If you came to my house and took a gander at the crumby kitchen floor and smelly bathroom, you might not realize I struggle with a need for order and clean bordering on full-blown Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But if you looked deep within my eyes, you would see the gleam of chronic panic and anxiety resulting from living amongst complete and utter chaos 24/7.
I try to hide it.
I even try to pretend like, hey, man, it’s all good! I love having every single one of my children’s legos strewn about the place. It is just so freaking joyful!
I want to be peaceful and reconciled to life as a working mom with two kids and a husband, all of whom do not feel my compulsion for CLEAN. I do NOT want to be “that” mom who rants about the messy house on her Facebook or blog.
I’m fighting a losing battle.
In my work as a clinical social worker, I see situations the likes of which Stephen King could only dream. Children living among pestilence and poverty, drugs, and violence. Parents who were so abused and damaged themselves their ability to foster healthy attachment has been severely compromised. Granted, I don’t have to live there, but working with this population takes its toll on my self-esteem and competence when I feel so helpless and hopeless.
This is why, at the end of the day, I want to come home to a place where it smells nice, where there is order, where I have a smidgin of control over chaos. Is that so wrong?
I mentioned the other day to a few colleagues I only vacuum once a week. One of them looked at me, horrified, and said, “Wow! I clean my floors at least three times a week.”
Um. Are you serious? I think I might literally go postal-batshit-super-wicked-insane if I attempted to clean my floors three times per week, because in my reality, they are dirty again four minutes later and this is a mind-fuck I barely tolerate.
I read the above words and think, Suck it up dude. You’re a mom. This is life. They are not fucking with your head; they are being children. But what about my husband and his need to NEVER throw anything out EVER?
I wish I didn’t care. I wish I didn’t have such a hard time going with the flow of never-ending sippy cups, McDonald’s prizes, and birthday party favors.
I don’t know the answer. I’ve tried cute baskets but they end up stacked in a pile next to upended toys, or overflowing with the flotsam and jetsam of early childhood. Either way, not very organized-looking. We’ve taught my son to use both the vacuum and Swiffer mop. He actually likes both of these chores, but the problem is we have accumulated way too much crap in this tiny house to effectively clean. I’m beginning to feel like I live with a bunch of crazy hoarders, but my husband says that’s just my own crazy anxiety talkin’.
Today I burnt my nostrils cleaning the toilet with bleach. I am speaking literally. Every time I have inhaled for the past couple hours there is a ashy, burning sensation followed by the scent of bleach which somehow has been imprinted in my nasal passages.
I feel frustrated, lonely, and misunderstood in my need for order. I feel broken by a compulsion I can’t break for fighting a battle I can’t win.
If I am super-self-accepting, I can say my need for clean is one of my quirks, and maybe someday my children will have impeccable organization skills. Maybe they will also come to appreciate the fact I can find any lost item in 19 seconds flat. I imagine, by then, they will be much bigger and the days of strewn blocks and stuffed buddies will be long behind us.