A very wise woman, lets call her …. Dina….., once told me, “Life isn’t tidy.” She’s right. At least in my case. And , alright… in the case of my house. Now, at the time, she wasn’t talking about housework, per se, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
I do have a room in my house that is tidy. It moves around a lot. Sometimes it is the living room (with the exception of that one spot behind the sofa, where son #3 stashes his dirty sock, his homework from last week, his bowl of cucumber salad, and my daughters latest stuffed unicorn for blackmail purposes. This goes without saying).
Sometimes, my bedroom is the tidy spot. This happens when i proclaim that my room is “my space”, and all kids and/or husband has got 10 seconds to get their blankets, shoes, homework/work laptop, and swords out of it RIGHT NOW, or someone’s going to get whipped with a wet noodle.
And on rainy days when i get in a mood, the tidy spot could just be the kitchen, although i know that as soon as i clean it sons #1 and #2, along with the friends they have chosen for the day, will promptly walk through the front door, drop their backpacks/shoes/blades and/or boards, and raid my fridge of anything remotely resembling sandwich material.
What’s the point of cleaning it then? So it can be tidy for the minute and a half before the kids come home. Silly. You know, the calm before the storm? Sometimes the journey of getting the room tidy is satisfying enough, knowing it will be a memory before long.
And that is a good point that i missed, until Dina was kind enough to talk with me about it.
Although life isn’t tidy, striving for tidiness can be fulfilling. AS LONG AS we realize that we are fooling ourselves, JUST a smidge. Playing a practical joke on ourselves, really. We know we can’t always be tidy, but tidying up a bit makes us FEEL like we are closer to the end result. And if we have 1 part of life that is tidy, well then that is the part we will show to the public, right?
Now, I come from an environment where perfecting ones self is just part of the package. It’s what we do, it’s who we are, it’s how we roll. So perpetual guilt about falling short of that perfection is also part of the package. And so is tidiness. Or striving for tidiness. How freeing, then, for the notion that life isn’t tidy can come into play. “WHAT?” i thought, sitting on the other end of the sofa as Dina dropped the bomb. ” I have assumed that life WAS tidy, and i was the one dropping the ball!” WHEW!!!!
Did it occur to me that in an environment where we seemed to run around sweeping up after ourselves and others, that all these people occasionally dropped the ball? Nope. Not once. I assumed i was odd to not want to keep tidying up all the time. With plates of cookies for the downtrodden, and good-natured snooping on the police scanner,( just to see who’s house the ambulance was going to, in order to keep them in our prayers, of course), the tidying up of self and others went on and i assumed the look of tidiness was real.
What a fantastic release to know that i could live next door to a freak, just like me, with a corner of the living room that has a hidden mess. Maybe they have a fridge that also has sticky chocolate syrup on the 3rd shelf, still not cleaned up after 2 weeks. ORRRR….. they might even have some lint behind the door of the downstairs bathroom. Gulp. Think of the possibilities!!!!!
Well, its just a logical leap to think that the guy across the street may have a dark side too. Does it mean i will stop asking him for a cup of sugar? NOPE. After all, at some point i would have to supply my OWN sugar if i did that. Silly. I don’t care if he brushed his teeth before bed last night. And do i keep myself awake at night about whether there is an oil spot on his driveway? um, no. I just think it’s fascinating that it took me a while to realize that no one is caring whether my shed that has garden supplies in it is organized or not.
Life is not tidy. People get sick. Good people die. straight-laced people mess up, and convicted criminals have a change of heart. We all are addicts of one kind or another, socially acceptable or not, and sometimes we gossip and call it venting. We all have lint, drips in the fridge, and one corner of our life that has hidden crap. I'll still be calling up to go have ladies night out or borrow that cup of sugar. Why? because it's what we do, it's who we are, it's how we roll. Thanks, Dina.