My children think I’m crazy. This is not new information. They’ve been harboring these feelings for years, probably since before they could speak, and they don’t even try to hide it. They roll their eyes at my unreasonable demands to perform insane tasks such as ‘Put your clean laundry away’ or ‘Take out the garbage before the Leaning Tower of Rubbish falls over and kills the dog’ or, my favorite, ‘Don’t stuff your dirty socks in the couch cushions’.
Unfortunately, they’re right. I am crazy – but, it’s their fault. Before I had children, I lived a predictable, orderly life. I knew if I cleaned the house before I went to work, I’d come home to a clean house. I knew if I left ice cream in the freezer or bought a bag of chips, they would be patiently waiting for me to eat them whenever I felt like snacking. I like order. Order and I are old friends who haven’t seen nearly enough of each other lately.
Here’s a little background information to go along with this rant – my children are close in age, currently 17, 16, and 14. When they were small, I kept up with the housework by sacrificing a couple of hours of me time each day. I was busy, but I didn’t mind. After all, everyone assured me that as the kids got older, they would be able to help out more, giving me a break. “Don’t worry,” they said, “In a few years, they’ll be cleaning their own rooms and helping out with the household chores. It’ll be great. You’ll see.”
Lies! All lies! Oh sure, some things have gotten easier. I often leave a list of chores for my children to do while I’m at work, and – amazingly – they almost always complete this list as asked. This is mainly because they know what threshold of my crazy they can handle and have no desire to exceed that threshold. Sounds terrific, right? Where’s the lie?
The lie is one of omission and the root cause of my insanity. No one told me my little darlings wouldn’t see the path of disorder and destruction they’ve left in their wake – the giant pile of shoes in the living room, the backpack in the middle of the floor or the dresser drawers in such disarray they appear to have been a holding tank for demons who were forced to claw their way to freedom. No one told me they would ignore the dishwasher full of clean dishes patiently waiting to be put away, instead opting to pile their dirty dishes sky-high in the sink. No one told me teenagers won’t notice the trail of popcorn, toast crumbs and cereal they’ve distributed throughout the kitchen and living room. No one told me that all of these messes remain invisible until I’ve lost my shit and gone on a tirade of epic proportions.
Don’t worry, though. My crazy has a built in, self-limiting, anti-explosive mechanism – Mommy Guilt. Powerful stuff. My children aren’t bad kids. In fact, they’re great. We have lots of fun together. They are seldom disrespectful and rarely get into trouble – unless you count missing homework assignments. (*Cough* Nick *Cough*) So, as soon as my tirade is finished, the eye rolling has stopped and the cleaning begun, I feel terrible for snapping because, in the grand scheme of things, a messy house isn’t the end of the world.
What my children don’t know, though, is that because they’ve contributed to and are largely responsible for my insanity, I’m constantly on the lookout for new ways to bring order and stability to my life. My only requirement is for these new methods of organization to somehow annoy and irritate the minors in my household. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a detailed chore chart to create…