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Living with the mess


Off-site it's been brought to my attention that some AP's find it a little confusing and disturbing to see how their adopted children are keeping their rooms/private spaces.  One AP wrote:

I have already hauled out 6 large kitchen bags of papers, torn pieces of scraps, receipts, yarn pieces, Trader Joe's Stickers, and labels of soup packages all from her room and her playarea. I have not gone into her closet, I have not done this behind her back. I checked under her bed to vacuum and there is a sea of little pieces of papers torn up, What is going on? What do I do?

My response was quite simple, as I see situations like this being very simple -- see the situation from the child's POV, knowing "mess" may in fact be a child's important collection.  Armed with this insight, the parent can then adjust his/her reaction so both parent and child can find a way to effectively communicate with eachother, and in-turn work together -- that way the child (and parent) can learn to find a way to keep meaningful keepsakes for the child's sake, without becoming a messy sloppy hoarding freak.

But it occurred to me, this subject-matter is not so simple, as it reminds me of my own childhood, and how my Amother would frequently gut and clean my room, without me knowing what it was she was doing.  I suppose she was doing both herself and me a favor, but I felt violated and invaded, and her actions made me feel as though I could not trust her with my things or my feelings.  In my own case, I would simply come home, and all would be cleaned... and organized.  I remember such a clean setting would put me in such a state of panic, as I discovered no sign of my collections, (or my food stash), could be found.  I would have to be thankful and grateful for the favor she did for me... and yet I hated what she did to me and my things.

I cannot express the horror and hate that cleaning-mission of hers would bring me.

It was as if everything I saved and kept didn't matter.  It's as if my needs were not valued or important.  Not once did she ask if she could touch and move or remove my things  She simply assumed what she did and what she decided was more than alright -- it was "best".  As usual, her assumptions about me and my habits and what I wanted were w-r-o-n-g.

Now, in hind-sight, as a mom, myself, I can see how my Amother's interpretation of my room was, "it's an unhealthy mess".  But in my mind, my collections and keepsakes were an extension of me, myself, and all the important memories I wanted to keep.  I kept things not because of what they were, but each scrap, each wad of garbage, each stupid useless string each piece of chewed gum and broken crayon held memories and associations I wanted to literally hold, and keep.  .... and my stale food collection?  It served a very important purpose, since food was not always available to me when I was hungry.  [Why didn't she understand I needed to eat when I was hungry, not when she told me it was time to eat?] 

Obviously, there were deep adoption-orphan issues hidden in my room's mess.

Are there adoptees or AP's who have struggled with similar/like issues, either in the past, or in the present... and if so, how was hoarding/saving important memory keep-sakes addressed by the Aparents?  Was it?

by Kerry on Tuesday, 28 June 2011