Tuesday, August 26, 2014

When a Blessing Isn't

     It's a negative title, I know. You thought about a blessing that wasn't, though, didn't you? Someone set out to do something fantastic for you, but it sort of wasn't fantastic in the end. It ended up being more work for you to right whatever it was. It happens. Some people steal the blessing by saying things that are supposed to be helpful, you know, for when that person wants to 'bless' someone else. But, you just come off sounding like a lame jerk. I said you, like "you all", as if I'm actually assuming you have done that, when really, I mean me. I've done that. Please tell me you've done that. Just so I can know that I haven't been a jerk in specifically that fashion all by myself. That isn't the kind of blessing that isn't that I wanted to share about, though.
     I'm talking about the kind of Blessing That Isn't only because we didn't say "No, thank-you." It's okay to say no when someone wants to do something for you. Trust me. I didn't used to ask people for help at all. I couldn't appear weak. I was a divorced single mom. Then I was a newly wed with a new baby on the way. Then I was the work full time, have four children and a husband whose full time work was even more hours than my own. Then, I was the stay at home mom with masses of children, a single income, a house that was beginning to fall apart and bust at the seams, and a hubby who worked even more hours than before, if that is even humanly possible. All that to say, I needed help. Some people gave me just the kind of help I needed.  Folks came to my house and did loads of yard work, and not only cleaned my house, but painted walls, cleaned blinds, and put great sofas from Craig's List in my living room because my folks were coming out of state to visit us at the birth of our little number 5. Another group found that I was in need of storing items that I needed to be able to get to throughout the year, so they built a shed in the back yard for me. That outbuilding may be more solid than the house! Those are just two examples of Blessings that were fantastic! One of the blessings that wasn't? When I was expecting little number 2, people gave us baby clothes by the truckload. No, this isn't an exaggeration. At first, I was able to wash and fold and sort clothes into sizes and store them in the closet. Then in boxes around the nursery. Then in the crib. The baby wasn't here yet, and the crib was full, and a mountain was forming in the middle. Soon, the mountain of clothes in that crib was at least as high as my head. And my baby was due to arrive in two weeks time. And I sat on the floor in the nursery and cried.
     What was I going to do with all of these clothes? I had far more than I would ever be able to use. These clothes were given to me by people that were proud that their lovely baby things were going to see good use again. They loved junior in that outfit! These pajamas were gifts from dear relatives! These clothes were the bain of my existence. I already had more than enough clothing stored from infant to size 5. This crib full of clothes was this * * close to being my undoing. WHERE was I going to put my child?!?!?!? Of course, I know there were plenty of places to put my child, but at approximately 45 months gestation during one of the hottest weeks in July I had experience yet in the PNW, it was a devastating problem. I had no room left for storage, we don't have garbage service contracts out where we live, we haul our own. Was i going to have to pay money to have all of these clothes removed from my house? You might think that simply loading up a truck and donating the stuff would be good, BUT. That was a big but. Ready for it? So much of the clothing was junk. Broken zippers, lost buttons, rips, tears, ugly stains, used by a dozen babies and washed 10, 000 times, pilled until the pills were all the fabric left. Yes, people actually give clothes like that to other people. To use. With pride! I don't even know. So that meant that I would have to sort through every last thread of clothing, to find what was usable and what wasn't. Hours and hours of sorting. Then hauling. Just, no!
     What I did instead was to go out and buy several large, plastic storage totes. I threw all of the clothing into the totes and stored them in the garage. Then, I had little number 3. A girl. 2 was a boy. It happened again with the clothing. Then, little number 4, another boy. Little number 5, another boy. Little number 6, another boy. Guess when I went through the original jumble of clothing in the plastic tubs? When Little number 5 came along. I finally dug through all of those clothes. Roughly 50% of the clothing was unusable. I'm not talking about taste or preference, here. I'm talking about unusable. Do you know how many totes that was? Four. Four huge plastic totes FULL of clothing that was unusable. Of the Four totes of clothing that was usable, I saved about one tote to use. I now had all of my totes labelled and organized for future reference, and I still do. I go out to the shed twice a year for the totes. It looks like a clothing shop stock room in the house for about a week while I sort through who out grew what, what can pass down, and what needs to be packed away for next year.
    PLEASE be aware when you are gifting, or blessing someone with something, that it is clean and functional. This is for real. And for heaven's sake, if you have cats, make for sure there isn't a cat poop in the bag with the clothes. I'm not even kidding.
     Call this a PSA, if you want. We have absolutely been blessed with the donation of clothing items for our children. Our kids have been better clothed by donation than what we would have been able to do new. Keep giving the clothes! Just please be sure they are something that you would be truly glad to receive yourself. Did I say that enough times? You are welcome, new mothers of the world. Carry on.

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