Why I Probably Won’t Have Five Children After All

I’ve been hating my living room for months now – something’s been off for ages and I couldn’t put my finger on it, so this weekend we started Project UnSuckify The Living Room (Hey Mr. E:  We’ve started Project UnSuckify the Living Room) and I moved in a area rug and sold some crap on Craigslist and conceptualized some new curtains and some built ins.  I shoved a bookshelf across the room and since Mr. E refused to let me just leave it full of books and let the books fall where they may, I had to unload it before shoving it ten feet and so behind some books on the third shelf I found a box of pictures – prints that BFF Sara had taken of Eli’s first few moments in this world as well as some pictures of his nursery a few hours before his first few moments in the world.

Looking at those photographs of his picture perfect nursery reminded me a of a moment – sometime right after the last ABC poster had been hung and the last little outfit had been lovingly placed in a drawer.  Mr. E was in shock at the amount of time and money I’d poured into the nursery quietly admiring all my hard work and he dug a little green polka dotted receiving blanket out of the tote where I’d stored them – carefully folded and ordered and sorted, and then he casually put it back, but turned the wrong way.

I darted across the room and corrected the orientation so that all the receiving blankets were lined up correctly again, the corners neat, the smooth edges facing up, the cutest ones toward the front of the tote, and Mr. E looked at me, shaking his head, and said “You SO need to have five boys.”

But two years and some change later, I’ve realized something.  I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to figure it out, but the fact of the matter is, this is who I am.  I am a perfectionist, a receiving blanket straightener.  I line up the tea bags while I wait for my latte at Starbucks, and it doesn’t matter what you think of me, it doesn’t matter how many pills I take or how many eye rolls you throw my way or how many kids I end up having.  I am hard wired this way.  There will never be anything, any amount of children, that makes me not care how the towels are folded, how the receiving blankets are lined up in the tote.  Because I don’t end up caring less. I just end up frustrated that I don’t have the time or the energy or the free hands I need to do things the right way, my way.

There’s probably some talk therapy out there, some perfectionist treatment that could make me care less.  I could zap my wrist with a rubber band every time I thought about my linen closet.   Maybe I could have five boys and see how that works out for me.

But I am starting to think maybe it’s just easier to admit that this is who I am.  To smile when other people roll their eyes.  To laugh when Mr. E shakes his head.  And to keep right on straightening the towels, lining up edges with the best of them.


12 Responses

  1. I want to see those pictures of Eli when he was first born!

  2. I think it’s important to come to this realization – I am this way too – but an even more important realization I had a few months ago is that my husband is NOT. And I need to get off his back if things aren’t lined up perfectly or he doesn’t do things the MOMENT I ask him (because I usually end up doing it myself when he had every intention of completing the task). So, as much as I embrace my perfection, I need to appreciate his lack of it and lighten up some more.

    Actually, I can’t imagine what would have happened if I married someone like me. UGLY.

  3. Three boys will be enough to make you crazy. Trust me on this. Picking up their shoes alone will send you over the edge.

  4. I am like this about some things but not others…I drive my own self crazy. What the hell is THAT about?

  5. YES. This is exactly right. I am the same way. So what if I just vacuumed yesterday? I CAN SEE DIRT ON THE FLOOR. I don’t WANT dirt on the floor. I want kitchen stuff put away in its specific place. I want the towels folded a certain way. I want the shoes in the shoe basket at the end of the day, even if first thing tomorrow morning I’m going to pull that same pair out and wear them.

    I realize that I have to take these tasks on myself, though. No one else is going to up their standards to meet mine. It makes more work for me but it’s more satisfying that way, too, I think.

  6. I fix clothes that are thrown around at department stores, because it DRIVES ME BATSHIT.

    Around here I can’t always keep the floor clean (part of the glory of living on a farm) but you can bet your britches that my clothes are in color and style order. I even do that with my husband’s clothes… but I don’t think he really notices.

    Be proud to be yourself. You, my dear, are awesome!

  7. I clean up at the store too. I NEVER EVER EVER go to the video store, but in college I worked at one. I became a manic video display straightener. It doesn’t stop there.

    Then I had two kids. And i would be lying if I said it didn’t drive me crazy, but I HAVe changed my priorities…outwardly. Which is part of the battle anyway.

  8. Oh my…this resonates with me because I’m exactly the same way. I find it irritating at time, but I can’t do anything about it! Thankfully, my husband is very understanding and knows there are some things he should just leave to me. He still doesn’t understand why I go into a crazy defcon mode of tidying and cleaning prior to having company (BECAUSE I HAVE TO AND PLEASE DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!!), but ah well.

    Thanks for sharing the nursery pics with us. That is one precious room! Now the real test: does it still look that perfect now that Eli has more “control” of things? ;o)

  9. Oh I can so relate to this. I often think (and say) my children came to me to cure me of my OCD. It’s gotten better for me, but it’s still hard.

  10. This is comforting to me- that you can be a perfectionist, AND a mom.

  11. Yeah, I feel this way too. Nearly four years into motherhood, and all the predictions were false- I have NOT grown to care less about how clean my house is. If anything I care MORE, because it makes me feel sane even amidst the chaos of life with small kids. I’m so sorry if that makes me shallow, but there it is. I am who I am, and all the feeling guilty in the world, guilty because I’m mopping instead of coloring another picture with Addy, does nothing to actually change my behavior. I worry sometimes what that means: do I love CLEAN more than I love my KIDS, for heavens’ sake?
    But I think no. I just think cleaning and tidying is a stress relieving outlet for me, the same maybe as painting or sewing is for other, more “creative” people.

  12. I am just coming around to this line of thinking: This is how I am, and screw those that roll their eyes at me. For me, it’s been so damn difficult to deal with the fact that those closest to me (husband, brother, mother-sometimes) find me silly for being liberal, or being a social worker, or being empathetic and compassionate, or for being ME. I’m with ya! THIS IS WHO I AM!

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