Friday, January 04, 2008

What a Mess

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I cannot seem to control the flow of objects in my house. There are too many of them, and they all need to find a place to live, and it is too big a job for one person who spends time doing things other than putting things away.

Like this morning, for instance. It's the last day of winter break for the kids. We slept late. I am allowing them to wander and play and fight and get into mischief because I am trying to write and read for awhile this morning. Having been on vacation for ten days, there wasn't much of a chance for me to do those things. I am surveying the premises from my seat at the breakfast table and things don't look good: There are still empty boxes and wrapping paper on the living room floor from the last blast of present-opening two nights ago. The mail, about two weeks' worth, is lying in heaps on the kitchen island. Also there are stacks of books piled there, as well as the travel-related contents of my giant mama-purse, which I hastily dumped out before dashing off to jury duty yesterday morning.

There is so much Christmas Crap to clean up and dispose of. All the clothes from our trip are still wadded in our suitcase. I have no clean underwear. You know, the usual post-vacation duties lie in wait. Now that my husband is gainfully employed, I do all of this myself, and it reminds me what I didn't like about SAHM-hood and housewifery in the past years when I, like, lost my mind.

One of the ways I regained sanity was by retraining my mind to see the mess around me as a part of the scenery and not something I had to clean up. I had to stop trying to correct things. I noticed that my regular mental habit was to fix my eye on something - my house, a book I was reading, other people - and decide how it should be improved. I noticed this caused mostly anguish. It gave me a permanent worry line between my eyebrows.

I am grateful to report that this mind-state wasn't permanent after all. I'm not doing it, as a habit, these days. I think the meds help a lot, and so does my yoga practice. I remember to laugh at the absurd, unstoppable fecundity of daily existence in all its servings of peanut butter toast, orange peels, plastic toys from Wal-Mart, shopping bags, dog hair, water stains, sippy cups with gnaw-marks on the spout, discarded band aids, phone calls, beeping appliances, doctor appointments, new friendships, dentist appointments, dog walks, e-mail conversations, computers, newspapers, dying plants, flaking paint, birth control, scratched floors, medications, yoga classes, malfunctioning automobiles, and the other ten thousand things that make up my home life. I can't control it, and I can't put it all in order. I can push the breakfast dishes aside and clear a space on the table to write.

And I can remember, as my teacher likes to repeat (in a the chirpy Indian accent of the teacher from who she heard this): "Do your yoga and all is coming."


Anonymous said...

Ugh those sippy cup lid teeth marks...I knew those bugged me!! I am amazed that you are able to retrain your mind to not let all that get to you. its funny, I go into someone's house and see that mess and think nothing of it but when I see it in my house I am instantly unsettled and upset and angry because it feels so out of control and i know I have to pretty much clean it all up. It makes me feel like crap because it feels like a reflection of me. I feel like i rarely see other peoples homes in such dissary and yes I do see my neighbors houses to grab my kids from an unplanned paydate so I know they din't clean to impress me, that is just how their house is all the fricking time and then i feel like "what is my problem why can't I keep it under control like that?" Yes I have small messy kids but so do it too much to ask for a touch of ocd? I am not a neat freak, never have been but now that being a SAHM is my job I feel like that is my job and i am failing....I need to retrain my brain big time huh?


Renee said...

Don't think of it as a mess, think of it as the primordial soup from which sprang life. :)

susie said...

The expectation that keeping a clean house is part of the SAHM job is a curious one. Just remember, SAHM does not have to equal housewife. Right? RIGHT??

Anonymous said...

I know you are totally right but it is hard not to be self-concious. But I do have to say, when I was a young working girl my desk was always a total disaster and yet I always knew where everything was and I got the job done so maybe I need to think of my "mess" at home that way. PS you should see my kitchen right now...I swear we didn't have Thanksgiving last night but you would think I did because there is so mauch crap in the sink and dishwasher!UGH

Kit said...

hey gorgeous,

well wrote! and i'm here to say that it doesn't automatically get better when the kids leave for college. by that time, there's 30 years of family life stored here and there. some of it was trash right under my nose, but after a while it takes on a sort of authority and ownership of your home.

i found help. my house is emptier, and usually neater, and when it is messy, i know i can get it back a little bit at a time. Susie, i cleared, and i mean cleared, out the former playroom, refinished the floor, painted a wall red, and now have a spacious yoga room. i can hardly believe it.

so, this may help or not, but in the spirit of possibility, i offer up a website, it won't look very yogic, but flylady helped me establish a before bed routine, and morning routine, and it's been very liberating. the mind retraining, like you said, is the important part. housecleaning frenzies don't bring lasting change.


Anonymous said...

Hah! I just signed up on flylady yesterday!!!!
But I still need to shine my sink! I am going to do it this weekend when I can focus:)

Kit said...

Hi Rose,

You rock! May your shiny sink bring a big smile to your face in the morning. And remember, babysteps.