I wasn’t ever actually diagnosed but I’m pretty sure it was a thing for me.
Obsessive compulsive disorder. I was a parent’s dream. I had the cleanest room in (probably) the world. You could eat a meal off of my dresser and it would be cleaner than a restaurant table (no joke). I had this profound desire to keep things in order and that I did. There was set routine and a schedule for everything.
Sunday’s were for cleaning and laundy/washing my sheets (Yes, I did my own laundry from a young age)
Monday’s were for painting my nails (and for some weird reason I always painted them brown)
Tuesday’s, Thursday’s, Saturday’s I had dance
Wednesday’s were for school work
Friday’s were for fun
If anything threw me off of my schedule I would spiral into a pool of anxiety and I did not know how to swim my way out. If someone moved a picture frame ¼ of an inch on my dresser, I would totally lose my shizzz. Why would it be there? That’s not where it goes! It looks so wrong! Fix it! If for some reason I woke up at 6:32 instead of 6:30, I would get so worked up that I couldn’t go to school (because, you know, those 2 minutes are a BIG deal!) It was bad. I’ve never really figured out why I had such an immense desire to control my environment but I’m sure there was a reason.
This whole OCD theory fizzled down when I was in college. I was living my best life as well as living a bad dream all at once. With break ups and full school loads, and hours and hours of dance, work, homework, my room looked more like a war zone than the zen garden it used to.
My mom would always tell me that she could tell how I was doing on the inside based on the appearance of my environment. And she was right. Even to this day when I look around and evaluate what my house looks like, it usually correlates with what is going on in my head and in my life. Right now? My house looks like a semi-picked up, could be cleaned quick if someone said they were stopping by kind of place. And I suppose you could say the same for my mind :P.
Once I had kids, my anxiety about the state of my environment came back times a million. I would get really overwhelmed with all of the toys, the laundry, the messes, the crumbs, the madness. It was absolutely paralyzing. Where do I begin, how do I keep up? AAHHHH!!! It was all TOO much. I’ve gotten a better grip on the anxiety of it all but to be honest, I still lose my shizzz at times from the disorder of it all.
It has taken work (a lot of work) to get to a place where I can exist in a not so orderly environment while also fighting the voices in my head that tell me I cannot focus without the mess being picked up. Sometimes (okay all of the time) I feel like I can think/act/react more clearly (and more sane) when my environment displays order. Call me crazy but I have a million thoughts in my head at any given time, I don’t need a mess to look at as well (right?!). Just ask my husband who came home from work one day and the kitchen table and the bar stools were gone…I couldn’t look at them any longer! I had to get rid of them and so I sold them that day. Just the sight of them (they were black and that color was too much for my eyes apparently LOL) made me anxious. Or the color of our walls-the worst color of ugly oatmeal you have ever seen. For 5 years my skin crawled just looking at them. So, 6 months ago I finally took a paintbrush to the house and changed it to a nice, clean white (you know, not distracting or heavy on my eyes LOL). The more and more I type the more it sounds to me like the OCDness is back to some degree, but I also don’t think I’m alone, or even that abnormal…
The work I have done has allowed me to exist in my space, mess or not, without freaking out at every turn. And to be honest, this technique (if you will) that I use helps me in so many other categories of my life. I guess you could say it has helped me find the silver lining in the not so fun things in the day to day.
Here is how I work through it though. I have to remind myself that this is all temporary. This is just a blip in time, and it will be over before you know it. Soon enough the kids will be grown, there won’t be any toys to clean up and the house will be quiet…probably too quiet. I have to remember that having a mess means that I have children who are playing, learning, and most of all, having fun. A mess means that I HAVE kids and that, that is the biggest blessing of all.
As my kiddos have grown, I already see the messes change. There are no more diapers in the trash, there are no more swaddles laying around. Now the mess means that I could step on spider man or a dinosaur at any given time (every done that? Ya, not fun). The toy basket in the living space is dwindling and the donation truck has taken away a lot full of baby toys. And you know what? The memories I have when my kiddos were babies were never about the mess. They were about the love we filled our home with, messy or not.
So, take these fleeting moments you have in your home- a home to a young, growing, changing family and cherish them. Try not to allow the overwhelm of it all take you out of the moment too much. And because (if you are anything like me) I know you will still feel frustrated at times, have your momXiety moment and then remember this-Remember that the mess in front of you is not only temporary but it was created by a little tiny human that fills your house with love, light, and little crazy- and you are grateful :).
In good health,