In big metropolises like D.C. (cough, cough), it’s a residential hazard. No sooner have you gotten the toddler settled, the baby down for his nap, lunch in the oven, and email open than
BAM! The phone rings, and it’s a nice if leisurely call from your friendly neighborhood donation center. “We’ll be in your neighborhood in the middle of June,” they say, choosing a date several weeks down the line, “and we would be happy to pickup your old but usable items when we pickup the donations of your neighbors.” The spiel continues into why AmVets, The National Children’s Center, or Purple Heart, is such a great cause, but, really, any longtime D.C. resident knows the drill.
They’re coming, and they want your stuff.
“Hmmm,” you say, caught unawares with your closet overstuffed and your donation bag empty, “Well, I don’t have anything quite yet, but by that time… Yes, I’m sure I will have weeded the books/toys/baby clothes by then. Yes, of course, add me to your list.”
“Thank you for supporting AmVets,” they say, and you both hang up, thoroughly satisfied with your benevolence (as if old coffeepots, new books, and those jeans from college could possibly make up for your InsertClassHere Guilt.
And then you both merrily go on your way, perhaps jotting a notation on the calendar, “8:00 AmVets,” perhaps not.
Until the call that you know will come, but strikes fear into your heart anyway. It’s the warning shot across the bow of your untidiness. The reminder call, and it too comes when you least expect it, the baby settling down for bed, the toddler wanting a cookie, family dinner getting cold on the table, and the dog whining for Daddy to let him out, as if you hadn’t let him out 16 times already today.
“Good evening, it’s AmVets, reminding you that we’ll be at your house tomorrow for a pickup of your used items in good condition.”
They’re really coming.
And, giving a sideling glance toward the laundry room, or the playroom, the baby’s closet, or the guest room, you admit defeat.
But instead of responding like a sane person and admitting that you have fallen down on the job and not done your homework, you sign on to one more committment as yet unfilled.
“I’ll have them on the stoop by 8:00 a.m.”
And then, then my friends, the drama begins. Which closet will be the victim this time? Which bookshelf? Is it time just to dump the playroom into the big white bags and call it done?
Every mom handles it differently, but for me, those last exciting hours before AmVets arrives are always the most productive for decluttering. All of a sudden, those big white bags are calling me, and they want to be filled with our discarded and outgrown items, things that I trip over in the middle of the night, and books that no one will ever get the time to read again. I choose an area and go to it, decluttering and organizing like a fiend, toting the lumpy bags out to the end of the driveway one by one as they fill, getting the clutter out of my house. Helping a neighbor fill up her house. But, most importantly, not letting that disembodied voice on the telephone down.
Next time, next time, I vow, I will have the bags ready and cheerfully chirp, “Why, yes, I have a donation ready!” when the phone rings in the middle of the night and the voice on the other end says,