Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Confession of A Daughter of A Hoarder

Let me start by saying that I love my mom very much. However, she is *such* a hoarder.

There, I said it. This is not even a family scandal that needs to be kept private. It is only about me sharing my story of a daughter raised by a proud, hoarder mother.

And what I said about my mother is not an exaggeration. If I asked her about it right now, I’d bet she would admit that my statement is completely true.

So how did I recognize this unique trait about her? From her decades old collection of the ugliest earrings and other accessories that she refuses to throw away, to the dozens of bottles of expired beauty products (oils and lotions) that she keeps in her vanity, I’ve recognized the symptoms for as long as I can remember. The item that I *love* to use to prove my point about her hoarding issue is the “vintage," 20+ year old microwave that she has never used in our kitchen. She treats it as a home decoration rather than a kitchen appliance.


Don’t let me get started about her clothes. The contents of my mom’s closet should be artifacts in a museum. She not only has a massive collection of clothing, she has kept some items over 35 years; they are older than any of her children! It would be a miracle if she wore any of them just once a year.

All of her clothes are beginning to spread like the plague, slowly consuming my parents’ bedroom with piles of clothing. Most rooms have only four corners, but my mother’s must have at least eight since that is the number of piles I found last time I visited. I’m sure it will soon grow another corner.

I have expressed my frustrations about her excessive habits, and God only knows how often I have argued with my mother. Every time my efforts are as useless as honking at an 80 year old grandmother driving in the fast lane. Confronting her is futile. Once, I suggested that she burn all her junk but she cried, “What’s the matter with you?” Hello? This is a question for her, not me.

All this time her habits have affected me, and not in a good way. It’s one of the reasons I rarely visited my parents once I got my first job in Jakarta. I talk to her on the phone daily, so it’s not like our mother-daughter relationship isn’t emotionally strong. However, I always find an excuse not to come home on weekends or even holidays, even though they don’t live far from me. If I stay in my parents’ home for more than three days, I become anxious. It’s discomforting to see my mother’s crap crammed everywhere. There is always something around to kick, and I’m not talking about a ball.

To make a long story short, I hope that my mother’s hoarding issue isn’t hereditary. My mom will always be my ultimate role model and I would live to have all her other traits and talents, but It is clear to me now that my mother’s lifestyle of excess has no appeal for me. I don’t feel the same happiness and excitement as she does about a monstrous collection of what appears to be children’s earrings (in my opinion) or heaps of colorful clothes that look like curtains.

Throughout my adult life, I’ve known that I would not follow my mother’s path. However, it was not until three years ago that I made a conscious effort to begin downsizing my belongings, particularly my clothes, so I won’t become a hoarder like my mother. This decision was precipitated by a sudden move to the Netherlands to continue my education. Not only am I grateful for the opportunity to learn and explore new cultures, this decision also required me to rid myself of belongings that I no longer needed, particularly my clothes.

Speaking of that, aren’t we lucky to live in a time when we have massive fashion trends that can easily fuel the urge to purchase more clothing? Life is surely grand for a hoarder in this day and age. Thank God my mother has never heard of Forever 21!


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