Friday, October 05, 2007

Time to Regroup

Our house used to look like a model home. I was only content when it looked unlived-in, spare, with very little color and very little clutter. I'd joke about giving dirty looks to my knick-knacks for a few weeks before squirreling them away to a box in the basement. I once even yelled at an extra futon I'd tried out in the living room for extra seating. It took up too much space and made me ornery every time I looked at it. It's now in solitary confinement in the basement, a pretty stiff penalty seeing as it really didn't do anything wrong. I couldn't stand visual clutter. I couldn't stand surfaces covered with stuff. I couldn't breathe in a room with too much furniture or stacks of things in corners or a countertop with too many things atop it.

I've had to learn to lighten up.

My friend Joan's mother lived with them as she slowly gave in to Alzheimer Disease. One of their favorite stories is one where their mother, in a less-than-lucid moment, looked around at Joan's house and said, "I don't know who lives here, but these people have given up."

I've been uttering a similar phrase lately.

I've learned to let it go for varying reasons. I don't want to spend my entire life picking things up. Surely I'm a more interesting person than that? I don't want to spend my entire life telling my kids to pick things up. Surely there are other things a kid would rather hear from his mother for 18 years? And I don't want to be a slave to my neuroses.

I used to blame my mom, because she had a lot of things for me to dust over and around. But really, her house wasn't cluttered. She has a stronger love for decorations than I do, but it was always tastefully done. So, sorry Mom. I take back all that "you did it to me" projecting of my earlier years.

But even though I've learned to let go a lot more and a lot more often, I still, ultimately, feel the most sane when my house is in order. And by order, I mean clean, uncluttered, and unlived in. As much as I'd love to say I delight in kids' projects strewn about the kitchen or artwork taking up every inch of wall space or on-going carpentry projects covering the basement, it just ain't so. So shoot me.

So today, I got the itch. After weeks of transition from unschooling-to-school, weeks of nightly soccer games and practices and being on a different field every day, and weeks of ignoring the growing piles and spreading clutter and messy overflow in every direction, I asked the kids to humor my angst and take a gander at the long to-do list of cleaning projects. They're old enough to know that a sane mama is much more fun to be around than a drowning-in-dust-bunnies mama who can't see straight, so they took on a few projects and got busy. As the old saying goes, "If mama ain't happy, nobody's happy." And while I try very very hard not to
spew my ugliness around, the fact is once in a while, I need things to return to center so I can regroup and start fresh.

Today I get to leave for my women's retreat (WaHOO) with my kitchen looking like this:

And my living room like this:

And even my yard like this:

And that feels most excellent. I can breathe! I can breathe. I channel my dad and his

astounding, mind-boggling, off-the-charts work ethic when I need to crank out every possible chore in one day and all before a departure time of 3:30 in the afternoon, and I utter a couple of cornfield-grrrl phrases he'd have used, too.

Time to get-er-done.... All I wanna see are *ssholes and elbows..... Time to hit-er in the sh*tter....

He'd be proud, I'm sure of it. And just for kicks, let's have one last look at my lovely clean kitchen. Hello, beautiful...

And maybe just one more. Ahhhh....

I think I'm in love. *sigh*


K. said...

First of all, you have just a gorgeous home anyway. And it does look SO stunning, I don't blame you for being in love! But I'm so scared for you, too, because is there really any chance that it will be like that when you get home? :P I fear you may be setting yourself up for a huge fall.

I don't want to take up a ton of space here, so maybe sometime I'll blog on this issue, too, but I am SO very like you on this. But I'm lazy, too, so after years of rehabilitation I rest somewhere in between. Not in that healthy space of balance, mind you, but more in a one day I don't care, the next day I'm neurotically scrubbing the grout kind of way. Speaking of which, it's housecleaning day and I'm currently using this comment to stall. There's some nice symmetry in that!

K. said...

Or maybe that's irony.

piscesgrrl said...

You're cracking me up over here. I suppose that's where I've landed too - and you're right, it's not balance. It's more like.. manic swinging. I don't know about you, but there's a direct correlation between the cleanliness of my house and my hormone levels.

And as for setting myself up... you know my 3 boys all too well me thinks. But for now, I can dream big, right?

Anonymous said...

I can finally sleep peacefully knowing that I didn't warp you after all!!! :-)
Love you

Stephanie said...

Oh I know that one well - that manic swinging!
That's exactly what it is for me.
Fun with the babes,and can let it go, then all of a sudden here comes trouble.
Watch out!

Stephanie said...

I am cracking up here a girl after my own heart, I too want a house that doesn't look lived in, I have blogged about it, LOL!

BUT.... I have really let go lately and embraced the playing and the projects and the toys and the imagination. It's funny because I cleaned today and my dh walked in and said *what happened to the house* it's clean, LOL!
I like you have decided that there is more to life then me picking up everything everyday and I do not want my kids spending their childhood cleaning. So life is messy we clean it up when we feel so inclined. Have a great trip.
From The other Stephanie :)

Silvia said...

We're in the "these people have given up" camp. :)

whimsigal said...

Geez, is there something in the air? I've been trying to get my house in order, too except I'm no good at it. Stephanie's been doing it and I would swear I read this topic somewhere else too. Is it like when a group of women who work together get on the same monthly cycle? LOL

Your house looks wonderful! Even when mine is in a state that I will call clean, it won't look like that.


piscesgrrl said...

Well, I think it says something that this post has so many comments! Not only is it that time of year, I guess, but it's one of those hot button issues for most of us. We struggle to let it go, but once in a while we have to go a little postal on the clutter and dust. It feels good, just so long as I don't take it out on anyone in the meantime!

Hope to post again soon - in major recovery mode here after a visit to the ER. *sigh* Stay tuned.

piscesgrrl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roxanne said...

Wow! You have such a lovely home!!