The Mom Stop column: What better time than early to start packing?
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
My dining room currently looks like the cardboard fort of my 5-year-old’s dreams, with teetering towers of moving boxes stacked against every wall, precariously stacked taller than I am.
It’s still weeks until our official move date, but the idea of moving a family of five has got me packing early. The sheer amount of stuff we have acquired in the 14 years that we have lived in this house is so overwhelming it’s anxiety inducing. Our attic is a never-ending cave, a no-man’s-land where, beyond the suitcases and Christmas decorations, is the place where the items we say we’ll “save for later” go and haven’t yet seen the light of day in who knows how many years.
When my maternal grandmother moved out of her home in 2012, the house she shared with my late grandfather for 50 years, their attic was like a time capsule, holding everything from childhood artwork and science projects that once belonged to my mom and uncles, to 1970s-era gowns that my grandmother wore, to an old toy chest that hadn’t held toys in decades. My grandmother’s house was meticulously neat - she was beyond the perfect homemaker in terms of her home and her cooking. But her attic was a Pandora’s box.
I’m afraid my attic, after only 14 years, is somewhat of the same. So much so that my husband stopped going up there about 7 years ago. If we need anything from the attic, he’ll do his part handing things to me while I perch on the ladder, but going into the attic itself is a no-go for him.
And so, as I pack up our bathroom and coat closets, I sort through the things we want to take out of our laundry room shelves and take loads of items to donate that we don’t actually want to take with us - the attic is looming forever in my to-tackle list. Our current house is only 1,600 square feet. While booking movers, the lady on the other end of the phone said we should easily fit everything in one truck as long as it was no more than 2,000 square feet of stuff. I told her we may have to call back to reserve two trucks - there’s at least as much stuff in the attic as there is in the house.
The good news is, our new house is more than big enough, but as the child and grandchild of a long line of hoarders, I do not want to take everything with me. And so I am boxing, sorting and trying to find a place to stack my ever growing collection of packed boxes. The light at the end of the tunnel is still too far away - while we’ve emptied out a few closets and drawers, the vast majority of packing has yet to be done.
But I figure slow and steady is the way to do it, while we have time, at least.
The last time I moved, I was 24 and moving from a college apartment into my first home. Now, I’m almost 40 and a married mother of three kids. Moving at this point in my life almost feels like I’m taking a delayed step into adulthood.
I wrote a couple weeks ago about our 11-year-old daughter and how she’s been hesitant about the move, as she doesn’t want to leave her friends or the only house she’s ever known. The first night I started packing, I was hesitant about how she would react as I emptied out the closet just across from her bedroom door. She looked at me, asked where the boxes and tape were, and started packing up things in her rooms.
I paused my own packing to tell her that she didn’t have to pack just yet, that it would still be some weeks before the moving vans arrived. But she shrugged and smiled a little.
“I’d rather pack sooner rather than later,” she said.
Me too, baby girl, me too.
Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at email@example.com.