Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More on the Matron's Issues

I love this line from a Mary Oliver poem: "What will you do with your one wild and precious life?"

Yesterday, we discussed the Matron's special relationship with a pair of very important jeans. She has other psychic black holes as well. Look at the Parental Bed! How tidy! How spare! Someone--and that would be the Matron herself--knows her way around a mop and broom. There's a pleasant firm tuck to those sheets, too.

The Matron cannot tolerate clutter. If there are piles of junk around the house--say globs of backpacks, boots, coats and shoes abandoned by the front door or a living room transformed into a fort city, complete with several large cardboard structures or days of the dreaded Science Project on the dining room table --- well, if these conditions develop (and of course, they do) the Matron's brain cells ignite and then actually abandon ship. This is a bad thing.

The Matron is inflicted with a rare and obviously untreatable condition in which her own brain sucks in the clutter around her and stops working. Focus, clarity, intellectual acumen: gone.

There can be dust bunnies. Dirt is allowed to accumulate. After all, the Matron is not entirely insane. She neither likes nor dislikes cleaning. It is simply a task that must be done. Now that the children are older, they have developed relationships with sponges, 409 and dish soap.

But clutter is another thing entirely. Junk on the floor is evil. The mangle of firetrucks, crayons, dirty socks and half-eaten apple next to the couch will eventually rise up and kill the Matron. See the expanse of space here? All that beautiful wood with nothing on the floor?! That glint you see is Happiness, raw and pure.

Alas, children shed clutter like dog hair. Drop drop drop: batman underpants, gold toe socks, bubble gum wrappers, freezie wrappers, bowls of cheetos, Samantha's Pink Party dress, book book book book, Pikachu card, yellow dump truck, matchbox police car, walkie talkie, spent batteries, unscrewed pen and accompanying contents, Spelling book, final reminder about lost library book, note from teacher, lunch box, best friend's bandanna. This is the mother of all endless lists.

Friends inquire about my day: "What did you do today, Mary?"

Me: "I moved items from where they were dropped to the place they belonged."

The Matron spends 80% of her wild, precious life moving things around her house. Floor to closet. Couch to drawer. Countertop to appropriate shelf. Stairs to coat rack. Repeat.

She often wonders why she is the only one in the entire house who seems to have this skill.

One member of the household causes the Matron particular pain. Remember dear Peanuts' Pigpen? Poor guy stood in a circle of dirt. So does Scarlett. She emits clutter like radiation. Junk flies off her and cavorts around the house.

The Matron and her daughter have engaged in some dark Freudian battles over the bracelets and leggings and bookmarks that travel in Scarlett's wake. You see, the Matron can close a bedroom door and pretend that room does not exist. This is called hoping one's untreatable and rare Clutter Brain Suck doesn't infect children and that the Matron herself is not the complete and all encompassing focus of all future theraputic needs.

The Matron's solution is to gather Scarlett's debris from around the house, put it in a pile and close the door. Look what her talented child can strew about the house in the slim hours before going to bed and leaving for school the next day. She's got game, that girl. This is a fresh pile, newly begun. When the pile gets large enough to tax the family oxygen supply, Scarlett is required to disassemble.

Incurable Clutter Brain Suck finds some relief in Pinot Noir. When this state cannot be induced, the Matron moves stuff. Book, plate, peanut butter. This wild and precious life, bound.


. . . said...

Now you are a woman I can relate to, Matron! Clutter sends me over the edge.

Anonymous said...

I, too, seem to be the only one in this place that has the genetic code of "pick up my stuff and put it away." However, I do remember my mother was also the only one ... hmmm? Seems there is an aging pattern involved?

Suburban Correspondent said...

One friend of mine has a mantra: "If it is on the floor, it is trash." I wish I had her nerve.

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I'm ashamed to admit my entire family suffers from Crazy Clutter disease.

I'm in recovery, as a Mom of course, because we all knows someone has to take the reins.

But way too many hours are spent playing a mover for my taste.

Liv said...

la liv would like the matron's disorder to infect her because she lives in chaos which she is powerless to change. dirt bothers the smack out of liv, but sadly, the piles of stuff are mounting. please advise.

Anonymous said...

I have a selective clutter disorder. Empty glasses and shoes, mostly. And I'm more of a Petit Sirah Gal, myself.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Clutter also flies off of my daughter. I spend a good portion of my day following her mess. It's like a yard sale exploded in each room!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

I allow the clutter to form in my (home) office only. I keep the rest of the place looking spiffy by removing all manner of paper, piles, and miscellaneous items to my own space. When I'm fed up with the pile, I procrastinate, do something I hate doing less than clearing the piles, and then finally dive it and get it done. It's a strange dance, worthy of an entire therapy session, except that it really is obvious. In so doing, I am selflessly sacrificing, martyring myself like only a mom will do, so that in this case the rest of my family has an aesthetically pleasing environment. I have to stop that this instant!

Karen said...

We seem to be kindred spirits--the grime can accumulate all it wants, but the clutter? It drives me stark raving mad! I've noticed that the mood of our house gets negative when it's cluttered--we snap at each other more, there are more temper tantrums, more crying fits. I'm lucky, though, in that my husband feels the same--he's just as motivated as me to pick up.

Beth said...

I am very, very patient with clutter.
And then go on a rampage!

I love that "wild and precious life" line too.

Minnesota Matron said...

Cheri -- I'm with you. I'm creating immobile monsters in my own children, who appear incapable of lifting a delicate finger to help. But I can't control myself. Once, Scarlett left a doll on the table and said, "Mom, I'm going to come back in five minutes and play again so please don't put Amy away."


Anonymous said...

OMG, we are cut of the same cloth. Perhaps we're twins separated at birth. I get so crazy about clutter that even watching Clean Sweep on TLC raises my blood pressure--and it's on TV! I cannot tolerate clutter--not here, not in other people's houses, not in a boat, not with a goat. I think when the children move out it will me just me and Mr. D with 2 spoons, 2 dishes, 2 cups and 2 beds.

Duly noted on the Pinot as a clarifying agent for the clutter-encrusted brain.

Yolanda said...

I can relate too. I though have crazy clutter disease like lisa. LOL

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Clutter brain suck! I am similarly afflicted, although until now I just called it "being neurotic." Thanks for giving it a much more descriptive name.

Unfortunately my disease includes dirt issues; luckily I'm also very efficient and organized.

I used to have a cleaning lady, and coming home to the smell of Pledge was one of the best parts of my week!