OCD and Parenting – The Ultimate Contradiction
I don’t remember when I was younger caring at all what my surroundings looked like. In all honesty, I was horrible at helping around the house. I shudder at the thought of how trashy my bedroom looked at my parent’s house. The floor was covered in piles of clothing. I can’t forget to mention the dresser with clothes sticking out of the drawers and make-up scattered on top. At this point, I can’t remember what other kinds of school work or assorted junk items were strung around the room.
Then, there was my mom. For whatever reason, she wasn’t all that into keeping things tidy either. Whether she gave up when I was a child, or when she married my father, who was no better than I at keeping a clean house, or possibly it was because they lived in an old, rundown farmhouse that was beyond repair, I don’t know. Or it could be that it was her personality.
Anyway, my mom didn’t appear to be much for tidiness, and my father dropped everything as he went through the house. For example, if he took off his pants when he came home, they were likely left where he was standing at the time. If he had a bag of chips, they remained on the table by his chair – open.
If I had a drive, as a young child, to keep things in order, I don’t remember it.
My First Brush with Tidiness
However, I do recall at one point my maternal grandmother complaining that I didn’t help around the house or do chores during the summer. At the time, it made me angry. On the other hand, it was about that same time that I decided to tackle straightening everything up. And, I did a great job of it. Of course, my mom couldn’t find half of her stuff, but it was there – in a nice, neat stack. Somewhere.
Orderliness quickly became an obsession. I would get ticked off if either of my parents left anything out around the house. I kept it up for the entire summer but eventually got tired of following them around cleaning up after them and went back to my old slothful habits. Funny enough, this laziness persisted when I went to visit my parents as an adult. I would leave dishes where I ate, Kleenexes where I blew my nose, and wouldn’t lift a finger to help myself.
However, ever since I had my own place and my own vehicle, I’ve kept everything extremely tidy and organized. As soon as it’s used, it’s put up. Well, if you don’t look inside my cabinets or drawers. I’ve become quiet obsesses with everything having a place and it needing to be there.
How My Kids Ruined My Organization
Let’s fast forward to when I had two male toddlers living in my home, who dragged everything out of their toybox and left it laying out. Not to mention, they loved to jump on the bed as soon as I make it, and always seem to have green or yellow snot coming out of their noses and/or a stream of spit trailing to the floor.
Then, they ate. Who knew kids dined at least five times a day? It’s more like they gorged ALL DAY LONG. And the mess. The mess was out of this world. Who knew that crackers could end up crumbled all throughout your house? They were the untidiest kids I’ve ever seen. Even at four years old, the youngest of my sons still couldn’t conquer the feat of eating with utensils. At first, it drove me crazy. I subsequently spent all my time following them around cleaning up. But it was exhausting. Now, I only spend half of my time scrubbing and wiping things down.
Eventually, I had to admit defeat and realize I was raising children and not a house, vehicle or yard. So, what, if the only time my car was clean was when I paid to have it professionally done and that only lasted until we picked the kids up from daycare and the dust and mud were right back on the seats, and the fingerprints were back on the windows. The yard? It’s only mowed once or twice a month instead of every weekend. And the house? It’s only cleaned a couple of times a day.
Semblance of Control
My OCD is enough that there are still times during the day that everything must be picked up or I will go crazy. For example, I must have everything in its place before I leave the house or go to bed. I couldn’t function without some semblance of control.
At one point, I asked the kids what my name was, and they said, “Mommy working.” It’s nice to know that as preschoolers they appreciated my work ethic.
I shudder to think of running a black light over our house and seeing what we would find. Our oldest son still drooled when he was excited until he was five, and the youngest wiped his nose across the sofa or chair when it ran. Apparently, a Kleenex is out of the question!
Then, there was the baby. She drooled everywhere. It was a constant stream. And, if you didn’t have the strength of the strong man, when you change her diaper, she has twisted out of your hands and crawled across the floor to sit. You had to hope you’d gotten everything cleaned off beforehand.
My old self would have been disgusted with me. The new me has accepted that raising kids isn’t about the cleaning. Even though there is still a fine line between what I need to feel good and what will wear me out. Poop in the bathtub, snot on the back of my husband’s chair, dirty butts on the carpet, vomit on the car seats, urine on the sofa, and a bathroom that always smells like pee are apparently things I can deal with. Who knew?
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If you want the truth, I’ll give it to you. My life is a sh*t show. Granted, my children are now five, eight, and nine, so they are beginning to become human beings that don’t make me want to staple my head to the carpet. Halleluiah!