Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Inside the Minds of the White House: Part 1

Allow me to take you back 20 years.  My family moved to a new house and city when I was in high school, a difficult thing to be sure, but I'm not going to complain about that.  (If we hadn't moved, I never would have met Kent.)  The new house had more rooms, and as the oldest child, I was given my own bedroom for the first time.  Not only did I have the room to myself, but it was the room that doubled as the guest bedroom, so I was upgraded from a twin to a brand-new, queen-size bed.  I carefully selected the new bedding to be the focal point of my sunny room, and it was beautiful!  Suddenly, I morphed from being a sloppy teenager to being quite tidy.  I probably took it too far.

My friends loved to play a game that I think was meant to mock me, but I took it as a compliment.  I would leave my bedroom and they would remove a little nick knack from its place on my shelf or dresser or even closet.  With one glance around the room, I could identify what had been taken.  When that became boring, they would leave everything in place, but just turn or slightly move an object.  Because I knew the exact distances and angles of everything in proportion to each other, I still had no trouble identifying the thing that had been upset.

Don't think my OCD was restricted to nick knacks, either.  When I had achieved the perfectly made bed, I wanted to keep it that way.  The sheets were smoothed and tucked tightly with their hospital corners; the comforter hung evenly down all sides with just enough of the top turned down to reveal the reversible pattern; the pillows were plumped; and the ruffles of the bed skirt brushed the carpet exactly hide the sleeping bag I kept stowed under the bed.  That's right.  I pulled out my sleeping bag each night, took off the foremost pillow on the bed, and curled up on the floor. After all, I saw no reason to ruin a perfect thing, so I wasn't about to climb into bed and MESS IT UP!

No one ever complained about my clean room.  My parents were probably grateful for my tidiness, which extended to my college years.  My roommates would tease me a bit and plan future reunions at my future house where they could play the "Neat and Tidy Game" in any room.  But we had forgotten one factor of that future. We hadn't considered the havoc of kids in those reunion plans.

I spent the first five years of motherhood fighting for an immaculate home.  It took a lot of tears (my own and my children's) and yelling and general frustration to maintain cleanliness.  Eventually I grew up and decided it wasn't worth it.  I could have either a clean house or emotionally healthy children.  After much deliberation--just kidding!--I chose the children.  That's not to say I don't look forward to the day when I can deep clean in the morning and the house will still look about the same at dinnertime. In fact, we're getting there.

My sister took three of my children home with her on Sunday night and kept them until Tuesday.  With the two youngest gone, the house stayed remarkably cleaner.  So I figure in four more years, I'll like how it looks again.

You may wonder, though, "What about the master bedroom?" Well, maybe I've let some of my neurosis sneak back in:

Kent's napping spot.  
(Why didn't he close the door on his dresser?!)


Mary said...

Truthfully, I almost never ask Kent to nap on the floor. This just happened to be a recent Saturday when I had triumphantly cleaned the whole house, and my sanity needed to see a made bed when I came back to it at night.

Carolyn said...

Wow! My roommates played the 'tidy' game with me, too, but only to bug me. They knew they didn't have to tell me when they had moved something, because I'd find it and put it back immediately.

Pam Williams said...

I can relate--I was a good housekeeper until I had children. Now I prescribe to the new meme that only boring women have clean houses. So take comfort in the fact that having a few things out of place means you have an interesting life.

Jenni said...

Jake said he remembers you sleeping on the floor... and he never knew why you did it until now! :-)

mindy said...

Sigh, I can't ever pretend that I have been any good at keeping a room, let alone an entire house, tidy. But, this is another way that you are very much like my sister. Kinda crazy.