Lists are pretty important to me. For all my school years, they helped me get through what seemed like endless assignments and readings. I’d have post it notes all over the place with lists of tasks for the week, and I’d even go so far as to include which day of the week I was going to complete which task. When I wanted to do something fun, a lot of time and sweat and tears went in to rearranging the tasks and days on the list in order to allow for that night at the movies or those drinks at The Brass (am I right, 304B?). Lists made my world go around, because as long as I had a list, I knew I could get my stuff done. Lists were my security, my sense of accomplishment. If I had a list made, all was right with the world.
I guess it’s because deep down, I am an organized person. You might use other, more medical terms for the type of person I am, but I’m just gonna call it organized. Sure, I like to pretend like I am this free-spirited, wild, feisty latina. And I can be that…as long as I have a list somewhere. I value orderliness. I like my ducks all lined up in a little row. I love checking things off my list. I enjoy everything in it’s place. In fact, I need everything in it’s place, if I am going to relax. I can’t sit and watch a movie if there is a pile of dishes in the sink. It’s just not possible for me.
Now, let me be clear. I need for my space to be neat and tidy. It’s what makes me tick. I don’t expect this of other people. I don’t judge you when I come over and you have dust bunnies under your couch, a layer of dust on your mantle, or toys all over the floor. I honestly probably don’t even notice. Because I don’t care what your house looks like, or how you keep it. I just need for my house to be a certain way so that I can enjoy it.
Which was easy, back in the day. I used to have a cleaning schedule. You know, like Mondays are for floors, and Wednesdays are for bathrooms. I would sit on the couch at the end of the day with a book or a tv show, and look around my house and feel that deep sense of peace that comes with a truly clean and tidy house. If your “organized” like me, you know what I am talking about.
And then I had a baby. Eight pounds and 15 ounces of beautiful, glorious, adorable, mess. In the beginning he was tiny, and couldn’t move, and wasn’t into toys, so you would think it would be easy to keep a clean house. But it wasn’t. I was exhausted. Nursing him took hours (or so it seemed), and I had such low milk production I had to pump constantly, which meant even less time for household type stuff. At the end of the day, I would look at my house and have an overwhelming sense of stress, not peace. Thankfully, I was so sleep deprived, I had no trouble falling asleep at night. More often than not, my lists remained unchecked.
And it didn’t get better with time. It got harder. My 15 month old’s favorite game is “let’s pull everything off the shelf and out of the drawers in every single room of the house, including the spices mama should have put on a higher shelf weeks ago because now there is paprika everywhere and I’ve mixed it with the shampoo I got from the bathroom and it’s making a yummy paste I can paint on the oven with.” My house is more often than not in a state of chaos.
I know that many of you will say, “oh that’s nothing compared to my chaos with three kids and two dogs and a parrot and etc, etc” and I know that you are right. I only have one. It’s not that bad. But it feels chaotic to me. Because I like my lists. I like things tidy. But that is not my reality right now.
And again it comes down to choices for me. I can spend my day running around behind my kid picking up every single thing he pulls out, constantly telling him no, or I can let him explore his world. I can let it stress me out, and take over my attitude, or I can try to calm down and let it be. I’ll be honest, most of the time I choose to do the former, but I think I am slowly learning to let go. And it’s not that I am saying I’m giving up on having a tidy home, I’m just trying to give up on letting my sense of self and worth be governed by how my house looks, and how much I accomplish in a day. I am trying to just be. And that’s hard for me. But I’m putting it on my list.