Yeah, so I’m pretty laid back in 90% of life. I’ve been told I have the personality of a man. And I’m quite ok with that. I have the ability to turn my brain off and literally think about nothing. NOTHING. I only have about 1 nerve and 1 feeling (maybe…). There is hardly a time where I can say I get my feelings hurt. I’m not sure if it’s cause I’m not listening completely or if it’s because I just truly don’t care. Either way, it makes for not a lot of stress in my life, thankfully.
However… (that word, kills me) there is one thing that can really annoy the shit outta me. Well, OK, it’s likely more than 1 but it all falls under the same broad category. Perfectionism, or OCD.
I remember about 16-18 years ago being the mom of 2 toddlers and doing nothing but cleaning, cooking, playing and wiping tiny asses. The highlights of my day were things like getting the mail, crossing the days off the calendar (just to prove I survived them & so did everyone else), dinner at my parents (where someone else would take over the majority of the above-said duties) and grocery shopping alone. I was exhausted. And I had little adult interaction throughout the day.
Two events stick out in my mind that make me quite certain that this perfectionism and ‘doing it myself so it gets done right’ trait was not acquired later in life. I’ve had it all along it just seems to have ‘grown’.
Event number 1:
We had some family friends over for dinner. The house was clean, I cooked, or bought pizza, not really sure (likely the later as I’m not much of a cook). We were having a good time, chatting, watching Trading Spaces (remember that show? I hear it’s coming back!) the kids were playing and not screaming. At some point in the evening I went into the kitchen to start on dishes and when I glanced over I noticed my calendar had ALL the days for the current month crossed off in SHARPIE!! I knew for a fact that I didn’t do it, and husband wouldn’t dare touch my calendar. I don’t remember a TON after that but I’m told that I flipped a freaking nut and laid into the guy who did it who was sitting on my couch laughing.
‘WHAT THE FUCK?’ I screamed. ‘Do you NOT understand that crossing those days off one by one, every single day before I get into bed is like an award for everyone in my house continuing on for another day?!’
Needless to say, he couldn’t care less. But… I cared and I bought a whole new calendar to fix it.
Whoa, you flipped over a calendar? I hear you asking. Yes, yes I did. And if you’ve ever had toddlers 15 months apart, you’ll understand completely.
Event number 2:
It was midday, actually probably the same year as the event above. Another of my husband’s friends who spent quite a lot of time at our house in the evenings stopped by mid-day to hang out and wait for the husband to get home. No big deal, this guy is basically a brother-in-law to me so it wasn’t surprising he came by. What WAS surprising was the time he stopped by. Moments before the after lunch naptime. The kids’ nap, not mine.
Now I normally spent their naptime (which with the kids being only 1 and a half and 2 and a half, rarely led to them actually sleeping but, more of me barricading them in their rooms so mommy could regain her sanity and be able to mark that day off the calendar at bedtime) cleaning the mess made early that morning. So, when I answered the door expecting the mailman, UPS or anyone else, I was shocked to see who it was at that particular moment in time. The house was TRASHED. If you have or have had toddlers then you know what I mean. Graham crackers smashed into every visible part of the carpet, banana peels are strewn across the couch, sippy cups leaking on the tables and toys… sweet Jesus the toys, everywhere. I hadn’t had a shower yet and the kids were only wearing diapers (because I learned early in toddlerhood that if I don’t have to wash 5 sets of clothes a day and we’re only staying home, why get them dressed? They’ll just strip them off at some point anyways.)
As the said guest walked in he started laughing and said ‘Wow… so you are human.’ hinting at the fact that every other time he was there the house was spotless, the kids were dressed (mostly) and I didn’t look like I’d just done 5 back to back 24 hours shifts.
This same visitor once (at the husband’s request) moved a few decorative items out of their place by inches while I was out on my weekly alone time (aka – grocery shopping). As I walked in from getting groceries I immediately noticed and yelled ‘FIX IT you heathens & leave my shit alone!’ Laughter erupted on how quickly I noticed and he never tried it again.
That brings us to today:
While I’ll be the first to admit I’ve now lost my ability to keep track of the days even with a gazillion calendar’s in the house, I still can’t relax if things are perfect. My way, perfect. My husband gave up helping around the house years ago because the poor guy just can’t live up. I let the kids do a bit of child labor now and then but I swear, they were better at ‘helping’ when they were 7 as opposed the teenagers/young adults they are now. I can clean the entire house in just a few hours, spotless and up to my standards, whereas it would take the kids days and a lot of yelling encouragement that would likely even have the neighbors cleaning.
Sometimes, I wish I could ease up but I just can’t. I can’t get past things being left out, laundry being dropped literally an inch outside the basket onto the floor, dishes set on the corner of the counter closest to the doorway as opposed to 2 feet to the left into the sink, dishes of food put into the sink without the disposal, the curtains laying awkwardly, a lamp not positioned perfectly, the coffee table tray being uncentered, the list goes on and on. If I felt right about shaving all these damn animals to prevent the constant hair I vacuum, you’d be seeing some very weird pictures on Instagram.
But, that’s my story. So if you ever see a social media post saying I’m cleaning. Don’t picture Alice from The Brady Bunch. Picture a foul-mouthed, sweating, irritated Cinderella who won’t be happy until everything is exactly in its place. Then picture the screaming when someone messes it up 5 minutes later. Ah… hey, my kids will have stories to tell for sure.
What’s your worst trait? One you wish you could fix but for some reason just can’t?