Today is the end stop to our holiday break. It feels like a rubber burning screech stop but without the whiplash. Our friends went home to Katy and then Donny left for Waco to see a game with friends. When he hugged us before he left, I felt a deep sinking feeling inside. It was like a shove from above that could have forced me into a slumped seated position. I wanted to run through the front door and take a long walk with my dog in the brisk cool air, as one of those neurotic Victorian ladies would do in response to disappointment with her full length layered skirt making a fan-tale behind her. It was instinctual to run away from the hurt of having a piece of me ripped out. I am vulnerable when one child goes missing. For the first year ever the Christmas “ta-da” in our home signified family togetherness. Last year when the college boy came home for Christmas it was to come to Africa! The years are ticking off and next it will be Jordan who joins Donny in coming home for Christmas. This time of year is beginning to take on new meaning.
I resisted the urges to run or slump, pulled up my big girl panties and buried myself in organizing the storage room. When we moved into this house I avoided this organizing job knowing it would be futile until we were packing away Christmas for another year. It took hours and hours of family effort but at the end of the day though my back ached, the room was an organizational dream. I happily managed to make space for a gift wrapping station. Christmas is tucked away, and I’m not so melancholy about missing my firstborn.
There’s something to be said for tackling a mess and restoring order and function to a space. It has always been good therapy for me. The first thought this morning when I awoke was relief because the storage room was in order. That’s almost absurd. But, I’m feeling rather inspired to tackle the garage and really dive into developing a system I will use in my office. If I can gather my things into order, there leaves some hope that the jumble in my head can make some order as well. When my home is in chaos it crowds me, smothers me, and chokes out my ability to feel calm, creative and receptive. I turn prickly, coarse and stagnant. No thanks.
I also feel that if I control my use of time and the things in my home, then I’m less likely to try to control people. I can’t think of a worse thing someone could do to me than try to control me. It feels like the ultimate disrespect to my ability to think, discern, and decide. So I would cringe it if I caught myself trying to control someone. (apart from Kira, she’s two, it’s my job to control her) I think though women by nature are a bit prone to want to be in control, (thanks a lot Eve) so why not channel those urges into controlling our time and managing our things?
I believe when there is chaos on the outside, there’s usually chaos found on the inside. I can’t tolerate disorder in either place, it shuts me down. I turn feral in chaos. I am naturally organized and I know after years of people’s reactions to my tendencies I’ve learned organization is not built in for everyone. If you are not an organized person, please don’t feel the pressure to be one. I can’t encourage that idea enough. I often wish I could function and come alive amidst a mess. I see some women carryon despite the piles and endless searches for things and I am amazed. If you would ever like to see me in a rage, it will be when I can’t find something and I have to waste time looking for it. I don’t like myself in those moments and that’s why I have a place for everything and everything goes in its place. AND everyone in the house must learn the system and use it. There’s no negotiating on this rule. “Put it away” should probably have been Kira’s first words. Next would be “label it”.
I can’t imagine it being fun to seek an item that should be “right here.” But I’ve seen some moms make it a fun game, and I feel horribly jealous of their easy going ability to come alive despite what appears to me to be complete shutdown disorder.
In our house there has to be good function and order of the things we all use because there is one of me and six of them asking , “where is…” and if I have to do everything for everyone all the time how in the world would I ever get my blog written, exercise, read, learn to ride horses, or play with Kira? So my purpose for being organized is to fit into my life some of the activities that matter to me. This way my family doesn’t see me with my angry face when something goes missing. In exchange for learning my system they get a more relaxed happy mom. I think they would agree they like me better when things are in order.
I feel the need for a disclaimer here. There’s a difference between perfectionism and being organized. I can let it go knowing it’s fairly easy to reassemble. One thing having five kids taught me is to compromise my high standard and put a cushion around the system so I don’t become a dictator. At no time would it be right for me to put having things in perfect order above listening to one of my children, or taking that twenty minutes to enjoy a book. I don’t confuse having order with perfect order. The most uptight women I have ever known hold such a high standard for perfection that they’ve wound themselves up so tight they’ve squeezed all the fun out of life. No thanks. Happy order. Yes, that’s the goal.