Tuesday, May 24, 2005

clean messy, or dirty messy

Tonight was Ladies Night. Tam, C, and I went to this place for dinner and a few bellinis and we were good girls, home by 10.

Tam is a bit of a clean freak...but she works at the nasty hospital, admitting freaks to the ER, so I can't say I blame her one bit. But 'germs' are a frequent topic of our discussions at such events. Topics covered tonight were head lice in schools and the prevention/treatment of such, airplane air, which bathroom stall to choose for the lowest microbe-count, general germ transfer in every day life, as well as other plague-tainted topics.

We got to talking about how new-mom freaky we were about our babies 'way back when' and it came out that this girl made her own husband, the father of her child, wear latex gloves to change her baby for the first year. Please tell me there's something wrong with that. Please.

In the course of this conversation, C described me as a 'pig'. Really. I'm still hurt by this (and obviously dwelling) and I think it was a really mean thing to say. I can't think of any other way to take what she said, other than to have hurt feelings.

I will admit that in the past I have not kept the cleanest house in the neighbourhood. It's actually something that I get rather embarrassed about when I think back. It wasn't the proudest, nor the happiest time of my life. I was literally a mess, emotionally and physically. In the last 2 or 3 years I have learned a lot, grown a lot, and changed a lot.

In pondering my relationship with my mother (a frequent topic of thought these days), I suspect that my aversion to cleaning stems from there. She was a single mom who never had 2 days off in a row. She always spent her two days off cleaning and this always made her bitchy. We dreaded her days off because we could never do anything right. All she did was yell and bark orders. There wasn't a lot of fun, it was serious business and we were a burden... a messy burden at that.

So, when I moved out on my own, I think I subconsciously decided to be the exact opposite. I had no one to tell me what to do and I was going to be more laid back and have different priorities than her. I would still rather go to my son's ball game or help my daughter with her homework rather than wash the dinner dishes. And you know what? That's a choice I often make. They seem pretty like sound priorities to me but why do I feel so defensive about that?

I am a 'lick the lint off the soother and shove it back in before he starts crying' kind of mom. I can't say I sterilized anything for more than a couple of weeks. I never worried when my children picked up a toy off the floor and put it in their mouths, even if I hadn't vacuumed that day. Maybe not even that week.

This brings me to cleanliness standards. .. What's normal? What's fanatical? What's neglectful?

I wash my floors and clean my bathrooms once a week, but I also have three dirty little mongrels. I'm lucky if I can get them to flush the toilet. Despite that fact, under all the toys laying on the floor, the dishes in the sink, and the shoes in the foyer, my house isn't too bad. Not sterile, but cleaning products are applied weekly.

Is there a difference between Clean Messy and Dirty Messy? I'm thinking a little obsessively about this and want to avoid becoming as clean-crazy as my mother if I can help it. I don't want to be her.

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