How to Tell That Your Mom’s a Covert Hoarder

December 21, 2011

in Everything Else, Grandma, Is It Just Me?, Why It's Hard Being Me

comet next to olive oil, what was she thinking, yeah, this is normal,

If your mom uses her limited cabinet space to store 50,000 supermarket bags, she might run out of room for normal household items.  If you look under the sink and  find grocery items nestled beside caustic chemicals, heed this simple warning: do NOT try her homemade salad dressing.

spray starch, cooking spray, bug spray, furniture polish

Here’s another tableau from under the sink of a covert hoarder: spray starch, cooking spray, bug spray, furniture polish…  sure, that makes sense.  If your mother seems to organize by “type of nozzle,” you might want to see what’s taking up undue storage space elsewhere.

compulsive hoarder of plastic containers and glass jars

If your mother has lots of containers to store leftovers, yet ironically, keeps no food in the house and appears to subsist on biscotti and rice crackers dipped in whitefish salad, she might be a covert hoarder.

my mother, the covert hoarder

If you find a collection like this, your dear mother might be a covert hoarder.  Then again, there could be another explanation.  The Smithsonian might one day express interest in displaying racks from every toaster oven she’s ever owned. 

And clearly, the old microwave plate is handy in case she and her friends want to play the world’s most dangerous game of frisbee.

One last question: does your mother have a used wrapping paper collection?  Does she save boxes from department stores that went out of business during the Truman administration?  Does she actually own a roll of 50-year old wrapping paper that you have never seen used to cover a present in your entire life?

50 year old wrapping paper

If so, I’m sad to report, she may very well be a covert hoarder.

The question then becomes:

What the hell are you going to do about it?

I strongly urge you to cart all that stuff out of her house while she is at the podiatrist, getting her nails done or sound asleep at whatever horrible Harry Connick, Jr. movie she used her senior discount to nap in that Saturday afternoon.  Oh wait, that’s my life.

I think if you are in the same boat as I, you should do everything in your power to clear out the ridiculous load of crap she’s got hidden in her closets as soon as you discover it.  That way no one will ever stumble upon the forgotten cache of embarrassing items from your own past you find lurking in a dark corner. 

To wit: I lay bare my own horrifying discovery to save you from making the same mistake as I.  (Cue strings from Psycho)

Rod Stewart picture disk, yes, I'm embarrassed

I have no memory of purchasing this, but I still feel dirty.

Daughters of covert hoarders, I implore you to take action.   Your mother’s house might look tidy on the surface, but delve deeper.  Look under the sink; check out those bottom drawers.  

It isn’t easy for me to admit I bought a Rod Stewart picture disc, but if I can help just one family, it will be worth it.  

Don’t let this happen to you.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexandra December 21, 2011 at 12:37 am

Oh, save me, Kablooey!! save me!!! I am a plastic lid hoarder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Smooshiest December 21, 2011 at 4:17 am

I’m not sure what Rod Stewart is doing to that woman, but I can tell you you’ve probably saved covert hoarders all over North America. Too hilars!!!


Mrs Dzo December 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I can’t get past “organizing by nozzle type…” DYING.

Also, I bet my mother’s wrapping paper collection puts your mother’s to shame.


Varda (SquashedMom) December 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Your mother and mine (and, true confessions, me too!) have a LOT in common. We come from the same hoarding stock. Whenever I go to see her I throw out gobs of plastic bags and old yogurt containers and little packets of sugar and ketchup and jam that she nicks from every restaurant she visits. (Because she is also a closet old-lady-klepto.)

Happy Hanukkah, my friend!


K A B L O O E Y December 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm

@ Alexandra: I forget, does J Bern have an excess of lids or a dearth? Because if it’s the latter, I smell a Chanukah gift.
@ Smooshiest: I don’t even like Rod Stewart except circa Maggie May. Have NO idea when or why I got that record.
@ Mrs. Dzo: Thanks. Nozzle’s just a funny word. Nozzle. And I bet you’re right about the mom v. mom wrap slap-down, but if you compare the size of my mother’s apartment with the amount of space taken up by gift-wrapping paraphernalia, she might win.
@ Varda: Oh, me too. I’ve got loads of useless crap as well as clothes I moved into this house 8 years ago and have never worn. As for synchronicity of psychoses, did you see the dozen large yogurt containers in the photo? Those are the ones I didn’t toss out. Most of the containers are actually from egg drop soup, I think. As for the klepto thing, I’ve apparently been scarred by the times she swiped Burger King trays and Sizzler cutlery. She definitely passed it on to me, but I’ve tried to go straight since I graduated from college.


Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite December 28, 2011 at 11:45 am

“nozzle type” – now there’s a way to roganize your stuff in an original manner….


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