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 enough...to 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?!)