Mothering squirrels

The days are slowly getting shorter and just slightly cooler, school is back in session, and I have a little time to take stock of how my house is looking. So I’ve fallen this past week into “fall cleaning.” I started with the youngest girl’s bedroom, because I knew there were some toys and puzzles and such under her bed that I could sell or donate.

Naturally, the job turned into an hour and a half of sweaty work. Aided, I’m sure, by my second-oldest daughter, the youngest had a few huge squirrels’ nests of stuff stashed away in her room. The first I discovered was the most daunting and astonishing: a tall, empty box that had been used to ship a riding toy for my third daughter had been stored in the little one’s room (at her request, I believe, so she could play with it). I looked at it and noticed that there were some clothes and other things sticking out of the top. Turns out when I picked it up, the four-foot-tall box was completely filled. I tipped it over and dumped it and just about shrieked. Gaaahhh! I ended up pulling out all the storage containers from under the bed and all the containers off the shelves and having to pick one little item out of the nest at a time to restore it to its proper place. I ended up toting out a large bag of recycling and a small bag of trash and making a smallish pile of things to donate/sell at the consignment store. Afterwards, I felt great satisfaction in seeing the lovely, organized room.

Two of my daughters sort their own rooms, so I don’t generally have to spend any time in their rooms. I did help the 10-year-old get better organized in the spring, but she manages fine by herself usually. The 16-year-old likes to reorganize and sort as well. But that 14-year-old, well, my husband’s always called her “Mouse,” but I think that “Squirrel” would be a better nickname. Or maybe “Rat,” since she brings to mind Templeton’s ways, but that doesn’t sound very cute, does it? I have been putting off even looking in any of her storage containers because I know I’ll find all kinds of nests. Her room looks wonderfully neat as long as you don’t look INSIDE any of the under-bed or shelf containers. But take off those lids… AAAIIIIIEEEEE! It’s just better for me to practice a “don’t look, don’t scream” policy.

So here it is Labor Day, and as all mothers know, it’s not much of a holiday (unless you go on a vacation or trip of some kind, and even trips with children aren’t relaxing). The kids are home, sometimes a little bored. Me, I’m just putting them to work a bit in my fall cleaning sweep. And then we’ll go see a movie at the three-dollar theater. Happy holiday to us. I suppose it’s appropriate that my little squirrels and I are going to see a film about talking animals.

Author: Cathy Carmode Lim

I'm a copy editor, writer, and book reviewer with three decades of experience. My book review website is I'm a mom of four and grandma of three.

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