Lately, I have had cause to go to what, for me, is extremes with regard to cleaning my space. Holiday weekends spent vacuuming and mopping, vacuuming mid-week, scrubbing down kitchen counters nightly…in short, things most women do without even thinking about. But for me, light years out of character for I am a cleanophobe.
This wasn’t an overnight occurrence, or something I actually consciously chose for myself, but was, in fact, a case of rebellion which never really stopped.
My mother, the Queen of Guilt, was also the Queen of Clean. Not just, make sure things are picked up, wipe everything down weekly, everything in its place, but hygenically, sterilly, obsessively clean. It was only natural for me to rebel, at least while I lived in her home, but I carried my sloppiness to extremes for years.
Certainly, as time has gone by, I have, naturally, improved, but of late, I’ve started becoming a little obsessive myself. Not to the point of turning my home into a shrine to sterility…I have a very long way to go before I’d reach that point anyway, but to the point where I pull out the vacuum whenever I start feeling sand under my feet from my furry darlings, and this would be at least twice a week now!
Sitting here, thinking about the origins of my slovenliness, and why it has hung around for so long, with minor improvements along the way, I realized that it all came down to winning my mom’s approval. As a child, I really tried to please her, while still, of course, maintaining my own individuality. This, of course, caused a great deal of internal conflict. Once I reached my teenage years, I realized that her approval was really not mine to be had. She simply didn’t know how to just accept me as I was without trying to make me into her own, extremely damaged image. Of course, I didn’t realize any of this at the time. All I knew was that there was nothing I could do to win her approval, so I took the low road and became the antithesis of her.
The easiest way to do this was to be a slob, and easier still because it meant I rarely cleaned, and then, only when I got tired of my own mess. Ironically, my marrying a tradesman instead of a college graduated professional made me MORE like her rather than less, as my father never went to college, but worked for his dad as an electrician until he eventually got his contractor’s license and went into business for himself.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been slowly getting away from the sloppiness, at least in my home. This is partially due to the fact that the only messes I have to deal with now are my own and those created by the cats. Granted, I have years of crud to go through and get rid of while scrubbing those same years’ worth of dirt out of corners I never saw fit to investigate. But the fact of the matter is, I am doing it willingly, and, in fact, realized while I was washing the dishes from the dinner my kids made tonight, and setting my kitchen to rights again, that I actually derived a certain satisfaction from putting my house in order, quite literally.
The only thing I can’t quite determine right now is why I’m suddenly so invested in putting forth the effort to make my house a real home which can welcome my friends and family to a pleasant environment? For so many years, I was quite happy to come home to my own little hovel, close the doors and leave the world outside. But now, I’m looking for ways to improve the whole thing so I can actually invite friends in and not feel embarrassed by my lack of homemaking skills.
Not that I’m unhappy about the fact that coming home and sitting in front of the TV or computer all evening no longer has any appeal, but instead, I use a little bit of each evening to clean. Yes, it’s disturbing, but not because I’m following in my mother’s footsteps but because it took me so long to get my act together.
In truth, it doesn’t really matter what brought about the change, nor that it’s going to take awhile before I get everything the way I want it. What is important is that, not only did I take the first step, but I continue to put one foot in front of the other. What matters, with everything I’m doing for myself lately, is that I’m sticking to the plan and honoring commitments I am making to the most important person in my life…me.
If I’m getting a place where I can feel even more comfortable than I ever have out of the bargain, who am I to complain? If this gets me closer to actually getting, if nothing else, my new kitchen, then I’m way ahead of the game!
Change is certainly a good thing, and what better place to start than by changing myself?
My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the positive changes which are coming with minimal effort.
2. I am grateful for my progression towards a home I will feel comfortable entertaining friends in.
3. I am grateful for examples I am receiving, though I may not recognize them as such right now.
4. I am grateful for my kids who treated me to a home cooked meal when I got home from work tonight.
5. I am grateful for the attentiveness of my cats, who seem to think I am unable to handle the simplest task unsupervised.
Love and light.