Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I've come a long way, baby.

Our bedroom all dressed for winter.
As a child, I don't think I ever made my bed. Not even once. Not even for company.

So it's a bit of a miracle that I have reached the point in my life, at age 48, that I am now making my bed every single day. Once I finished work in June, I figured I had no excuse for leaving my bed looking like a swamp all day, every day, so I made a resolution to keep it tidy, and - astounding to me - I've actually kept that resolution.

I also resolved to - gasp! - put away my clothes each day! I've been a little spotty on that one, but for the most part, I've been good.

And it's a big deal to me.

I grew up in a home where stuff just didn't get tidied, never mind cleaned. I am second-youngest of seven children and I really think my mom just gave up. There was just too much detritus to keep up with, and my mother was additionally saddled with chronic depression. Entropy reigned.

Our living room (we didn't have a family room or rec room) was bedecked with jackets, shoes, books, magazines, homework, projects, crafts ... there was a path through the midst of this mess. The kitchen, although it was kept sanitary as my mom did a lot of cooking, had almost as many "junk" drawers as utensil drawers. Over the years, my parents kept adding storage to hold more junk - two china cabinets, a hutch, pull-out drawers in the cabinets, pockets on the armchairs, a dry sink, a buffet ...

One day when I was in elementary school, a neighbour was visiting and my mother brought her upstairs to see the small bedroom I shared with my sister. The clothes, towels, and toys dropped on the floor were at least 6 inches deep. Blankets were a tangled mess on the beds. Most of the hangers in the closet were naked as the clothes that belonged on them were mounded beneath. A damp towel had rotted a small knothole in the hardwood floor.

"You should be ashamed!" the neighbour scolded us. She told us that we shouldn't expect our mother to clean up this mess.

I was ashamed, at that moment. But I was also puzzled. I never realized that cleaning my room was expected of me.

It was as if my room had been unveiled to me. And, darned if it didn't look dreadful.

Still, habits are hard to change, especially without any reinforcement. Plus, I was a typical lazy kid. Occasionally, I would get up in the middle of the night and go on a frenzy of cleaning, hanging up clothes, folding things and putting them away, tossing dirty linens down the laundry chute. (Yes, we had a laundry chute - a wonderful invention. I'd love to have one here!)

But mostly, I remained a slob.

By the time Stephen met me, I didn't even bother with a dresser; all my clothes were kept in large, open baskets. Even at that, most of my clothes ended up in piles on the floor. About once a month it would get under my skin and I would tidy up. Usually when I ran out of underwear and had to do laundry.

Steve, meanwhile, had grown up in a family where such slovenliness was just. Not. On. Then he attended military college, where not only were shirts hung on hangers, they were hung all facing the same direction, and a specified distance apart. Beds were not only made, but they were made with exemplary crispness.

When we got together, it was like a real-life Odd Couple. My side of the bedroom was piled with crap; Steve's was spotless. The bed mostly remained unmade as I always got up after him. Astonishingly, Steve never complained about the disarray on my side of the room, so long as it stayed on my side.

But a miracle began to happen. As I created our nest, "decorating" a home, I took pride in it and started to keep it clean. The domestic goddess in me (I am a Cancer) began to blossom.

I also had Steve as a real partner in keeping the place tidy. (He's more about keeping things put away; I'm more about keeping things clean. It's a good, complementary system.) I also made it a priority to invest in storage solutions so that everything had a place where it belonged.

But the bedroom has always been my weak point, until now. Here's hoping I can keep it up.

[P.S. Lest you think I've "got it all together," I have yet to tame the paper monster that is the coffee table by My Chair in the living room. That is a challenge for another day!]

1 comment:

  1. I *have* noticed how tidy the room is, and that the bed has been made. Though I didn't say thanks. Well, thank-you!
    As well I'd like to point out that your yin has helped my yang relax a bit. I don't fold my socks nearly as precisely any more!
    love, Steve


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