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!}


Dean and Cindy Hatch said...

Good "just sayin". Interesting story? And I think this was not only done by you but by Michelle and Lisa. What happened to David and James we'll never know. But I was sitting reading or doing whatever when you came up to me and said, "Will you make David and James clean up their room?" "Why, is it messy?" "Yes." Since you were doing something away from their room I wondered how you knew so I asked, "How do you know." Up to that point your voice was very confident but when I asked how you knew, you became very sheepish since you really didn't know how you knew. But after a little hemming and hawing you said, "I JUST DO!" and then you ran off. When I went to check their room, of course it was a mess. Spencer was just a page out of your book. You were very sensitive to those feelings. I am a firm believer in what you said about kids needing structure (not iron clad but I don't think you meant that) and a home that is clean and organized. Remember the saying on the fridge? "Cleanliness, neatness, and order don't necessarily make happiness but happiness is almost impossible amidst dirt, disorder, and confusion."

Added note, being a clean person is ten times easier (meaning less time and effort spent doing the job) than being a cleaning person.
Plus, knowing there is a mess (more work) that needs to be cleaned up just weighs and weighs on you. Being a clean person really does lightens the load.

Another added note. The struggle will always be there so don't get muffed over your lapses. Just keep at it. Not sure you guys realize this but mom is the same as you. Her natural tendency is to be messy. She has to REALLY work at it. I have to work at it in the sense that I hate to clean. My only saving grace is that a mess is a MAJOR "disturbance in the force" for me. For me, neat and clean = peace.

Can you handle another added note? It bugs me sometimes when I have someone from church tell me "You're wife is so organized!" It isn't what they say that bugs me but what they mean. They are really saying "Your wife just falls out of bed in the morning and she's organized." They also mean "I could never be that organized." But what they don't or refuse to see is that she will get tired of a mess and then try to organize it. If that doesn't work she will organize it again. If that doesn't work she will organize it again and again until it works. She does have a little "Monk" in here but that is beside the point. We all have a little of that in us. That is why messes bother us whether we think about it or not. But good blog!!

Christine said...

Methinks you pulled your Dad's chain or pushed his buttons or some such. I had never heard of the Fly Lady. Interesting site she has. I don't remember your Mom as being overly neat when we were kids so she must have learned it after she left home.

Dean and Cindy Hatch said...

Nope, I learned it after Chris left home! Cindy

Christine said...

Wish Mom had taught me too!

Batistas said...

That's why my kids are soo crazy!! LOL I just organized my garage on Saturday...pure happiness! I would love to say that I will be as clean and oraganized as you one day, but I don't think it is in me...maybe my husband will push me to it...I will keep trying!!! Really I'm not that bad.

Lhone said...

Ironically, my house is messier than it has ever been. With others living in my house, there really isn't much of ANYTHING in the right place. All the dishes were put away in different places, the toys in different places, the house has exploded with confusion. I think Brandon is the same way as spencer, gets depressed in a mess, but doesn't think to clean it up to feel better. I am that way, if my house is a mess, I don't want to do anything that day. That's why I'm blogging.

BlaineUSA said...

Guilt overwhelms me too much to make a real comment on this blog. . . . But I gotta say, your mention of the 'bangs to heaven' brings me back. I can't tell you how cool I think it would be if you and all the other women who lived through them the first time would bring them back early! I figure they're probably due back in high schools in what? 3 years?. . . I say do them now!!! Be a trend SETTER!!!

p.s. Hey. . .did you get my email about doing our writing thing this Tuesday? are you in? This afternoon I'll be sending info. on the web conf. and web site we'll be using.

Also, Cindy--since I know you're reading this. . . are you in for this Tuesday? or were you able to get your RS mtg. changed?

p.s.s. Thanks for letting me use your Just Sayin forum to track down our writing peeps. ;) --i.e. sorry for the intrusion.