Friday, July 02, 2010

Serenity NOW

Today Owen is two months old. I'm seeing signs that he is getting "organized."  He takes a morning nap, is starting to take a more solid afternoon nap and sleeps in three hour shifts overnight. He even smiles, laughs and talks to us. This glimpse of the routine to come is cause for celebration. After all, as my best friend put it today "Doesn't he know who his mother is?"

Actually, his mother is someone who is trying to be less organized, or at least trying to just turn it all over to God for a fix. That is one odd thing to ask of God, but being organized is almost a disease for me. It's chronic and it's crippling. It's an underlying symptom of one major defect: Perfectionism.

For years, I've made a weekly menu. I adhered to strict rules like no meat on Mondays (it's just cheaper, adds variety and is healthy, not that I'm trying to justify myself.), spaghetti and meatballs on Wednesdays in the colder months, tacos on Tuesdays during the warmer months, fish on Fridays always, pizza on Saturdays. Some of the rules are just born of nostalgia ... Saturday was always pizza night when I was a kid and those who grew up in the Northeast will surely remember that Wednesday is Prince spaghetti night. I haven't made a menu since mid-April. Somehow we haven't starved to death. And once, a few weeks ago, we even ate pizza on a Sunday and tacos, with beef, on a Friday. I have no idea what we're having for dinner tonight. It might just show up at our door around 6. It might be cheesy and fattening and cost about $15 plus tip.

For me, unfolded clothes piled in a laundry basket is the equivalent of living out of a suitcase. For a chore that I dislike, I certainly have a lot of rules for folding and organizing clothes. Maybe it's my way of finding some order in the chaos. I fold outfits and two-piece pajamas together, organize the kids' clothes in their drawers or by drawer, and even organize my own shirt drawer by color of the shirt. My husband seems to organize the clothes in his dresser by frequency of use, as far as I can tell. The fact that I even try to make sense of how someone else organizes their own stuff is an indication of how sick I am. I've been known to refold my husband's t-shirts right after he's folded them. My husband and even my sister have suggested that I might ought to back off just a scoche. Jim even suggested putting Danny's unfolded clothes in a basket in his room and letting him put them away (um, no). As a compromise, I let Danny put folded clothes away and I don't fold underwear anymore. And I've ceased stuffing the babies' pocket diapers when they come out of the wash because, really, what's the point? Around here, when it's half past diaper washing time, it's time to wash again.

I have even left dishes in the sink overnight. I blame my mother for this one. All my life, I've heard the story of how the pipes froze in the trailer when I was a baby and my mother had a pile of dishes in the sink that couldn't be cleaned for days, maybe even a week. There may have even been some roaches in this story. I don't remember. Like most stories, it gets more dramatic the more times it's told. Now, as you guessed it, I can't bring my self to leave dishes in the sink.

One thing I'm learning about having three kids is that you have to let go of a lot of the little things. My children can suck the serenity right out of me and I must make the minute-by-minute decision whether to act upon (read: correct or discipline) or to let go of whatever serenity-sucking behavior they are engaging in. Those daily mental gymnastics leaves little time for all of the above.

I love a neat, orderly and serene home, but, as I found this past weekend with my toy purge, there's an easier way to accomplish that. I didn't need to do more cleaning and organizing. I needed fewer toys.

No time or energy to plan, much less make, meals? Just wing it. I've been planning and cooking meals almost nightly since just before Danny was born and I happen to live with a chef. Who cares if dinner is just sandwiches and chips? And, I've found, that it really is okay to let people bring you meals, even when the baby is two months old and I should be able to handle this by now (I'm a little hard on myself, can't you tell?). We had two lovely, hot meals this week courtesy of neighbors.

Who cares if the laundry is wrinkled and unfolded? It's just going to get crumpled on the way to the dresser and filthy dirty two minutes after they're dressed for the day.

Who cares if the some dishes are left to, um, soak overnight? Unless the ants leave the start making their way to the counter, I'm just not going to sweat it. I'll just think of  the crunchy kitchen floor buffet beneath the kids' seats as a decoy.

When new serenity inducing ideas are not forthcoming, no matter how many deep breaths I take, I can just stand in my kitchen and do what George Constanza's dad does.

Yell, at the top of my lungs, "Serenity Now." Surely, God will hear me.


Molly said...

Hey Josee. In solidarity I wanted to let you know that I am currently using washcloths to dry the dishes because all the clean dishtowels are upstairs, unfolded, in the laundry basket. Also, we are having crock pot chicken tacos for dinner tonight that I forgot to put in the crock pot until 4:30. Maybe we'll eat by 8:00. And I don't have a baby.:)

Josee said...

Oooh, you gave me an idea ... maybe I should stop drying my dishes, too. One less thing to fold, right?

Email me that recipe, by the way. Sounds delish.

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