I Am My Mother's Daughter, After All

Magnet by the lovely and talented Anne Taintor - I love her stuff!

My mother was a total clean freak when my sisters and I were growing up. She was not only a perfectionist herself, she demanded perfection from us, too, and nothing - I mean nothing - was ever good enough to meet her standards. While I carry oh, so many issues from this, I'm writing tonight about... cleanliness obsession. It's an obsession that means once you decide to clean something, you won't - you can't - rest until said thing is *completely and totally* clean. Cleanliness obsession is what caused my mom to take apart the oven door, so she could clean between the glass. Cleanliness obsession is what caused her to scrub a brass-plated lamp until the brass was all gone.

I really, truly thought I had escaped this particular brand of hell. OK, I can get... a little obsessed. Just slightly - like scrubbing under a metal rim of a glass pan lid with a toothbrush and Barkeeper's Friend. Or, maybe, just possibly, once! taking the rim off of that same lid so I could clean out the grunge. Just once, I swear. And I stopped myself as soon as I saw what I was doing.

But today... today I reached a new level of cleanliness obsession. My mom would be so proud. I mowed the lawn for the first time this Spring, and the grass, because it was already so tall (not the grass, but whatever that weedy stuff is, with seeds that pop everywhere) was still damp. I had to stop a couple of times to clear the wet grass off of the mower blade, and from under the mower. When I was done, and putting the mower away, I decided one more swipe would be good before I put the mower in the shed. So I wiped all the wet grass off the blade. I wiped the wet grass off of the underside of the mower. I noticed a mat of dried grass on the underside of the mower, and peeled most of that off. I noticed some grass around the belt on the underside of the mower, and dug my fingers in there to pull that out. I noticed some dried grass still stuck to the underside of the mower, that I couldn't get with my hands... and I almost went inside to get a knife or some other tool to peel it off. I actually stood up, heading to the house, before I regained my sanity. I was picturing steel wool and toothpicks and toothbrushes... my mower was going to be *shiny*, people! Shiny!! The freakin' underside of my *mower*. Thank heavens I stopped myself.

Stop me before I clean again!!


ChrEliz said...

I can totally relate to this. I know, I know. The underside of the mower. Meanwhile, in my case, there' I'd be with a toothpick, srraping off the bits of dried grass, and inside my house there are 4 loads of laundry that need to be folded, the dishes piled up in the sink, and I can't even find the surface of my desk under all the paper. But the underside of the mower (I can't think of my own example, because there are just so many and I don't even take stock and realize when I'm doing it most times) is shiny. *eye roll* At least you recognize the madness though! *chuckle* My best ally? A kitchen timer. I'll say, I'm going to put these clothes away, and ~maybe~ tidy this drawer while I'm at it, but I'm setting the timer for 20 minutes so I can't start contact-papering the drawers and oiling the drawer runners and refinishing the dresser and ironing my underwear and [fill in the OCD blank here]. I am allotting 20 minutes to myself to put these clean clothes in this drawer, and then I'm moving on to my next task. The timer really works for me! Then if I want to come back and put drawer lines in later, I can choose to do that task, as opposed to compulsively getting pulled into it without taking stock of what I'm doing. I can choose to spend my time the way I *really* want to. Of course, right now my timer batteries are dead, so... Be afraid, be very afraid. *chuckle* Great blog post! Loved it.

Janet said...

If you still feel like cleaning, come over my house. It needs a good cleaning, believe me!

I clicked on your blog from Mrs. G's...saw your first concert was the Kinks and just wanted to tell you I saw Ray Davies in concert Sunday night. He kicked ASS!!!

dharmamama said...

Ha! Unfortunately, Janet, I can really relate to chreliz - I would get to your house and get distracted with cleaning *one* thing into submission, and would totally miss whatever mess was in front of me. Or - maybe it works differently at other people's homes? But that's how it is here!

Chreliz, I've used a timer and it DOES help SO much. But you know what? I lost mine in our move, and I've been too lazy/unmotivated/rebellious to get another. Go figure.

So cool that Ray's still rockin'!

Lynne said...

I found you through Bossy's blog. Your blog caught my eye because I am a recovering obsessive cleaner. My children and husband have dubbed me Mrs. Clean and my son says I clean things out of existence. I have to admit, I'm starting to care less and less about the perfection. I just don't have the energy anymore!

Jen M. said...

Oh. My. God. First - I need the magnet. Second - I was contemplating how I could remove the glass top of my stove so I could clean the edges.

I am SO glad I am going back to work.

Mrs. G. said...

This scares me just a little. You would gasp at the sight of my lint filter.

dharmamama said...

No, I wouldn't Mrs. G! That's the thing - cleanliness obsession comes over just *one* item, and it doesn't matter how anything else in your house looks! My lint filter is scaring me!