There is a fine line between order and compulsion. Motherhood has made me uncomfortably aware of how close I can get to the compulsion side of order in an attempt to feel like I am still in control.
And I am not in control. Ever. But I like to pretend that I am.
So I tried an experiment. In January, I started back to work part-time and realized instantly that I am not the do-it-all mother and wife that maybe I thought I would be and that the only way for me to stay a little bit on the this side of sane would be to embrace a bit of chaos. I let others pick up the way they pick up, I let a toddler help in any way he saw fit without steering his actions in anyway, I cleaned things up but with only little awareness that cars go with cars and trains go with trains and I let the living room stay scattered with toys. This for me, was treading in the world of chaos. Well, maybe it was just getting my big toe wet but I had to start somewhere.
And, it was okay. Not comfortable, not unbearable. Just okay.
And then the unexpected happened and the extreme nausea of the 1st trimester of pregnancy set in and everything fell farther into chaos. Dishes in the sink, toys all around, piles of laundry scattered on the dining room table. Until last week, when after 2 months with a live in au pair who had now returned home and 10 days of visitors and a weekend trip to watch the rodeo in Reno, there was suddenly this sense of calm that came over me. And then, an intense urge for order. So at 7:30 last Monday, while the nugget contently managed his car collection, I put trains with trains and books with books and tracks with tracks. I put a few things away in the closet to be pulled out on another day. I even put a few things away in the donation bag.
And just like that, life for me became a bit more digestible.
Part of growing up is accepting who we are on the one hand and being open to transformation and growth on the other. I like an orderly house, I like less stuff - and as long as I don't twist myself into a neurotic state to keep it that way or have unrealistic expectations for those with whom I share my home space (namely a husband and toddler at this point), then we should be able to co-habitate quite beautifully together and live harmoniously with the occasional mess.
The woman who totaled my bill at the Jiffy Lube yesterday told me that I have such a happy kiddo. And instead of brushing it off, I stopped everything, and just looked at him. She was right. He is happy.
The reason this woman's words caught my attention is because a month ago a friend of a friend said the exact same thing to me but with even more reverence. She said it almost as if she was so grateful to have been reminded that there are happy children in the world.
I am not sharing this to perpetuate the perfectness of my child. I am sharing it because a strangers words made me realize that I take this fundamentally important notion so totally for granted. And in taking it for granted realize that I make choices and decisions in the "name of raising a happy child" that have really nothing to do with what happiness is.
And that is something I want to bring to the forefront of my awareness.
The reason is this: I can get wrapped up in the gloom and doom and overwhelm of being an adult. And I can go there very quickly. And I can begin to second guess my choices and wonder about being a good enough mother and adequate wife. And I can judge my choices and my thoughts and my...the list goes on. And still amidst all of that, I can have this happy kiddo.
And that is something I need to remind myself of every day.
I left my men at home this Saturday morning and joined a few other savvy shoppers at the annual sale of the Marin Parents of Multiples Club. Guess I wasn't the only one who wanted to get here when the doors opened...
I was impressed by the sheer volume and disciplined organization of it all. A hold area for big bulky items and everything sorted by size and category made the whole experience almost pleasant. There was a bit of pushing and "mindlessness" but as I had time and no real need for anything, I just sort of went with the flow.
$83.50 got me a firetruck, a multi-floor car garage and an overstuffed bag of 2T/3T clothes. Not bad for a Saturday morning shopping trip.