My Mother the Hoarder

Mar 16

My Mother the Hoarder

I always half-jokingly tell my friends that my mother is a Level 2 hoarder. One time I was watching an episode of Hoarders and saw an old Asian woman in Hawaii who kept so much junk, her poor husband had to sleep in the car. She had so many of my mom’s mannerisms that it was eerie. I don’t know if it’s a common Asian trait or what, but my mom loves to hold onto random crap. Off the top of my head, here’s some random stuff that Mom always stocks up on:

  • fast food napkins
  • peppermint hard candies
  • funeral programs
  • wedding table favors
  • silk flowers
  • clothes from every era (more on that in a later post)
  • canned goods
  • perfume (from my now-38-year old sister: “She still has my Love’s Baby Soft from when I was a tween”)
  • keys from cars she doesn’t have any more
  • ointment regardless of the expiration date (“It still good, they always put a date on it”)

When my mom sneak-sold my childhood home, she moved into what she described as a “1,700 square foot rambler.” The first time I visited her and stayed in her new house, I rolled my eyes at her embellishment. The top level of the home is 1,700 square feet, but there’s also a full basement that has a living room, extra bedroom and bathroom, and tons of closets, effectively doubling the square footage. This is a dangerous amount of storage for a hoarder. I ended up taking photographic evidence of my mom’s pack-rat tendencies:

The basement freezer

When she’s cooking, Mom likes to make 500% more than what she needs so she can freeze the rest. If there’s an apocalypse, I can rest assured that my mom is doing just fine, sustaining off frozen corn and salsa.

A closer inspection of some of the frozen bags reveals my mom’s less-than-stellar spelling:

Hot peppers (the second 'p' is optional)

I like to think she just labeled this one as "stuff," but it also used to say "cabbage" before it got rubbed off

This one is pretty baffling — if she weren’t a total weakling, I’d have thought she got a job as a luggage handler for Northwest Airlines and brings home the unclaimed suitcases as part of her kickbacks:

She's a 747 away from being her own airline

Here’s my mom dressed in an unfortunate outfit, posing with two stacked rows of bottled water:

She's also been hoarding those jeans since 1991

My greatest find was a special memorial issue of Star magazine after Princess Diana died back in 1997:

Her death must have hit Mom hard enough to keep this for nearly 14 years

I have no idea why she holds onto so much random stuff. My siblings and I good-naturedly put up with it, but in the back of my mind I feel that we’re not too far off from giving A&E a call. Trust me, it’d be the funniest episode of Hoarders ever.


  1. Hey, what’s wrong with that outfit? It looks disturbingly close to my everyday work attire!

  2. Don’t forget the packets of ketchup and soy sauce! haha

  3. Krista /

    OMG. I can totally relate to that. My mom freezes EVERYTHING. She’ll go to Buffalo Wild Wings with a group of her Korean friends an they’ll each order 50 wings just so they can freeze the rest.

    Last time I was there she made about five pounds of bulgogi for three of us.

    AND she still has clothes from the ’80s that she won’t get rid of because she’s going to diet and fit back into them again. It doesn’t matter that they’re hideous.

    • Rebecca /

      Not only can my mom still fit in her 80’s clothes, she can fit in my pre-teen clothes. She’s always been tiny (and a clothes hoarder).

      I love that your mom freezes leftover fast food wings. That is impressive.

      As for making 5 lbs of bulgogi for you guys, one time when I was visiting, my mom asked if I wanted lunch and made me a mixing bowl full of udon to eat. I got like 1/5 of the way through it before throwing in the towel. She was like “Why you no finish? You not hungry?” Yes Mom, I was hungry but I have the stomach capacity of the average human being, not a bison.

  4. Nessy /

    Your mom reminds me of my best friend’s Filipino mom. XD
    Not just with the making massive amounts of food and freezing it or hoarding everything from clothing to fast food condiments, but nearly everything you’ve posted about your mom.
    Maybe it’s a collective asian-thing to be like this just to confuse the rest of us. *shifty-eyes*
    But it’s a wonder my friend’s mom can find anything at all in her closet. I’ll be visiting and she’ll yell downstairs to my friend’s younger sister, Liliane, “Lil-leeeee, have you seen my (insert random object here)?”
    Liliane: “No, have you checked your closet?”
    mom: “Yahhh, but I can’t find it. Too much stuff. You sure you didn’t see it down there?”
    And this is where my friend and her sister make the face: >.<

  5. My mom is the same way. I actually moved out because there’s no room in my childhood home. My mom will save plastic containers, clothes that no longer fit, empty glass jars (she doesnt drink but likes to make moonshine to give to family), etc. There are so many dishes & cups that I like to use them for target practice on the range and she would never notice. Her basement is full of potted plants & fish bowls, in addition to everything else. There’s an extra freezer & a huge fridge bc she likes to cook for an army for no reason. It’s always been cluttered in her home but since my father died she has become almost a full blown hoarder. Occasionally I will fill up trash bags of old food to clean out her fridge. I’ll also fill up trash bags full of clothes & etc to hide in the trunk of my car. If she doesnt ask about any missing items after a month I will take those items to Goodwill. She somehow manages to refill any empty space in her home with more stuff though…

  6. Tweet /

    Well my mom is bi-racial Caucasian / Black . Sounds like doesn’t matter what race just ageing is all. I’m scared, because its an illness and I don’t know how to deal with not wanting to part from the 10 bags of saltines u have collected from Subway cuzz u can’t fit in your kitchen anymore and u eat soup everyday .

    Or the fact the she has 30 or more new brooms and dustpans but u can’t see the floor anywere in the house . HELP !

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