Boy Scout Motto Redux

As a parent and especially a mother you need to be prepared for ANYTHING. Over the last 8 years I’ve got used to stepping on dinos, finding action figures under my butt and the occasion plastic snake in the bath bucket.

Each animal does tend to stay in its own “ecosystem” though. For example the snake I found in the bucket was a sea snake. The dolphins and sharks that crop up on the cistern or in the bath enclosure are technically near water.

Today I saw TO had found a new way to mark his territory- he left a perfectly formed clay ‘S’ in the bathroom. Say hello to graffiti circa 2019!

I thought about the Boy Scout motto-‘Be Prepared’ and believe (now more firmly than ever) that it applies far more to the mother of boys, scouts notwithstanding, than the boys themselves.

Atleast somethings I can still count on remaining the same…

Saying When

I am a daughter of an never-diagnosed, almost-OCD father. And I mean that in semi-jest. Growing up, life was a series of bedspreads which had to be redone because of a semi-wrinkle towards the edge of the bed and the litany of “Perfection is NOT an accident.”

My mother, God Bless HER!, isn’t OCD but neither does she countenance sloppiness beyond a point. The kitchen is her domain and that is kept neat enough to pass a health inspection but not that neat that you can literally eat off the floor. I mean, who does that?

Life as a teenager was one of rebelling against having to put everything in neat piles in my closet against wrinkling my nose at the actual garbage dump I saw in the rooms of some of my friends.

Fast Forward to circa 2005 and I started dating a nice guy. I mean Nice Guy. But an unconcerned slob nonetheless. As long as he can find his shit (figurative one), then he doesn’t see the need to have after-school and school piles of clothes. Neither does he see the need to ball up his socks to make room in the sock drawer so things look and are neat. I never anticipated that while dragging my kid out of bed and out the door in the morning I’d have to locate spectacles, men’s underwear all the while letting the caffeine surge through my veins to insulate me against another day as a mother and wife.

The last 6+ years of my life have gone in maintaining more than basic hygiene and some modicum of order because of a baby. This baby has grown from a toddler to a grade school kid and isn’t much inclined towards tidying up unless his mother gets into her dragon avatar, complete with flashing reptilian eyes and slashing her spiked-tail. He’s more the sweep-it-under-the-rug kind of person, or chuck it under the bed. Breeding tells. Genes will kick you in the balls.

August this year my kid went off to school for 8 hours a day. This opposed to the 2-3 hours he has gone for the past 4 years. And I rejoiced. By doing nothing! Zip. Nada. And it felt goooood.

I let clothes pile up. Folding them but never completely closing the loop by either putting them away in the right closets. The couches became refugee camps for the clothes in our house. The futon in my kid’s room for his stuff and the dining room couches for a myriad of clothes, toys and God only knows what!

The house wasn’t a total dump but disarray was definitely the name of the game.

See, as a product of two slightly compulsive people who married a totally laid-back guy I’ve battled nature vs. nurture for the last 10 odd years. You can’t make your spouse over into a form that pleases you. You take the good with the bad or undesirable. And you make your peace with it either with post-kid-going-to-sleep whiskey or some rants in a random blog post or some disgruntled sulks aimed at said spouse when he finally gets back home.

And trust me, being inert doesn’t take much doing at all. It’s just a question of mind over matter. You stop minding it so it doesn’t matter!

You choose to not segregate the laundry piles and sit down to watch Modern Family because, hey! Phil, Cam and Jay are definitely more entertaining than putting away tiny t shirts which can (and will) yield to small hands pulling them into an untidy heap in a New York minute!

Watching New Girl is better than grumbling at the absent spouse who doesn’t give a rat’s ass that his well-ironed shirts are placed with care and consideration so the collars don’t get squished. He’ll shed his sweaty track pants on top of them anyhow and leave the closet door open as an additional insult to injury.

And so I let it slide. Disarray begot disarray. Piles moved from one couch to the other but never got unpiled. Till last night. After 2 months of being on a quasi-vacation from the must-dos at home I said WHEN.

I tidied up. Moderately. I mean I didn’t have a religious epiphany. I just looked around and saw that if I kept my overbearing-about-cleanliness parents and butt-scratching-mess-making husband out of the picture; I was actually a person who liked stuff tidy. I like it tidy enough for it to look pretty.

When I switch off the lights for the night I really don’t want to have to go hurt locker across the living room just to get my book, phone or any old thing from 5 feet away.

And looking at things in their own place makes my space look bigger and brighter than it actually is. And armed with that knowledge, I cleaned up. And will continue to clean up some more till the piles stay in their infancy and not get a chance to grow to an adolescent or let alone an adult stage.

It’ll never be the kind of home my folks would and could keep. And it won’t be the semi-bachelor pad my husband makes the house over the weekend but it’ll be space where I prevail and which reflects what I wanted growing up: the room to make the optimum kind of mess.

It’s funny being an adult. Some days you can feel yourself grow into your skin. It’s a surreal but a satisfying incident at the end of the day. At least you aren’t hopping on one foot till you hit your side of the bed because you stepped on the mini-dragon obstacle course your kid effortlessly designed all while getting ready for lights out.

Cleaning up is *not* a chore.

Amen.

Ask And Ye Shall Receive…

an answer, that is. It ¬†might not be the one you wanted to hear because let’s admit it; we seldom ask questions we don’t know or want the answers to. Especially the existential kind. Even with the academic kind, we’re hoping that we don’t have to be in situations where algebraic equations or doing a syntax analysis of a “complex” sentence is a regular staple.

But we do end up asking the all important, inevitable question from time to time viz WHY ME?

And the universe answers. Even with those implicit questions which you kept inside your head and hadn’t voiced out. Take my case for example. I was planning that today, Friday, was going to be the Friday that would define how the rest of the Fridays were going to be in 2016 or at least for the first half of the year. I was going to be a human whirlwind (because the position of human hurricane has been filled for the last 5+ years by the offspring) and tackle the laundry, the linens, the stuff I’d normally hide stuff in closets and get the house tidy! T-I-D-Y. And then I was going to really enjoy the weekend because I’d earned it. Big time!

And what happens this morning? I put my back out. Just a sign from the universe that the untidiness is fated to linger a la Doris Riordan’s song of the same ilk. And here I am now. Playing my role as a ungainly combo of R2D2 and C-3PO (the chunky, rotunda of the former and the stiff, jerky movements of the latter). And that¬†ladies and gents is our little nod to the Star Wars fever that’s taken over the world!

Anyhoo, getting back to moi…I guess I was (am) disappointed because today was going to be the day I zipped across town after getting the car back from the shop and not play the cliched role of a housewife binge-watching her favorite shows and grazing all day long. In properly-spaced intervals I mean. The grazing. Not the watching. That’s a continuous process.

And now I’m actually compelled to be stationary when I wanted to be bustling about.

So if we get back to where we started from viz the question we ask the Universe in an utterly vexed fashion, “why me?” it’s not difficult at all to imagine the universe answer in a deep voice (James Earl Jones for the majority and Kathleen Turner for the feminists among us), “why not you?”

Confessions of a SAHM

Gather around…this will not be repeated for the fear of an epidemic of husbands dumping more work on frazzled wives and especially the SAHMs.

I’m going to share the secrets of the sisterhood with you but hush now and come closer and read quickly because this post will self-destruct in 1 minute!

We like doing laundry. Especially when we add in that luscious, thick, summery liquid fabric softener that makes the clothes smell “soft”.

We like polishing our tables too. Why do you think Lemon-scented Pledge is all you see in the supermarkets. We love to polish till the gloss of the table starts reflecting the giant mountains of unfolded clothes lying on the couch.

And I shouldn’t tell you this but we like folding clothes too! Yesssssssssss….the way folded clothes makes the room seem larger suddenly and allows the light rays to bounce off from chair to chair like a natural pin ball makes us feel a warm, buttery glow that usually accompanies good brandy or an exceptional single malt.

The stack of ironed clothes, ironed till the sweat from our brow springs forth, makes us feel a glory that has little to do with clothes per se but has more to do with seeing shirt after shirt, crisply folded and looking new.

A clean kitchen counter is bliss! Wiping off the last bit of grease from the stove tops feels like having run through an obstacle course and not having tripped over a single hurdle.

The gleaming tiles, the newly made beds..oh…bliss! bliss! bliss!

That is the secret life of housewives no one knows about. Shhhh

 

P.S: the author takes no responsibility for the material above seeing how it was written in a state of caffeine deficit and her immense joy at taking a break from house work and travelling for a few days.

Cheers All…may the bleach be with you.