“Mom and Dad, when you die, we are just going to get a dumpster.”
Have you said that to your parents? I hear it often, so it must be a popular thing to say. It is said kind of kiddingly, but really not.
There are two sides to this story.
First, there are the parents, who have collected so much stuff over the years that they can’t even park in their garage. Their rooms are still full of things from when they were raising children. The basement has furniture that used to be upstairs but got moved down because it was “too good to get rid of”. They have boxes of mementos that they are saving because “someone might want them”. There are things from their parents, things that just need repair, things that might be valuable, stuff in the attic, and projects that they just haven’t gotten to. Yes, there are also nuts, bolts, screws, screwdrivers, tools, scraps of wood, because “You never know when you might need them.” Let’s add to that, they have souvenirs, photos, and slides of every trip they have ever been on.
You get the idea. Their house is full of memories.
Parents keep asking their kids if they want anything. The kids have said no and teased (or seriously answered) that they are going to get a dumpster. Kids, that is hurtful. Your parents might smile and laugh, but inside they are wounded by your words.
The other side of the story is the kids, who are now in their forties and fifties. They have houses of their own and are already downsizing themselves. They grew up in a different era. They don’t save things. They use things up and get rid of them when they are worn out. They have gone through record albums, then 8-track tapes, then CDs, then Pandora. They move on to the next great thing. Again, you get the idea.
How to solve this?
Parents, acknowledge that your children live in a different world from you. Remember, the memories in your house are your memories. It is OK if they don’t want all of it. They have treasures of their own.
Perhaps it is time for you to start dealing with the burden that you created. Or maybe you have reached a stage in your life that you no longer have the strength to deal with it. That happens, too.
One solution is to literally move on. Figure out where you are going to live the next season of your life, pick the items that are perfect for it, and go. Then, let the kids or a professional deal with the remaining items.
As for you, kids, STOP joking that you are going to get a dumpster. Recognize that you and your parents look at their treasures from a different perspective. You may feel that your ultimate solution will be to get a dumpster but stop saying it.
Stop being mean. Treat your parents’ home with respect.