Spring Cleaning
Let’s face it, there’s something about spring that makes people want to turn their life around. Frankly, I’m not sure what it is. But every year around this time, I wake up with a sudden, inexplicable urge to turn the mattress.

And shampoo the carpet. And even wash the windows.

And to think that just two weeks before I was content to lie on the sofa in my slippers watching the cobwebs in the ceiling corners sway in the breeze. But, I tell you, no more. Once springtime hits a person can never be too organized.

Don’t bother asking me why this happens. It could be that the sudden freedom after being cooped up in the house all winter makes me giddy. Or maybe all of the new flowers and baby birds give the illusion of a fresh start. Or perhaps I’m possessed.

But my theory is that, by spring, all of the good oxygen has been used up in the house, which makes me start hallucinating.

Whatever the reason, I decided to kick off this spring season by getting rid of all the clothes in my closet that:

(a) I haven’t worn in over five years,

(b) I bought sometime before 1982, or

(c) won’t fit onto my body without the assistance of a power vise or a bone corset.

On the surface, cleaning out your closet may seem like an easy process. But, after all, so do wood carving and figure skating. The problem is that, for some people, dealing with clothes can be a very emotional experience. Much like getting on the scale or shopping at two-for-one sales.

Nevertheless, if all these years as a woman have taught me anything at all, it’s that the first rule about dealing with clothing is that you need to remain detached and objective: you need a system. So I planned to sort my clothes into two piles: keep and discard.

Now I bet you’re thinking that this sounds like a practical plan. And it was. That is, until I pulled out the first article of clothing: a red sweater with a Scottie dog on the front. Even though I hadn’t worn it in five years, it didn’t quite belong in the discard pile because, by golly, it still fit. And any fool knows that no woman in her right mind would give away any article of clothing that fits. So I did the only thing I could think of: I made a separate pile for “B-list clothing that buttons.”

Next, I found a pair of dress slacks and trendy jeans that were only two sizes smaller than my current size. I considered them a moment then carefully put them in the “has designer label” pile.

But wait, there’s more.

Shortly after that, I started another stack made up solely of 15-year-old knit shirts and designated it “faded, but doesn’t need ironing” pile. Then I put a pair of black leather pants (size 5) in my “proof I once had a life before children” pile. And I’m not even going to mention the bell-bottom macramé pantsuit except to say that it qualified for multiple piles.

Then my husband wandered in.

“What happened?” he asked, “Has there been some kind of explosion?”

“Very funny,” I said. “I’m cleaning out my closet.”

I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t convinced.

“There’s the discard pile.” I pointed to a knit purple scarf lying by itself on the floor. “See?”

“That’s it?” he asked. “You’re kidding, right?”

His survival instinct must’ve warned him that the only truly wise thing to do at this moment was to back slowly out of the room and leave me alone.

Needless to say, I waited until he was gone to move the scarf to the “too practical to throw away” pile.

After all, it’s spring – and you can’t ever be too organized.

Debbie Farmer is the author of Life in the Fast Food Lane (Surviving the Chaos of Parenting). You can read more of Debbie’s columns on her Web site:

From United Parenting Publications, April 2002.