There is something very satisfying about throwing things away. It gives me a sense of order, of moving forward. It reminds me that in the fight between me and stuff, the stuff may win the occasional battle but that I can win the war.
I'm good at getting rid. In a house of six people with walls made of brick and not elastic, it is a necessary skill and one that tends to fall soley to me as the rest of my family don't seem to have my talent for it.
It hasn't always come naturally though. As a child and a young woman, I was sentimentally attached to all kinds of things. I had items in boxes and files all over the place, precious treasure that was important in some way. I have a sweet that a boy that I fancied gave me in class when I was 11. I have all my 'O' level exercise books. I have the sugar flowers from the top of my wedding cake.
Then one day I opened a box and found things that no longer held any significance for me. I couldn't remember why I'd saved them. Whatever it was that I was seeking to preserve had been lost, notwithstanding the keepsake and at that point I decided that hanging on to random things was pointless. I had my memories no matter what else I kept.
This realisation coincided with me having my fourth child. With the first baby, I kept everything, squirrelling it away for posterity. Paint daubs, shoes, birthday cards. By the time I got to number four, I realised that something was going to have to change or we would sink under a tsunami of preschool art. I started to be selective. Each child has a box file and things only make it in if they are really good or really special.
However, the rest of the house is a bit hit and miss. I'm great at throwing away clothes because my wardrobe is tiny. I'm less good with shoes and coats because you never know when they might come in. I'm rubbish with books too but fortunately my kindle arrived just as I was going to have to start making some difficult decisions in that department. Current areas in need of attention are the pantry (far more containers than any woman could ever need), the kids' wardrobes (toys that haven't been touched for years but are too good to throw away) and the garage (I really need to master eBay.)
But I can't just throw things away. I have to be in the right mood. I have to be feeling ruthless and practical as there can be no turning back halfway through. Today I was like that and took full advantage. But tomorrow I may be feeling more sentimental, less gung ho. Tomorrow I may think that the past deserves a second chance. Who knows? Life's funny like that, isn't it?