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.
I usually write a blog post every year on my birthday but didn’t get around to it this year. Reason? I was busy and happily so.
From the cutting of the cake (usurped by the offspring) to a 2-margarita lunch with a good friend, to the usual suspects barging in to wish me a happy birthday; it was a good day full of good moments turned into good memories.
What’s been happening since I hit 36? Well, work is rewarding as ever. I play multiple roles and am a self-titled bouncer and I have to say I like it!
I don’t think saying ‘NO’ to people is the draw there. It’s more about having some semblance of order and things being systematic; quite a few things I regularly struggle for in my everyday life. And while that makes it sound like I live in perpetual chaos, it would be fair to say that the “order in the disorder” is a good way to sum up my home front.
A good friend of mine always says that she can turn her OCD on and off and I’ve embarked on the same path. There are days I can spend oodles of time straightening up, making more space and keeping things tidy and there are other days when areas of the house look like we’re ready to hold a good ol’ fashioned garage sale!
The biggest change for me is going to the gym from January of this year and while the results are not earth-shattering, they are steady and they are real…what more can you ask for while stomping your way to 40?
More books are being read, more pictures are being taken and more is being learnt about the self on a fairly regular basis. And new goals, essential and non-essential, are being set to explore more meaning, more fun and to mark the passage of time in more memorable ways.
So this is me at 37…looking forward to 38.
This is going into the category of a bloglet viz it’ll be brief.
There’s a book my husband bought me once the brat started pre-primary…it’s called How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk. Since the book did not mention anything about how to talk so husbands will listen and stop leaving wet towels all over the place; I decided not to do much about this book reco.
I already knew then and still know how to talk so my kid would listen- dress like a giant lollipop, have Play-Doh in one hand, the t.v. remote in the other and preferably enter riding on a dinosaur!
Maybe then….and maybe Utopia is just around the corner! Pshaw!!
Courtesy Facebook’s memories I get to know about how and what I was thinking not only on a time a specific time in the past but also how I was feeling. And when I wrote this post I was a bit more of an anxious mother, fretting about my kid’s school, academic “career” as it were and basically uncomfortable about not knowing what lay ahead. Fast Forward two years I’m still sipping at the font of wisdom that is Life and learning loads while my kid goes to school. Here’s how it is…
- A child will learn at their own pace no matter what!
- A teacher who loves kids (genuinely) will probably be able to teach more through affection and warmth rather than another more knowledgeable individual who is distant or doesn’t form relationships with the kids.
- Digital media, chalkboard, flashcards are all props…native intellect needs to be stirred and awake for learning to occur.
- Making things interesting is all fine and good but it helps that the biological age increases and life experiences help kids understand why they need to learn.
- Getting a good night’s sleep and cutting off from anything academic goes a long way in learning taking place.
- Physical activity- silly and unstructured or properly regimented aids in learning as well.
- Learning can come from various sources provided it’s pitched at the right time and the right way.
- Parents need the teachers’ presence more than the kids…just to be assured that all’s going as it should.
- Taking a small step back from policing the child (even with all the best intents in the world) is a fantastic thing to do while they’re below the tweens.
- Reflecting on what were turn-offs and stumbling blocks while we were students helps empathize and give the child space to assimilate their learning material.
- Accepting that there’s a Bell Curve and your child will grow into a more permanent place in it, helps be good parents as well.
- Trusting the people you entrust your kid’s physical, emotional and overall well-being to and yet realizing our role is constant in the whole scope of things.
- Acknowledging that improvements- slight, steady or sporadic; are still a step in the right direction give you a good night’s sleep.
Long story short? The AC bus and the pool helps because trappings are important. But a teacher who makes sure your kid has a balanced meal daily and who can come back and share positive and negative feedback with indemnity goes a long, long way in knowing how to be supportive while your child learns about life. Be it from a tablet, a workbook or just from a walk in the park. Because a big part of being a parent is taking a backseat while your kid gets the controls of life just right. You have to deal with not always being able to call ‘shotgun’.
Here endeth the lesson.
This book speaks for itself. It’s non-preachy and basically talks about the incomprehensible, inexplicable turns a person’s life takes once they become a parent. From juice boxes to joy, partying to poop and basically the utter, utter delight and nerve-wracking situation that is parenthood. Brian Gordon is someone every parent and non-parent should read (although parents will be the ones nodding along like bobble heads while the non-parents pat themselves on the back on having dodged that particular bullet!) to see the humor that often escapes us during parenting. Especially during poopy-times 🙂
Pick up your copy today. I did! 🙂
Ask a woman if she’s easier in her mind about being 36 years old versus being 36 in the waist and you can bet you’ll be on the receiving end of the MOST disdainful look which roughly translates to, ” Yeah right! AS IF! What kind of question is that anyhow? How DUH ARE you?!” and it goes on and on and on.
For someone who *is* 36 and enjoying it (so far), the fear of turning 36 in the waist wasn’t too far in the horizon. The girth has been expanding and innate laziness and a bad case of unstickittoiveness led me to think that henceforth denim (the wonder material and no, it’s not Lycra) might be something I could find and fit into with great difficulty.
And I’ll tell you why this is. The craze for skinny, low riding jeans for women seems to have taken over the world where the words comfort-fit are possibly the worst things you can say to a salesperson apparently. Each stack of denim, whether in the time-tested brands of Levis, Lee or Pepe, seems to have variations of skinny over and over again.
When a person like me, who hasn’t been remotely skinny EVER, heads over to shop for denim the sales people seem to gulp and summon their courage to tell me nothing is available in my size and probably won’t be unless I start to shop in stores which cater specifically to those of us who are more than reasonably well-fed.
I told Red I wanted a pair of new jeans on my birthday, the old one long having given up the ghost with all the thigh chaffing and splitting at the seams from my ever-expanding ways. He took it well although I suspect he had some scenes playing out in his head of me storming out of the trial rooms ranting about how only skinny people could shop off the rack these days for basic clothing yada yada yada.
And contrary to his usual manner of tasting his feet while he talks, he did not ask the sales girl to get me the largest size they had available. He merely gave me the floor and told me to pick what I liked and try it on. Phew…birthdays sure good days for husbands to learn tact. Sadly the next day they go back to square one.
Anyhoo, I picked a pair to try out and entertained scary thoughts of my own about all the huffing, puffing and jiggling up and down, hopping on one foot just to get the jeans on and then shimmying like you know who (the ladies who like to dance around poles with minimal to no clothes on) just to get the pants up to my waist when a miracle happened………….wait for it………………………………………………………………………………..The pants rose like magic (but not like extra-large clown pants) to meet me on their own. I was able to button the waist without doing the Lamaze huff-puffs and when I squatted to see how tightly the seams were being tested, they didn’t even whimper! Ask women how often they moon the trial room mirrors when test driving new jeans and you’ll have a bunch of women fit to cry their eyes out!
Manna from the heavens on the first pair of jeans?! Someone up there (or down there) wanted me to have a happy birthday for sure!
And what is the point of this rambling and avoidable description of me fitting into jeans? It’s not about the weight entirely. The older you get you do mellow but you also realize there might not be going back to certain things. A 28-inch waist for one. Not only because your kid would miss head butting your extra bouncy tummy and your husband would end up needing pillows to lean on instead of you but also because somewhere you made your peace with the flab. You certainly don’t want to nurture it but it’s there so what’re gonna do? You love to hate it!
Finding something that goes right, the way it’s supposed to, the first time around is a nice change from everything that you need to and have to work at. A pair of jeans that slid up the on the first try without any grunts out of you and were soft enough to sleep in as well, sometimes makes all the difference.
Now if it had turned out that my waist was 36 instead of my age, that would be a descent to a whole new level of madness and a totally different blog post altogether! We are talking a new level in the Inferno for God’s sake!
I can totally understand why certain people cross over to the dark side and embrace OCD. Well, given that we’re talking of OCD am guessing the embracing is a compelling act, ‘cuse the pun, por favor.
So laundry…yeah. It’s a necessary evil if you want to wear clean clothes and in case you don’t have a Centurion card to back up the expense of new clothes every day. The second biggest reason of laundry being a must-do is kids. You can always tell the significant other to turn the undies inside out and make do if he can’t find a clean pair (not that it *ever* happens in this household..ahem ahem) but you can’t tell your kid that they don’t have their favorite monster face undies or that their dragon tshirt that they wear as a uniform each time you go out to eat Chinese is still languishing at the bottom of their hamper.
But the act of doing laundry is something that has become a god-awful elaborate ritual. Earlier it was maybe putting the washing machine on a different mode for delicate clothes or a heavy load but now it’s a 3-4 step process in actually washing the clothes.
Take a gander at this-
- Pre-treat whites and colors with separate bleaches for whites and colors respectively and keep aside for 5-10 minutes. But first test on an inner seam to make sure the bleach doesn’t bleach anything else except the damn stain and your son’s favorite tshirt isn’t missing a stegosaurus head or triceratops tail at the end of laundry cycle.
- Use a special cuffs and collars liquid for the rings around the neck and well..wrists. These rings give me a slack-jawed look each time I see them. They rate right up there with the rings of the crop circles that has the world goggled. I just don’t understand how people who bathe regularly and one of whom I personally scrub till spanking red, gets rings around the collars. EVERY TIME.
- Check on the pre-treated clothes and give a scrub if needed to get the stubborner stains out. It’s always needed.
- Scrub seams, near the buttons a bit more delicately of the rest of the clothes.
- Choose appropriate load in the machine.
- Add appropriate detergent- powder on the days we’re washing jeans and everyday tees and the special liquid one for the Lord and Master’s clothes and school uniforms. Damn private schools!
- Add fabric softener or yet more bleach depending upon how well each member of the family has fed themselves.
- Finally, close the lid and send a prayer up to the Gods of Laundry and Washed Clothes that the clothes at least appear washed even if they don’t look sparkling clean.
And that, ladies and gents, is how I do laundry at home.
One the last few occasions I’ve asked Red to do the laundry (the last time was in mid-2015) his shirts still had the sleeved rolled up, I found 50 rupees in the pocket of his cargos and the drum of the washing machine was clinking like a Vegas slot machine when someone hits the jackpot all because the loose change hadn’t been kept aside.
Nuff said about why he will never do laundry unless I’m there to micromanage it entirely!
How do I get out this vicious cycle of cursing a blue streak while I look at the dirty clothes and wish there wasn’t any dirt, pencils in the world or that Indians didn’t need turmeric in their food?! I’ve actually thought about switching to all-white foods but I don’t see these two eating cauliflower and white sauce with rice forevermore.
In the meanwhile, Clorox will be my best friend for ever and ever and ever!
P.S: If this post reads slightly in the Cinderella vein, it is. Although instead of a buff Prince Charming, my version has a charwoman with a washboard.