When your Mother buys you a book with 248 pages solely dedicated to transforming “your home into a permanently tidy, clutter-free space,” and with the precursor, “You’re probably not going to like this Dear,” you know you’re in trouble. Last year and crucially, last year, my Mother gifted Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” to me. And since last year, have I even picked it up? No way. For when my Mother, in an pre-meditated act of pseudo-kindness, bought me a Zen-shmen, Japanese sensation of a book, containing “simple and effective ways to banish clutter forever”, I had no choice but to interpret this as a tactless and underhand move, an insult plain and simple.
The fact was, my Mother’s carefully calculated gift said it all. She did not need to diplomatically break it to me that my house was a hell-hole, that the fridge was crawling, the bins overflowing and the cupboards catastrophic. She did not need to spell it out that, by default, my whole life was one huge disorganised mess and that consequently, I was losing the plot increasingly every day. The title of the book did all the talking. And if truth be told, it had occurred to me too. My house was a mess. So perhaps my cluttered mind was a reflection of my cluttered home? Perhaps my messy mental state was actually an extension of the messy jumbled heap of a home in which I had become engulfed? Perhaps Mother had a point. But still, despite all of this and despite the fact that Mums are usually right, on principle, I was not picking up the sodding book.
And do you blame me? For who is going to take seriously a book which tells you to “treat your socks and tights with respect”, (because apparently socks and tights “take a brutal beating in their daily work” and therefore need their rest), whilst advising on the other hand to “place every item of clothing in the house on the floor” (on the floor….really??), before commencing the big Tidy Up. Who is going to make tidying “a special event….a celebration, a special-send off for those things that will be departing from the house?” And who in their right mind, is going to dress up in their finest dress and blazer to do so? Not me, I can assure you.
That said however, I was willing to at least take heed of the message which was so clearly emblazoned all over the cover of Mother’s loving and well-intentioned gift. For the truth of the matter was, and still is one year later in fact, that my life is crammed full of stuff. Everywhere I turn there is stuff. Everywhere I step there are things, possessions, belongings. Everywhere I look there are goods, effects, clobber. If I’m not tripping over bedraggled-looking dolls, I’m treading on tiny pieces of lego. If I’m not kicking stinky nappy bags out of my way, I’m wading through piles of yesterday’s discarded dirty pants. My world has become swamped with my own and everyone else’s bits and bobs, gadgets, paraphernalia, keepsakes, scribbled memos and tatty plastic crap. Every-sodding-where. And that’s not all. During every waking moment of every day, my sore head is overloaded with even more STUFF. The thoughts, worries, fears and indecisions of a fraught Mother. The plans, ideas, hopes and dreams of an ambitious woman. Is it any wonder then that I often hear myself crying out for some Gd’dam SPACE? Physical, mental, either, both. Please just give me some space! A few minutes of nothingness into which I can wilfully escape, refresh and reinvent myself, before skipping joyously back into the fray. Not an easy task, given that even the loo isn’t even the same sanctum it used to be pre-Terror Tots.
But according to Marie, “life truly begins after you have put your house in order.” And there was me thinking I had to wait another two years until the big 4.0 for life to begin! So what if this book really could change my life, without me even hitting 40? What if this Japanese expert declutterer and professional cleaner’s magic advice on how to energise my wardrobe and spark joy out of only my most prized possessions, really could transform my life and enable me to “feel more confident, become more successful and be motivated to create the life” I want? Well, with promises like that, it was definitely worth a try. Fifty bin bags later and all the priceless pieces of tat that no-one ever missed before, are now well and truly history, I can see the carpet again and clean, crisp lines of seamless, unadulterated shelving abound. Oh, and I can breathe. Thanks Mother, you have given me the gift of space. I didn’t doubt you for a second….honestly.