Friday, May 6, 2011

Order is a Virtue . . Right?

So, I'm debating whether I should write this post. I don't want to offend any friends. I don't want to make any of them feel guilty or reluctant to invite me over. I don't want to imply some righteous behavior or attitude in me that doesn't exist. I don't want to be inaccurate in my portrayal of myself and hear about it from loved ones later.

But I write about what's on my mind, and right now, housekeeping is on my mind.

A blogger friend wrote today about how she struggles with keeping her house in order. And how she basically has given up -- decided she's gifted in many other areas but not this one, and hired a housekeeper. For a short time in NJ, right after we started homeschooling, we had a cleaning service come in once a month. I stopped the service because 1) I was still having to spend lots of time picking up the house before they came so they could clean under the junk, 2) within an hour after they left, the house was cluttered again and my husband would come home and say, "I thought the cleaners came today!!", which annoyed me, and 3) I finally decided this was stupid -- I and my two daughters are all home all day, and we should be able to keep the house in order.

My mother was the ultimate homemaker. Her sister said it was really all she ever wanted to do in life. I remember after mom's death, my sisters and I reflected on her home and the fact that we never saw her clean the bathrooms, but the bathrooms were never dirty. She had it all down to an art form.

I'm trying to decide if it's because of her example that I feel stressed when the house is a mess. Could be. Or it could be some underlying pressure I feel to make my husband happy (he has the same issue with a messy house, interestingly enough). Or maybe a need for a sense of order is just innate to me.

Not that I'm very successful at maintaining order in the house. Even as a kid, my mom would get on my case about never hanging up my clothes, etc. But a few times a year, the mess would reach a point where it unnerved me, and I would spend a day putting everything in place, and often reorganizing in the process. And I loved doing it! I still love doing it, when it's done on my time.

But I have had many friends over the years whose houses were, frankly, almost always a mess. Most of them had young kids -- and maybe a lot of them -- so the mess was understandable. And it never offended me or bothered me to be at their house in the mess. I actually find it soothing to be with a friend who trusts your friendship enough to not feel like they have to put on their superwoman mask for you. But I know if I lived every day like that, I would never be at peace within myself. There would always be the overwhelming urge to stop the world and get this place in order . . . and the unbearable frustration that I simply couldn't do so.

I bring this up because the condition of my daughters' rooms and bathroom can make my blood pressure rise to dangerous levels sometimes. And I'm not sure if the problem is with them, or me, or the meeting of the two extremes. I don't know if I need to buckle down and get them to live more orderly lives, or if I should accept that they, perhaps, are far more "normal" than I am.

And it seems I need to figure this out, before I make someone in this house completely neurotic.


Charissa said...

I didn't give up, lol. I just found a way to make it happen in my own life. My house is relatively clean these days and I not longer have anxiety attacks/ nervous breakdowns over the state of my home. :) I really admire people who can do it on their own. I don't know that I'd say order is a "virtue," but it's certainly a wonderful gift and talent! (One, I'll add, that I was not given.)

Anonymous said...

I have always suscribed to the adage that "if my friends are coming to see my house and not me, then they are not friends at all!" Cleanliness is not next to godliness! Life is too short!