the morning, and stub my toe on the Papa's size 13 boot, thus hurling my body into an entire village of Little People.  After I recover, I make my way into the kitchen and see that Livy didn't get to her chore last nigh.  The sink is full of more dishes than I thought existed.  Actually, there's clutter on every surface... everywhere I look!

Days like this have a way of snowballing... right into the baseball-stadium-sized pile of laundry, piles of papers and mail that are about to fall over, and closest and drawers that overflow with toys and lost socks, stuffed animals, empty shoe boxes, and all those little tags that toddlers pick up on the floor of department stores.  Worst case scenario, I stumble upon a hidden lunch box in the back of a closet, complete with grapes that have oozed into the pretzels, and a turkey mayo sandwich that's well over 2 weeks old.  Mama despair.

In times like these I resort the the best therapy I know of for such overwhelming clutter.  I fill the sink with warm sudsy water and turn on the aforementioned broadcasting... Hoarders.

So moments before I thought my home was dirty.  Just moments before I turned on Hoarders I thought the clutter in our home was getting away from me.  Moments before I thought my floors were surely the most filthy in the world.  Then Hoarders tells me that not only is my house not the worst... it's not even close.  Heck, my home looks clean and sparkley in comparison!

And then I usually plea with the broadcasting gods... Let there be cats!!!!  I know it's wrong, but makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

I actually have a couple members of my family with hoarding tendencies.  OK I'll admit that Papa says they actually are bonafide hoarders, but when you love someone it's just easier to call them eccentric.  So I don't mean to demean the seriousness of this actual mental disorder.  Hoarding is a serious mental illness, I know, but I didn't have a lot of personal experience with it...  and then we adopted.

So let's get serious for a minute, and talk about hoarding and how it can relate to adoption

Hoarding and post-institutionalized kiddos can go hand and hand.  Sometimes these kiddos can become hoarders.  Not necessarily like the kind with cats and all.  But post-institutionalized child that have gone without food, never knowing when or if food will come, might hide food (even in their mouths) even though an abundance of it is always at their disposal now when they are united with their forever family.  Or they can hoard their own goodies.  Or take things that don't belong to them, some with no value, just to gain a little control in their world.
For our child that went without, our Tess, hoarding takes the form of accumulating things.  Mostly meaningless things.  2 1/2 years later and somewhere deep in the back of that sweet little noggin of hers, I guess she figures she needs to gather all the stuff" and keep it, assuring she'll have it again when she wants it.
Tess almost always has something in her hands, something to carry around.  I think it makes her feel safe and loved to be carting her stuff around with her.  She is usually on "look-out" mode for her little treasures, collecting them all day long.  She has countless bags and purses to put them in.  But she mostly prefers a gallon zip-lock bag, I think to be able to see her little treasures and confirm they are still there.
Scraps of ribbon.  A barrette.  Matchbox cars.  Sunglasses.  A passport.  A plastic spoon.  Often Boo's glasses.  A dollie shoe.  Business cards.  A tea bag.  A button.  Necklaces.  Erasers.  A whisk.  A roll of duct tape.
Today's bootie includes a mini-skateboard, carabiner, die, Ernie, Papa's pass to the recent Phx Open, (which she's wearing in many pictures) a small stuffed monkey, a Xmas ornament, a glove from a Mickey Mouse costume, a Matchbox car, a pair of fingernail clippers, a piece of ribbon, and a Zip-lock bag to securily store it all in.  She takes them to bed and hides them under her pillow.  She stoles them away in her backpack and occasionally takes them to school.
I think collecting these items also gives Tess a feeling of control.  I've mentioned many times, that Tess has control issues, even from the very beginning, not wanting to be looked at or touched.  Having and sometimes hiding her treasures, helps her have a feeling of power, something the world won't be able to take away.  Especially when she hides things ... like Boo's passport, that was missing for almost 2 weeks.  I finally stumbled across it at the bottom of a basket of her socks.  {Insert sigh of relief here.}
Within the last 6 months, she now allows us to hold her items, or will put them down momentarily, while she brushes her teeth, climbs up steps... only because we always give it back!  I think this is a sign of her continuing growth and attachment to our family.  Her heart continues to let us in and connect at the deepest levels with us.  She trusts us, momentarily, to give back her goodies.  To let her be who she is at that moment.
For now, unless it's something dangerous, we let her keep and carry her treasures and even accommodate and encourage her with purses and baggies.   We assure her that these are her things, and we won't take them away.  She can store them wherever she likes.  Simply, it helps her feel safe and loved and treasured.  And in the end, that's all we all want!

Except that passport... I secretly took that when she wasn't looking.

9 comments:

  1. Great post! I couldn't help but wonder what has more in it at the moment...Tess's ziploc bag or your brassiere! How I loved that post months ago! Still makes me smile..

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  2. OH MY Michelle! I didn't even see the similarities between my whole bra issue (bolder holders that is!) and my sweet Tess! You are SO right! Maybe it's genetic! Surely it is! That explains everything.
    Nancy

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  3. So glad I stumbled upon this post today. It could have been written by myself about my DD. She is absolutely obsessed with books right now, and MUST have one in her hands at all times. It's a struggle to get her to put it down just to put her shirt on in the morning. It's the first thing she grabs when she gets out of bed. This explains so much...it may just be a control thing or an insecurity. Maybe I'll back off a bit now and let her work it out in her time. Thanks for the great post!

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  4. OHHH girl, I have one food hoarder and two stuff hoarders over here. All those little pieces that belong to other toys, hidden and tucked away in special bags full of treasures. So fun trying to keep the clutter at bay. Our newest addition (5yrs old) will carry 17 toys around at any given moment and hide a bunch in his bed. I feel for him, but it also drives me a little nutty. Thanks for the reminder.

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  5. I love you. Thanks for being one great mama and a wife that is truly a gift from God.

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  6. You had me laughing at the beginning--I cannot watch Hoarders; it makes me ill--and crying by the end. Tess is truly beautiful and you are a great mama and photographer.

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  7. Have you read "Five Languages of Love"? It could give some insight on her love language.
    Jan

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  8. I accidentally found your blog today and could not stop reading your adoption stories.This particular blog is the one closest to my heart. I was adopted and i am a hoarder.I never really connect it to my hoarding, but now i kinda do. I guess i have abandonement issues so if i get rid of "things" i feel i am abandoning them.

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    Replies
    1. I don't necessarily think this type of "hoarding" is all bad. I think it's a way for some to feel safe and that's ok by me!
      Nice to meet you, Lulu!
      nancy

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