As the beautiful Suburban Kamikaze reminds us, plastic bins are the key to a well organized life.
I have bins for shoes. Bins for pictures. Bins for receipts.
Bins for clothes that each child has outgrown long before I’d hoped they would. Bins for clothes that have not been outgrown but have been painfully outworn and must be hidden away to prevent further parental embarrassment.
There are bins for out of fashion decorations. Bins for winter clothes. Bins for old school memories and camping gear and painting supplies.
And on each plastic lid is a strip of masking tape carefully labeled with black Sharpie, clearly designating the contents. “Shoes”. “Camping Stuff”. “Girls 18-24 months”.
I was reminded of these bins as I read a recent post at Shelli’s Sentiments.
She talked about not fitting anywhere. About not really being perfectly a part of this group or that, but always sort of floating half way between belonging. As she said, “it’s just painful sometimes when you don’t feel like you fit anywhere.”
I know this pain. This floating. This feeling like you don’t exactly Go in a bin properly – like an outgrown garment that you’re not ready to give away but no longer want to hang in your closet.
I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling like I belong in the blue plastic Rubbermaid labeled “misc. shit”.
In high school I was a cheerleader, as you’ve seen. But I was never The Cheerleader. Or the Homecoming Queen. Maye because I was also the drama geek and the speech nerd and one of the smart kids.
I had boyfriends here and there, and a small handful of girlfriends. But I was never wildly popular or firmly cemented within any particular “clique”.
I became a young mother. But I refused to fall into “that” bin, instead working hard to build a career and a respectable presence within the community. Of course, I still liked to laugh and smoke and drink too much on occasion. All of that led to me never really being at home with the other CCD teachers or PTA parents, no matter how many committees I served on. And the committees themselves I suppose prevented me feeling like I was ever really “like” the people I would drink and sing too loudly with on the weekends.
I’ve always been ridiculously younger than the other parents among my son’s classrooms. And now I find that while I am closer in age to the parents of my daughter’s set, I am one of very few with more than one child.
I wholeheartedly enjoy my play dates with Mom Groups. But I also find myself a little bored with conversations about potty training and scrapbooking and hoping in vain that someone will start bitching about the stress of working full time.
Shelli mentioned that, even in blogging, she hasn’t quite found her niche. And again, I read her words while nodding emphatically along side her. Every time I have to fill out one of those damned “what kind of blogger are you?” forms, I furiously wish I could check “mommy blogger” in good conscience.
I’m not a humor blog – I think the detailed saga of my depression discounts me for that. The fact that I’m being blocked by more and more IT departments I’m certain automatically discounts me from any sort of “parenting” genre. And I’ve yet to find the drop down menu that includes the category “I randomly blog about all kinds of shit.”
And sometimes – admittedly more often than I used to be – I am at peace with that “uniqueness”. Most days I don’t give a second thought to my own masking tape label and I have no desire to be stuck into a box.
But sometimes, on some days, I long for the comfort that comes from conformity. Anthropologists and Sociologists will tell you it is human nature to seek out your group, your herd, so to speak. And there are days when I’m drifting when I wonder what the hell is wrong with me that I can’t fulfill this basic human need.
Why am I so different?
Why can’t I just be like everyone else? Or at least a large chunk of someone elses.
Truth be told, I suppose (like Shelli) I do have my own herd. It’s small, like one of those cloth baskets meant to hold little more than a set of fabric napkins – but it’s mine just the same.
It’s my husband and my children – in many ways anyway.
And it is my mother and my father and my aunt and my cousins and my grandparents – who share my traditions and inside jokes that span decades.
And it is, most definitely, my baby brother. Who is cut so exactly from the same cloth as me that it is almost frightening while at the same time, comforting on a cellular level.
This is why I have opened up my home to guests for the next solid month. Because while it will be expensive and stressful and I’m sure at times intrusive to be sharing my house for well over 30 days with various people… they are my bins. They are my herd. They are the familiarity that allows me to breathe with the ease that can only come from knowing…
This Is Where You Belong.