“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Thursday, June 7, 2012

When Your Room Is In Order, Your Life Is In Order

So, when Joe was working in Pittsburgh, I think I got a little overzealous in home management. I think I overcompensated so much that now that he is back, I'm not really sure what to do with him. It seems like every room I walk into has a Joe explosion of some kind. A massive, toppling pile of mail (I've posted about this issue in the past) that no one can touch, lest the world end. A massive, toppling pile of pants. Seriously: hang them up! I would, but he says, "No, no, they're there for a reason." Okay...? The pile of shoes, which knows no bounds. What man needs so many shoes? I thought it was women who went shoe crazy? And of course Joe wears a size 13, so it's not just a pile of shoes. It's a pile of clown shoes that haunt me in my nightmares, chasing me through the house all clompy and muddy and angry.

I shouldn't be surprised that this morning I woke up with a headache. I'm a terribly disorganized person by nature, but it's really important for me to combat it. It was my mother who first noticed the way it affects my personality and mood. I was in my teens when she said, "You've been in a funk. Go clean your room." I was a teenager, so of course I ignored her. But the larger the mess in my room became, the funkier I became. I forgot my homework at school, I got snarky with my family, I couldn't find matching socks. Eventually, I had to give in. I cleaned my room. Lo and behold, I became calmer and more in control of all my other actions, just because my "home base" had been put into order. My mom noticed immediately--she's always way on top of how right she is. She nodded in satisfaction and announced, "When your room is in order, your life is in order."

This mantra has followed me through my entire life, and to my chagrin, has expanded to incorporate the many facets that make up adulthood. When I began working, the larger the pile of papers on my desk grew, the more anxious and forgetful I became. When I had my own apartment, I found myself just leaving all the time. I never wanted to be home, looking at the mountains of papers and mail and dirty dishes I'd accumulated. And I hated doing laundry and/or taking out the garbage, so I started eating at my mom's (so as not to MAKE any garbage or dirty dishes) and buying new underwear. Like, weekly. But suddenly, I felt homeless. I didn't live with my parents anymore, so I never felt settled when I was there. And I sure as heck didn't feel settled in the monstrosity that my apartment had become. So...I had to clean. Majorly.

The messes followed me into my first house with Joe, our second house, children's bedrooms and laundry. Basically, any time a new mess or new place for a mess existed, I found myself slipping back into the old funk. Avoidance, anxiety, aggravation, madness. I once had to be thrown through my kitchen window by my brother because I'd managed to lock myself out of the house. "Oh, anyone can make that mistake," you say. Yes. But I made it because I was feeling scattered and a mess. When I landed in the kitchen sink, my brother calling, "Okay, then?!" up from the patio, I was in a heap of pots and pans from dinner the night before, and I knew I had to make a change.

So lately, I've been forgetting things--even whole conversations I've had with Joe or my sister--and losing things and basically undoing all the fabulous order I'd created while Joe was gone. This morning, there were two empty juice boxes on the coffee table, a few stray toys, and, of course, a pile of mail. My head was hurting and I flopped down onto the couch, on top of a throw blanket that did NOT look casual and lovely. It just added to the general feeling of disarray I already had.

Noah said, "What's wrong, Mommy?"

"Mommy's house is. A. Mess," I told him. I had my arm thrown over my eyes and everything.

"How come?"

"Because Daddy has a lot of STUFF," I said. "And you know what?"


"Grandma Judy always told me, 'if your room is in order, your life is in order.' And our house in NOT in order! I'm going to have to do something about this. When things are a mess, Mommy just feels crazy."

Noah was quiet for a long moment. Then he said, "Well this ISN'T Grandma's house. This is a Bielecki house, and she can't make us clean anything! So just relax, Mom. The mess is okay."

Oh, little man. I so admire the black and white of your world. I'm also jealous that you have a mommy who cleans up after you so you think cleaning is just...optional.

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