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My Professional Background - Once upon a time, I wanted to be a motivational speaker. Actually, I was a professional motivational speaker for about 5 years.:
If you read my post last Friday you know that our weekend was a fun-filled one. (Read heavy on the sarcasm.)

I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend 12 hours cleaning out the garage and another 14 hours haggling with strangers about how much they should pay for box upon box of once-treasured memories?

I had a colonoscopy once. And it was more fun.

As I sifted through the copious amounts of stuff we acquired in 8 years of marriage and 7 military moves, I realized something about myself:  Regardless of the actual value, it is painful for me to put a price on the things we once used and loved. It’s not that I’m attached to those items per se, but I struggle to release the death grip I have on a book I’ve never read when the time comes to hand it to some guy who wants to sell my memories on Amazon.

[Oh wow, she really does belong on an episode of Hoarders.]

Yes, I’m overly sentimental when it comes to stuff. It’s stupid. And I know that. There’s a reason why the people on Hoarders are required to sell and/or donate the things they tend to hoard.

It’s called therapy.

But I never expected to have a mini panic attack like I had on Friday night as I prepared for the military post-wide garage sale on Saturday morning.

Here’s what happened:

Friday night around 7 p.m., I was surrounded by memories. Piles and piles of memories. Truckloads of memories. Mountains of memories.

You get the point.

I came across several boxes that I didn’t even know I had out there. They contained my favorite pair of well-worn maternity jeans.

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The ones that got me through both pregnancies.

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I found receiving blankets that still smelled like the British laundry detergent we used when we lived in England…

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…and baby clothes we bought the summer we lived in Spain.

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I took out one piece of clothing after another, brought it to my face and inhaled deeply. As if the smell of those items would help me remember all the details of pregnancy and the early days with our babies that now seem so fuzzy.

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I thought about the baby we lost in January and how he or she might have used some of those items. And I wondered if we might still have more children one day…

All these thoughts filled my mind as I tried not to fall into a giant heap and just sob there on the cold, filthy garage floor.

I argued with myself for a good, long while before I decided that I could actually part with some of the baby and maternity items I found—like the plain onesies stained with baby fluids, the maternity jeans that made me look like a whale, and the other pair of maternity jeans that gave me horrible indigestion.

You know, the memories I don’t mind forgetting.

I realized I needed a place to display these items, so I opened the garage to grab the patio table from the back yard. When I returned to the garage, there was a middle-aged woman standing smack-dab in the middle of my somewhat-organized chaos. She was rifling through the piles of clothing I had just sorted, and I had to blink a few times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating from dust inhalation. She caught me off-guard, in the middle of this intense emotional roller coaster, and I wasn’t quite sure what to say.

So, in my typical, non-confrontational way, I said, “Oh…hello there!”

I know. If I had a burglar in my house, I’d probably say, “Hi! Can I help you find something? Do you need a bag? Paper or plastic? Here, let me help you load that into your getaway car.”

Good thing I just sold all my business books on assertive communication.

Motivational speaker FAIL.

She said,

Hi! I hope you don’t mind if I look through all your stuff. You have some really nice things! Actually, it looks like you could use some help organizing all this stuff. I’ll help you. I have nothing else to do. I don’t mind at all. My husband is in the car, and he doesn’t mind either. By the way, do you have a church in the area? Here’s a flyer from our church. It’s just down the road. Oh! I love this stainless steel blender. It looks brand new. You have $10 on it. Will you take $4? How much for these maternity jeans? I have a friend who might need them. I’m not sure if they’ll fit her, though. Will you take $3 for this crock pot? Cuuuuuute baby clothes. I should get some of these. I’m going to a baby shower next week. You can go on inside and eat your dinner while it’s still hot. I’ll just organize all your stuff. Will you take a personal check? Hang on, I’m getting a call…

And she proceeded to stand in the middle of my garage and help me organize my piles of precious memories. FOR THREE AND A HALF HOURS.

No, I’m not exaggerating.

I truly was thankful to have the help. Brian spent the entire day and night with the kids, so he wasn’t able to clean and organize 8 years’ worth of stuff.

He was pretty sad about that.

It occurred to me that God could have sent this woman to help me get motivated to sell all this junk—materialistic things that won’t take me back to those first days with our babies or help me remember what it feels like to have a little foot pressed up against my belly button.

But I felt my face get flush every time she picked up a piece of our past and asked, “Is that the lowest you’ll go on this?”

It was more than I could handle.

In my most non-confrontational voice I said, “You know, I probably won’t even have time to deal with these clothes before the sale starts tomorrow morning. So, let’s just box them all back up. I’ll sell them another time.”

Like, never.

So, this woman and her daughter (who had arrived by this time) helped me box up the clothes while her other daughter (who arrived a bit later) found a few items to purchase as well. Her husband and son came along to carry their purchased items to the car, and I’m pretty sure someone else related to them ended up in the garage at some point.

Around 11 p.m., they payed me for the items they dug out of the piles of memories and headed on their merry way.

(I found out after the fact that the post really frowns on Friday night pre-sales before the post-wide garage sale on Saturday. I didn’t know this at the time.)

I sat there for the longest time just shell-shocked.

I had such a wide range of emotions. On the one hand, I was thankful that I had a $150 check in my pocket. (I know. I should have insisted on cash. Motivational speaker fail #2.)

But, on the other hand, I couldn’t believe how violated I felt as these strangers caused me to put a price on my memories before I was prepared to do so.

This garage sale business is much more painful than I anticipated.

I’ll fill you in later on Saturday’s sale, but I was curious to know:

Did/do you have a hard time selling maternity and baby items?

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Comments to "Garage Sale Therapy"

  1. wallsmom

    April 29, 2013

    Katy, With my fist child, I could not bear to part with anything.  I saved all of my maternity clothes and all of her clothes up to age 1 in the attic.  When I got them down years later they were outdated, stained, stretched, etc. I kept telling myself I would make a quilt out of them.  haha……..then I threw them away and felt so guilty that I didn’t get rid of them sooner at a yard sale when someone could have used them.  Yes, I know exactly how you feel!

  2. Tracey DAngelo

    April 29, 2013

    I saved all of my maternity clothes and my daughter’s things for three years. I kept a few favorites I just couldn’t part with and sold the rest before the items were completely dated. I take a lot of pictures and have been keeping up with scrapbooks, so I am still able to have re-live those memories through pictures. Good luck!! 🙂

  3. mustloveleftovers

    April 29, 2013

    I keep making piles, and then re-piles, and then smaller piles, pulling stuff back and putting it in again.  I think, sooner or later, we are always ready to part with it, as we realize that what we actually have in our small children, are walking talking memories that keep updating as each season passes, and giving us better versions of themselves.  It’s always nice to hang on to a few things, but it’s also so therapeutic to clean house too.  I so understand your mental process.  Inevitably, you’ll look at some stuff way later on and wonder why the heck you didn’t get rid of it sooner.

  4. imklvr

    April 29, 2013

    Yard sale aside….I clicked and read all the past posts you highlighted above.  I don’t quite know what to say but still want to.  Something like ” Come here and let me give you a hug”.  Like, let me love all the hurt away.  Yeah, I know, I can’t and it’s corny anyway.  But God can.  And he will.  In His time.  So…..you’ll be in my prayers.  Dona (that’s my name, imklvr is my screen thing.  Also what I am…klvr.  Get it?)

    • katyinacorner

      April 30, 2013

      imklvr Thanks for the prayers and the virtual hug, Dona. And for reading, participating and encouraging me more than you know. 😉

  5. Katy’s Mama

    April 29, 2013

    You are more like your Mama than you would probably ever want to admit.  I always have kept the special outfits, toys, books, etc. and gotten rid of the rest.  Getting rid of clothes is not my problem.  My problem is containers that I might one day need for a flower arrangement, furniture I bought to fix and haven’t gotten to yet, and bedspreads.  The storage house is full.  But this weekend the church is having a Yard Sale to raise money for a group to take medical supplies to Peru.  Cleaning stuff out for a good cause seems easier!!  Plus, I don’t have to see people want to pay pennies for my STUFF!!!!!

    • katyinacorner

      April 30, 2013

      Katy’s Mama I don’t have a problem admitting that I’ve become just like you. Nope. Not at all. Not even a little. …Nope. I’m totally happy about it. Totally. 🙂

  6. Bad Parenting Moments

    April 30, 2013

    It’s funny. As the child of a military family, we moved so much that I attach very little sentimental value to my things-n-stuffs. Every time we moved, Mom made us fill the requisite, “2 bags!” to toss. After years of this, I just got used to letting go. It’s the hardest thing to do, letting go. But, when you show the pic of the cute baby in Spain, well, OBVIOUSLY you can’t get rid of any of that. I mean, we’re not animals. Wait, we are animals. Human animals. Sigh. P.S. Will you take a 3rd party out of state check for the crock-pot?

  7. annettecaudell

    May 2, 2013

    Katy, with my second child, my son, I was sooooooo ready to not be fat and shot of breath with my ribs cracking every time I took a breath ( because he was breach and his little head was under my rib), and he high blood pressure and 15 lbs of water weight that I gained the last few DAYS (yes, I said days) that I gave my clothes away a week to the day that child was born!!!! Lol. I swore that I was NEVER going through that again!!! Until a year later, when we found our we were having number three! Lol. But because that one was so hard, the last one was a breeze! To tell you the truth, I would give almost anything to feel that fat….and pure joyous feeling again:-) So I am more sensitive now….and cry looking at pictures or thinking of our baby days! They grow so fast and are truly a blessing from God.
    Annette

  8. Kjdennis

    September 20, 2013

    Ummm…yeah….. I just went through clothes last week that my son wore as a baby/toddler. He’s 10 years old now. In my defense though, I was holding on to them in hopes that one day my husband would give in to the idea of another baby and we would have another boy. (We also have 2 girls ages 8 and 5). I have finally given up on the hope of a fourth child, but it was still pretty hard to get rid of some of that stuff. I actually did keep some items from when each child was little. Keeping a few treasured items makes it easier to release the others.

  9. Stephanie W

    September 20, 2013

    Maternity? No–mainly because hardly any were originally mine and were passed between a few of us. Plus, the women who wanted them were so excited and what wasn’t bought was donated to the pregnancy crisis center because of their huge need for them. Baby clothes and stuff? No, but Rebecca and I do stroll down memory lane as we sort, organize and put things out. We keep a few precious memories and the rest goes. It helps that all of our kids share clothes so there are memories of outfits attached to multiple kids. Plus they have a lot of hand-me-downs as well. I want the space back that they are taking. And it helps me to think of the excitement someone else will have dressing their child(ren) in these clothes. I will tell you–we price these items (particular baby clothes) with a price we won’t negotiate. We will big ticket items, but we are low pricers on baby clothes–so we hang a sign reminding people of their good fortune of being with us and remind them not to try and negotiate. 🙂 But I do wonder if there will be more one day that will need it–should that day come–I will find another yard sale to shop at! 🙂

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