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Tiny Steps


I have never been much of a housekeeper. Well, my mother says that I was fastidiously tidy as a small child, but I don’t remember that. What I remember is a tornado blasted bedroom with toys and clothes everywhere. I am what you call a Messy. If I don’t put something away immediately, it’s going to sit there for a long, long time. After all, what’s it bothering?

As B and I were preparing to move, he suggested that we give tidiness a try at the new place. Since B and I share the same working level of housekeeping skillsets, this is a challenge.

Some of you are really good at this. Some of you, like Grace, can work a full time job, take care of two children, cook meals from scratch every day, keep a sparkling clean home, and still have time to post semi-weekly pictures of half naked Hugh Jackman. (Where do you find all these pictures, Grace? Or does the man just never wear shirts?) Some of you, like Jamie, are SAHMs, who make cozy homes that are delightful and inviting, and still look like you could eat off the floor (or drink coffee off the sofa arm–but that’s my fault.) I live in awe of you. It’s a talent, ladies, whether you recognize that or not.

Some of you, like me, are missing that chip. Which is why I have someone coming to give me an estimate on what it would cost to have them scrub my toilets and dust my mantle. However, I am very proud to tell you that for the past two weeks, I have made both my bed, and Thor’s bed every single day. Sometimes twice, if naps were taken. I haven’t done this since…ever.

I have this inner all-or-nothing switch that makes it difficult. See, I either have to clean everything I see and not stop until I am finished, or do nothing at all because only doing it halfway makes me panic, and then I am nervous and unhappy, and start telling myself what a disappointment and waste of space I am. I could never get a handle on our house, so I really spent a lot of time in that tailspin.

As I was cooking last night, in my wee, tiny, little kitchen (five Lane-sized steps long, and two Lane-sized steps wide), cleaning as I went, and keeping things neat, I realized I was feeling very happy. Secure, even. And it hit me: I had been intimidated by the size of the kitchen in our house. Too much room to spread out in. Too much counter space for me to destroy with the detrius of my cooking. In this tiny space, I felt like Snow White. If bluebirds had come flittering in to make pie crusts, I wouldn’t have batted a lash (I might have swatted them away, though, because there’s no room for anyone else while I’m in there.)

For a second I thought, “You can’t handle big space–you don’t deserve big space.” Then I thought, “How rude! I totally deserve big space! But you don’t start a kid in calculus when he can’t even work fractions.” And that’s sort of what I did to myself. I never even learned to manage a small space, so when we moved into a sprawl, I panicked. MUST CLUTTER! MUST…ACK! WHAT DO I DO?! And when I felt overwhelmed, I gave up.

I realize 40 is very old to try to start learning this stuff, but I’m trying again. I have to. In the small space, we don’t really have a choice. We would be over our heads with three plates in the sink and two pairs of socks in the living room.

B is making his effort, too. So is Thor. We may never be Better Homes and Gardens perfect, but at least we’ll be able to have people come over without me wanting to cry.

Also, I feel very silly saying this, but the new place just seems to have a good energy. Maybe there is something to Feng Shui? Maybe there is something to the view of water and wood? Or, maybe I’m just happy. Whatever. If I can get someone else to mop and dust, I think I can manage the rest.

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Happy. That about covers it.

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