Saturday, December 28, 2013

{Some Kind of Crazy}

Do you see this? It's a tent my kids made in the back half of our playroom. You are probably thinking, "Oh,that's fun. I remember doing that when I was a kid" or "My kids [used to] do that!" And for them, it is fun. It's a critical part of their development- they learn about creativity, teamwork, and some of the laws of physics. But for me, it induces feelings of anxiety to see it. My heart beats a little faster and I can feel my blood pressure rising. I hate every second it's up, and it takes every ounce of self-control I can muster to not make them tear it down and clean it up.

Why do I feel so overwhelmed and out-of-control whenever the kids build forts or even get all of their toys out at one time? It's not because I'm a "Neat Nick" or anything like that, because I'm not; I have my fair share of clutter. I just cannot stand messes, and at the risk of sounding all "psychological," I think it goes back to my childhood.

If you know me personally or have followed my blog, then you know I had an unusual childhood. We moved a lot, actually seven times between grades 3-8 (ages 8-13). We moved a few times before that and a couple of times after, but the main bulk was during my elementary and middle school years. Each move meant packing up our house and unpacking in another. If you have never had to make frequent moves, then you cannot relate to the feeling of knowing that you MUST start over: new town, new house, new school, new friends. It can be difficult and scary, especially for a kid. Don't get me wrong, I clearly see the Lord's hand throughout my life, but as a child, moving was a dreaded task.

How does moving relate to my insane inability to tolerate messes? Whenever we moved anywhere, I never had a say in it (not that I should have, just to be clear). But, after a while, it got really old. Since I couldn't control the situation I was facing (moving), I tried to control what I could (organizing my stuff). To this day, whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or anxious, my gut reaction is to get organized (wash the dishes to organize the kitchen, fold laundry to organize the living room, have the kids clean up their rooms so they are organized). I make my bed at least 28 out of 30 days in a month, even if I am running late. It calms me. It probably seems crazy, but again, if you know me well, you know I share my struggles in hopes that it encourages another (or at the very least normalizes the feelings others may be experiencing).

As Christmas approached, I began to feel anxious about the ensuing mess that happens after opening presents. I'm not talking about the wrapping paper, but with "stuff" cluttering the floors of the living room because it hasn't found a place to be put. It happens every year, but this year it was worse. I think there are a couple of reasons for that. 

First, I spent almost a month from mid-May to mid-June purging every space in our house, including the attic. TJ knocked down walls in our living/dining room and had to install a huge load-bearing beam in the attic. In preparation for that project, he emptied the contents of our attic into our bedroom to remove some of the weight on the trusses. He then re-did our floors in our main living space, so all the furniture was moved into the playroom. (As a side note, I left with the kids and spent a week in Ohio. There is no way I could live here while my house was upside down during the floor project!) Before putting everything back, I went through to decide if it was something we needed or wanted. That purge was the catalyst behind doing the rest of the house. We donated boxes and boxes of items to various people and places. I seriously could have filled a moving truck full of stuff! Items included clothes, toys, games, gadgets, electronics, and more. The thought of bringing items back into the house, although in the form of Christmas presents, caused anxiety.

Second, the shear number of gifts we all receive is overwhelming. That is a good thing- it means we are not lacking in any area! But again, trying to find space to put everything so it's not finding a permanent "home" in my living room is a daunting task. Some gifts the kids can only play with if they are supervised (contains small pieces, is permanent marker, etc) so I can't simply say, "Go put this away in your room." Other toys the kids deem as "special" and want to keep them for themselves. That entails finding a special place to keep it where no one will bother it (mainly Annie & Taryn). That, too, can be a time-consuming task.

So now that I've shared my insane need for organization, don't judge. We all have our little quirks and this one is mine. I have a feeling I am not alone.... :)

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