Saturday, February 27, 2010

cleaning and fixing - just weird?

it seems like time for me to redirect my energy.

i think i've justified my interest in decorating and house projects as being a nice break from constantly thinking about the more constant pressures of raising children, and the somewhat redundant tasks of maintaining a house and family. fooding it up, wiping down, scrub, vacuum, polish. calming tempers, carefully observing rashes. the constant battle with entropy. sure, it's not a battle you can win, but i feel responsible to try as hard as i can.

at least, i've always thought it is important to be as clean and organized as i can be. of course these ideas all come from how you are raised. my mother was a very, VERY (obsessively) clean and organized person. and even though it might not have been the healthiest approach for her, it did always give me a feeling of security to live in a home that always felt fresh, smelled clean, my clothes were clean, there was no clutter to trip over. (clutter is a tough one, though, because i think children do like to create clutter while they play, and if someone is constantly picking up your playthings, well, i think this can limit creativity. clutter is a separate subject, though. but briefly, i do sometimes wonder if it made it less fun to play knowing that my mom was dying to return everything to its appropriate space... i for sure allow a LOT of play clutter, and i allow huge messes, especially when stella is into a "project", i don't want to interrupt by trying to control the chaos.)

but back to my point - i felt that the cleanliness of my childhood home gave me a sense of order, calm, and security. interestingly, i don't think my siblings felt the same way about it. but i personally am thankful to my mom for being a great homemaker. i suppose some of that comes down to our "nature" and whether we feel calmer in cleanliness or just restricted.

hmm, i know this is a lot of detail. it may even seem overly analytical. but when you come from an over-the-top clean home, these things seem important. and when your job is taking care of a home and it's occupants (and most adults consider this to be at least one of their jobs) it seems like a worthwhile topic to reflect upon.

i wonder what it would be like to be a person who was just sloppy and never questioned whether this was "okay" or not. and of course there is that weird "cleanliness is next to godliness" issue, as well as "idle hands are the devil's, um, playthings? puppets?" you get the idea. i often think it would be really freeing to not care at all about mess.

industriousness and hard work - things that i was raised to believe are SO very important, so important that they contribute or detract from your overall Goodness. Is this a common struggle that people have? or only people who, like i've described in my situation, came from a perfectionistic home? or is it an American obsession? puritanical? and, related to the cleanliness obsession - how about our society's current obsession with germs and hand sanitizer? seems a little creepy at times... i am always seeing moms slathering their kids in bottles of that stuff. im not saying that i never use it but - doesn't it seem a bit extreme to anyone else? the super strong cleansers we use to clean our homes - similar issue, isint it?

well, at any rate, i think most people are affected by this cleanliness ethos. probably just subconsciously. it is interesting to watch my inlaws reacting to a spill on a piece of furniture. they go into complete panic mode. their tempers flare, they are rushing around like a fire is about to reduce their home to ashes. the spiller is bound to feel about the size of a crumb, too, by the way. and they seem to be operating the dark about the WHY of their perfectionism - it's just, well, how it IS!

going off on a tangent here, in a way... what i was originally thinking about was less about cleanliness and housework and more about how we feel about our houses, and the drive to improve them (or the lack thereof). it seems to me a pretty basic almost primal instinct to want to "feather the nest" - picturing: cavepeople fighting over cheetah skins. i enjoy nest feathers. not so much cheetah skins. i think most people do enjoy sprucing their homes, to differing degrees. and of course most improvements need cash, so it is a luxury to an extent. but we obtain such a sense of security from the feathering. and i guess, what i've been trying to remind myself, lately...all the feathering in the world does not keep a family safe, or together, or happy. thinking of buddhist principle that desire is the source of all suffering, because it is feeding into this illusion that things we desire will bring us happiness, etc...

i always believe in the middle way. i know the answer, or at least the safest bet, lies somewhere there in the middle. caring, but not making it a priority. checking in often to ask: what is my motivation? am i focusing so much on the external as a way of ignoring the deeper and more difficult questions? being aware of excessive materialism. i know i would never surrender completely to the entropy, give up on keeping the children reasonably clean, keeping the toys tidy enough that they are promoting creative play rather than hindering it. and though my children very rarely put vegetables in their gullets, i will continue to try to offer them with, um, moderate frequency (hey, ya can only look at SO much food being wasted, right?) and im never probably going to stop being bothered by the cracking paint outside my house, or the bedframe that i would love to replace that causes huge thigh bruises if you work to close to it.....

ah well, an inexhaustible subject in my mind, but surely exhausting for everyone else. that is, for both of you who read my blog :)

1 comment:

Q said...

I have always looked for the balance...clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy!
Tidy saves me looking for it time...
So good to catch up with you this evening.
Spring is trying to come...
I am ready.