Monday, September 6, 2010

When perfectionism crosses frugality, I am in a lot of trouble.

Last week started a vacation week for Bob, which translated to a long list of things he wanted to accomplish.  What wasn't on the list was our bedroom closet system falling down.  (I was going to post a picture but didn't want to press my luck with my husband, who just realized he has lost a half day to this mess.)  I guess you really can have too many clothes hanging in a closet, or perhaps we were in need of stronger supports, but either way Bob's schedule completely changed Monday morning when we were faced with a large pile of clothes on the bedroom floor.  

We took this opportunity to clean out unwanted items (it was really out of necessity, because obviously there were too many items in the closet!).  While Bob secured the wire shelves, I started sorting.  So many items we had stored, though they were way beyond even donation stage.  After an hour or so we had the donation pile, the hang back up pile, and, finally, a huge bag of clothes to be thrown away.

I looked at that bag, mostly full of old sweatshirts and sweatpants (circa 1995), and the frugal perfectionist in me started to think.  "I could turn those rags into something useful, say, a rag rug!"  You know, just like our grandmothers (or perhaps great-grandmothers) used to do.  Oh dear.  You see, I used to do things like that.  When I was home full time with a newborn and a toddler I would attempt every frugal project listed in The Tightwad Gazette (a nice book series, by the way--just don't try to do everything in the book!).  One time I took all of our old jeans, cut out several squares, and made a rugged jeans quilt.  It did come in handy as a picnic blanket, and the damn thing was indestructible.  I guess at the time being able to work on a big project helped maintain my sanity while caring for two infants.  However, when I think of making a rag rug now I can make a list of things that would be a better use of my time:  
read a book
play with the kids
walk the dog
cook an amazing meal
work in the garden
pet the cats
write a blog
watch a sunrise
mop the kitchen floor

Sometimes you have to realize that time is valuable--more valuable than recycling old sweatpants.  

I watched Bob carry that bag out into the garage, and I let it go.  A wave of relief went through me--I didn't have to do anything with that bag, just watch it go out the door.  I was free from committing myself to another endless project, and the closet was free from that clutter.  I did however decide to sit down and watch an episode of Hoarders, just in case the desire came up to retrieve the bag from the garage at the last minute.  Oh yes, letting that bag go was definitely the right thing to do.


  1. You, my friend, have brought tears to my eyes once more... I am so proud of the grown up you have become!!! I am hopeful that I, too, might grow up :)

  2. I have a growing pile on the floor outside my bedroom door, another in the laundry room, and yet one more (okay maybe more like 4) in the garage. These are "yard sale" piles. If I were to take the example of my sweet & dear childhood friend & make "donate" and "trash" the new pile titles and follow through (or better yet, let the husband carry through!) The thought provokes me to give up the idea of making enough to take the family to McDonald's for lunch and get the crap out of the house before you sit down to watch ME on hoarders!