Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Does CLEAN really make us feel better?

"Mom, I need some hangers," my doughy-eyed eleven year old sighed. "My laundry is sitting on my couch getting all wrinkled." 

My response came out in the form of a chuckle. "But, two days ago the entire contents of your closet was on the floor.  Not only have the clean and the dirty been closely mingling with each other, you've been wearing wrinkly clothes for months, why does it matter now?"

"Because I've changed. Clean feels good.

It's no secret that I'm an organizer. I like things neatly arranged in their proper place... and if they don't have a "proper place" then I like to create one. Sure, things get out of order from time to time as life gets hectic, but at the core, I like ORDER. Order brings me peace. That's why being a mother is sometimes my biggest challenge.

When my children were little, I remember the anticipation of them getting old enough to take care of their own messes. I remember thinking life would be heaven if I could just make it from one end of the house to the other without tripping on little plastic toys or an assortment of baby doll paraphernalia... Well, that day has come and I'm here to tell you, MY HOUSE IS MORE CHAOTIC THAN EVER!

To an OCD mom, organization is the key to sanity! And yet, the older my children get, the more they seem to mess with my organization. Perhaps they enjoy my depleting sanity. Maybe that's why they mess with me so much. They may not scatter toys anymore, but what they do do is get into my stuff! My tool box is strewn throughout the house and so is all of my sewing stuff. Finding things in the kitchen is a daily scavenger hunt, and their bedrooms often look like a bomb went off.

So, if it bothers me so much, why do I let them get into things? Why do they take their turn emptying the dishwasher? Why do I let them use my sewing stuff? Why do they have access to my tools? And... why don't I clean their rooms?

Simply because my time to teach them is short. If they don't have access to tools, how will they know how to use them? If they aren't expected to help in the kitchen, how will they take care of their own? If they don't learn to sew, how will they know how to mend stuff?
If you don't experience some chaos how can you appreciate the calm?

As much as it kills me to ignore messy rooms, I don't see any value in cleaning them for them. I've tried that method, and believe me, it didn't work. All that was accomplished is a worn out, frustrated mother with ungrateful, expectant children. I think there is a lot more value in giving them ownership and responsibility for their own stuff. If they can't find a pair of pants... not my problem. If their favorite shirt smells like dirty socks because it got chucked on the floor instead of put away... again, not my problem.

It's been a long time coming, but to quote my newly converted eleven year old, "Clean feels good!"

I don't know how long it will last, but the fact that she asked me to help her clean out her room over the weekend is a good start. We are heading in the right direction. I don't doubt that she will turn her room into a war zone again, but I hope that she will remember the peace that came to her when it was clean.

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