Monday, September 28, 2009

A Conversation with Melissa

Have you ever noticed that most of my conversations with Melissa seem to be really thought provoking? Who would have thought that you learn more from your children than the other way around. Seems kind of backwards, but I guess that's how it's supposed to work. Or at least how it does in our house.

Melissa and I were discussing her "Personal Narrative" that she is supposed to be doing as a writing assignment in her class. She is a little frustrated because as she put it, "If I do it the way my teacher wants it done, then it just won't be me..."

{Insert pertenent information necessary to the story: Two weeks ago, she wrote a poem entitled "I Am" which if she gives me permission, at some point I will post the whole thing, but for now, I will tell you one line of it. She wrote, "I try to please everyone."}

It reminded me of a time in High School. I had this English teacher that simply put did not EVER share my point of view. If I wrote a paper on some subject using my own thoughts and ideas, she would return the paper chuck full of red ink, with a big "Re-write" on the top. The comments throughout the paper would say things like, "You didn't support this idea enough." or "What about {insert contradictory idea}?" She would thoroughly pick apart the paper because she didn't agree with it. So one time I went in to her class during lunch, and she told me all of her ideas of how my paper should be, what should be said, and I went home and rewrote it, and got an A. So, I learned my lesson. Each time she gave us a subject for our next paper, we would have a little discussion about it. I took very careful notes on what EXACTLY her position was on the subject and wrote a paper based off of that. Got an A everytime.

I am a people pleaser, just like Melissa.

What is sad about being a people pleaser, is I think that each time you cater to someone else in order to please them, I think you lose a little bit of yourself. I think you become what everyone else wants you to become instead of what you yourself wants. I think I am that way, but I don't want that for Melissa. I want her to be able to be her own person, and not cater to so many other people that she doesn't ever decide what SHE wants, or stand up for what SHE believes.

I know, shame on my teacher or any other teacher for that matter who isn't open to all thoughts and ideas. And accepting of ANY paper that is turned in as long as it is well written and done under the proper guidelines. And shame on the rest of us who aren't as open and accepting of others in their own thoughts and ideas. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My form of AA...

Sometimes I get a bad wrap for having a clean house ALL THE TIME. I go to other people's houses and you know what, there houses are clean too. I think just because my house doesn't have a lot of decor people mistake that for being overly clean. However, I have a confession to make. Deep down, I really am a messy person. BIG TIME. Ask my parents, or my sister Michelle who had to share a room with me until my parents took pity on her and let her have her own room.

Growing up we had rules about keeping the house clean. "Everything has a place and everything in its place" was my parents motto. That one didn't work so well. My parents even tried the rule where I would get my curling iron taken away for a day if I left it out. I just wouldn't shower the next day so that they were still somewhat curled and just used A LOT of hairspray to achieve my "Bangs to Heaven" look. I even remember dreaming once that I had cleaned my ENTIRE room and was so shocked when I woke up the next morning and realized that it was still dirty. I used to even get grounded from watching TV if my room was a mess.

Then when Steve and I got married... You know how you would hang out with your married friends and they would all talk about how their husbands would leave their clothes all around the hamper, but not in it. Yeah, Steve's comment, "I wish she (meaning me) would even care to get it THAT close." Because, yeah, I'll admit, I didn't so much. And yes, I know how to clean, I know how to organize, my parents taught me well. I just didn't care to do it so much.

So what happened? How did I get from there to where I'm at today. {I am a pretty clean person} I'll tell you what happened, Spencer happened. Spencer went through a time in his life, where he seriously freaked out. All. The. Time. And not just freaked out, FREAKED OUT! As in scream and cry unconsolably if I wasn't around. It was like he didn't feel safe in his own home, if I wasn't around. And no, Steve wasn't good enough for Spencer. I couldn't even leave him with his own Dad. He needed to always know where I was.

Then one day, I noticed he was actually doing OK. And I said to him, "Spencer, you are doing really good today." And he said, "Yeah, Mom, the house is clean." Tell me that just doesn't make you want to cry. I did. So, at that moment, I realized that cleanliness, orderlyness, and routine, mattered for Spencer's well being. His "spiritual" well being. And so I changed.

When we were in our last house, a friend of mine introduced me to "The Fly Lady." She has a way of cleaning and organizing your house, that is only a little work everyday. Her philosophy wasn't that different from my parents growing up. Everything has a place and everything in its place. And I did her little program the last little while of living in our last house. Then we had to move in with Steve's parents because our house sold quickly(within a week of listing it, and they wanted us out by the end of the following week). We hurridly packed up and moved all our stuff to a storage unit and went to Steve's parent's basement. There wasn't anywhere to put our stuff, the basement was flooding every time it rained, carpet was being pulled up, the family room furniture was all shoved to the other side of the room. And even the room the kids were sleeping in flooded a bit and had to cram all the stuff onto one side, and that's when his problem kind of started. Then it just got worse when we moved here. I hadn't really gotten everything into any sort of an order. Not until we were having some friends over to see our new house and it kind of forced us to get things in more of an order. That's when Spencer made his revelation.

It was a pretty hard blow to my ego. I always fancied myself as a "clean person". But I wasn't. I knew how to clean, and I did it when I had to {read: when company was coming over}, but really, I am a messy person. That was the first step, admitting I had a problem. And then every day, making a conscious effort to change. And it is something that I work hard at, all the time. My tendency to to be messy. {Just look at my counter in the bathroom when I am done getting ready in the morning. Stuff everywhere. Not like my husband where the counter is perfectly cleared before, during and after he's done getting ready.} And everyday I try to overcome that tendency. And just like anyone else trying to change any behavior, sometimes I slip a little bit. {Like right now, my house is a bit messy}.

So, when someone comes into my house and makes a comment like, "Your house is so clean!" with the undertone of it being something disgusting. Yeah, my feelings get a little hurt. Or if my house tends to be messy, when someone sees it and says, "I can't believe your house is a mess!" As if I have just done something horribly wrong, yeah that stings a little too. I do slip every once in a while. But I won't slip for long because I notice a change in my kids' behavior when the house is a mess. It's kind of a crazy thing. They aren't as happy when the house is a mess. Same thing goes for routine. They are happier with a schedule. Life goes better when things are in order.

So, here you have it, "Hi, my name is Andrea and I am a messy person..." I'm just sayin'. {Now I think I'll go clean the kitchen... gotta jump back on the bandwagon so to speak!}