Does a messy home (or office) make you anxious and cranky, or is cleaning something you just do before company comes over?

I used to be a clean freak. I grew up in a home where my Mother truly believed the proverb, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. She was doing her utmost to get right up there, close and personal with God. I now know beyond the shadow of a doubt that she suffers from OCD. It is getting worse the older she gets too. As a teen, I would do my best to make her happy. No fun things were accomplished on Saturdays until that house was spic and span. My parents liked opera and always listened to “Texaco presents the Met” on the radio on Saturday afternoons. I still associate an aria with the smell of Comet cleanser and my hands in a toilet. Not a fan now, nope, not at all. Madame Butterfly can send me into an episode of PTSD.

I kept a pretty clean house, even as a Mom with four young children. My husband worked three to midnight and was a full-time graduate student. I would stay up after I got the kids bathed and down to sleep. I would do dishes and make sure all the toys were matched up with their proper parts and stowed in toy boxes and shelves in the family room. I really thought it was some sort of a sin to go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. Now, not so much. I will get them done, but often not until the next day.

I think part of me would like a perfect house. But with five pets, it is impossible – I would have to vacuum the dogs daily. Then they would hate me. So that is out.

I have dust rags, I have a vacuum cleaner. I just do not want to use them every single day. I even have a little Swiffer floor thingee. It grabs up all the dog and cat hair and then the animals come into the room and shed and it was nice for about a minute.

Over the years I have come to tolerate dust bunnies so large that we call them “dust buffalos”. I have learned that when you dust in this house, you will still be able to write your name on the coffee table again in three days, so I kind of have a “Who cares?” attitude. In a really clean house, that is all you do – clean house. I swear my Mom and one of my good friends must get some sort of orgasm over cleaning. I don’t – so I won’t. I would rather read a good book, make some art, cook something, have a glass of wine, watch the sun go down. Basically anything other than clean.

Having my my family come to visit does send me into a nervous tizzy and I run around cleaning as much as I can. Then my Mom still looks around and sort of wrinkles her nose before she sits down because she is going to get pet hair on her slacks no matter what.

Life is too short to waste in worthless pursuits. If somebody judges me over my rat’s nest of bills on the end of the kitchen table and the magazines stacked in the corner, then that is their problem.

 

 

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On giving birth to a new person

I was never going to have kids. I even told my husband that when we got engaged. I was certain that it was not what I wanted in life. I was wrong.

At thirty-four I had a son. In six years I had three more kids. They changed me forever and made my life better. It was not easy. I spent a total of eight years either pregnant or breastfeeding. There were a lot of dirty diapers involved and I was always tired. But I did relearn how to make mud pies and build lego houses. I relished pillow forts and blanket tents with tea parties for the stuffed animals on rainy days and trips to the zoo on sunny ones.

I learned as much from those kids as I ever did in a college classroom. I learned to see life through their eyes. To notice the wonder of wet footprints on the concrete, to see a new moon rising in the west just after sunset, to taste a freshly picked peach and let the juice run all down your arm.

I know I would not be who I am today if I had not been a mother. I am trying to figure out my next path. I now need to birth myself again. As I evolve and grow I must seek out new ways of seeing.

I  am feeling compelled to be creative again. I cannot have another life inside me anymore, all those parts are timed out. Yet I can have the same exhilaration from making art or writing a poem or a piece of prose. The time I have is not running out, it just needs to  be used wisely.

I have struggled with depression and bipolar disorder and I have finally come to grips with it. It is part of who I am. I can use the talents I have to try and heal myself. If I can listen to my body and treat it right, I should be okay. If I take care of myself I can live to be 102, since I come from a long line of stubborn and resilient women.

I can speak out for others that suffer and show them a better way. I can be a rabble rouser and speak  out for those that will not or cannot speak for themselves. By doing so, the world can be made better. I feel like a chick pecking its way out of a shell, maybe it is just Easter coming on, but I think there is something good about to happen!

 

 

the lentil soup project

I love lentil soup too. Unfortunately, no one else in my family does. The boys called it “brown slop” – and would sit and stare at it until I told them they could have PB & Jelly instead. I make it differently every time, but Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook has a very good recipe in it.

yoonanimous

I really like lentil soup. I’ve liked it since I had my first bowl of it in Istanbul, which is a d-baggy thing to say, like when people come back from Italy and say they won’t eat pizza anymore because it wouldn’t be as good as the pie they had in Naples. Go back to Naples then! Who’s stopping you? But anyway, it’s true: they have spices in Turkey that people don’t use much here, like Aleppo pepper, and I’ve searched for years for a recipe to recreate the magic of my first lentil soup experience, and never gotten even close.

But that’s all in my past. I’m a mom now, and don’t have time to waste on perfecting my own culinary experiences. I just want to cook things that my kids will eat. After pick-up last week, Finn and I stopped in at a coffee shop across the street…

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