I’ve recently learned I come from a long line of neurotics. This revelation wasn’t entirely earth shattering, as I always thought something was slightly amiss given the pristine (borderline hospital grade) cleanliness with which my mom kept our house growing up, and the attention to detail she paid when preparing to host a gathering, of ANY size. I didn’t realize this was an inherited gene, until I started seeing the early onset of symptoms shortly after we purchased our own house. I liken this genetic disorder to something close to Alzheimer’s, no not nearly as unfortunate, however as I’ve watched my own symptoms progress I realize they gain momentum with time, it can skip a generation, and as it spreads, its effects are quite debilitating. After following the symptoms back to the source I thought they had originated from, I come to learn my mom traced her roots back to her great grandmother as well… genetic… and pretty sure the clinical world would label OCD.
Don’t get me wrong, my house is NOWHERE near as clean as my mom’s, nor do I, at this point in my self diagnosed disorder, ever aspire to keep it as clean as she does (god bless ya’ mom, but it has to be exhausting!). I’m banking on the fact that if acknowledging the disorder is half the battle for alcoholics, why can’t that same theory apply to me as well. The little conscience ‘shoulder devil’ replies to that statement with, “its only cleaning and good preparation, what’s so wrong with keeping a clean house and throwing a great party”… Damn. Hard argument to fight back against. However, after my most recent little whirling dervish cleaning frenzy, a few co-workers gave me the high eyebrows, tossed in the ‘what would your husband say’, and commented that my ‘condition’ wasn’t conducive to those activities…. When I told them I was standing on a folding chair (now 7 months pregnant) re-screwing a window treatment into the wall on my lunch break so the nursery would ‘look pretty’ when visitors came over after work today. Hindsight being 20/20, the folding chair might have been where I lost them… ya’ think ;)… And true to form, when explaining the adventure to Kevin on the phone shortly after, it came with the ‘Jules….’ and dreaded long pause.
Looking back I clearly see why I HAD to do it on my lunch break… because if Kevin had been home, he would have been wholly opposed to my efforts, however being as busy as he is would have made a comment similar to “Jules, it doesn’t matter, they won’t even notice”. WHAT?!? Doesn’t matter?!? But it MAKES the room, how could someone NOT notice something missing, that CLEARLY makes the room!!! It was this thought, and the tenor in which I had it, that tipped me off…. Maybe there’s a little more neurosis, and a little less logic. I understand how some of you may have missed it, considering it sounds SO logical when written in black and white 😉
So what’s the line to walk? I’m not holding my breath, given the accolades our society heap onto the ‘women that do it all’, that I’ll be finding my own 12 step recovery program at the local elementary school or church…. And no offense to those benefiting from guidance of ‘trained professionals’, but thinking about paying someone to sit in a chair and ask me “Why I think the room has to be perfect”, sounds about as appealing as Chinese water torture. So, for now, I continue making the deal with my ‘little devil’… not wholly convinced that my neurosis is necessarily a BAD thing, but slightly more aware that there ARE occasions or ‘conditions’ I should give a higher precedent to than the perfection I seek in a room or setting.
And the little devil dances, singing ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’…. Sure, toss THAT one in my face!
Julie, this WAS ME about 5 years ago until I finally conceded to the fact that “a clean house is a life wasted!” Actually, I too have a “little devil” on my shoulder saying that everything needs to be presentable and clean, but after a while – example, two boys in my own home – I’ve learned to relax and step off from my own OCD tendencies. I think this is totally normal behavior for a new mom though. We take pride in our homes, after all – this is where life happens – this is where we hang our hats and where we welcome guests. Don’t worry sweetie – just pray for balance, girl! The whole curtain issue – I’ve been there! Obsessing over the little things will probably just be a phase you’re going through – or not. 🙂