Saturday, March 7, 2009

Learning to CRAWL

I endeavor to progress my home towards a state of perpetual cleanliness. I find it difficult to progress. My best analogy would be pushing a rock up a never-ending hill. (Yes, this is a well-used analogy, generally associated with one of the deeper pits in Hades).

And, yet, gravity must be fought. The rock must continue to progress towards the summit.

In a comment on my “Lenten Observance List” post (LOL), a friend recommended that I consider engaging the Flylady. I am familiar with her. I recently found her book, which was lent to my by Indy almost exactly one-half decade ago. Her techniques and ideas are excellent. So, in spite of the fact that my losing the book in the first place was beyond a little Freudian, the dear Flylady could bear no blame for my present situation. I signed up for her e-mails.

Now I remember. I remember exactly why I lost the book.

The truth is, I don’t need to learn to F.L.Y. The Flylady suggests that by progressing towards the clean house, the happy housecleaner will learn to F.L.Y., which means Finally Loving Yourself.

For me, this is like sending someone with a weight problem to an Alcohol Anonymous meeting. I love myself just fine. In fact, if it is true that I will love myself MORE with a clean house, society should appreciate my disaster as it probably benefits from this appropriate dose of humility. I read a testimonial in a Flylady email this morning, in which someone admitted that they finally got dressed to the shoes and stopped craving Little Debbie cakes. I am happy for anyone who succeeds in a personal struggle. This, however, is not my struggle.

And, well, it got me thinking.

Another Flylady mantra is CHAOS. CHAOS translates into the ‘Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.’ I understand this conceptually. I do clean my house in a panicked sort of way before certain visits. But, those who visit me regularly know that I have people over regardless of my home's preparedness. You can walk into my house any day of the week and I’ll gladly make you a cup of coffee and sit down with you in the least cluttered area. And, if I have something to offer, you’ll leave with a little banana bread, or a hand-me-down dress for your daughter. If I am making dinner, I’ll pull up a chair so you can talk to me while I finish sautéing the meat and I’ll make sure an extra plate is set for you, but I’ll never, ever tell you not to come in.

And, that got me thinking too.

Dear Flylady, please add an addendum to your excellent book for folks who have these other dysfunctions: "excessive" self-esteem and an "under-developed" sense of shame.

Since I FLY rather well, I considered that I must need to slow down a bit and CRAWL. (No, I shouldn't wear sweatpants and eat Little Debbie cakes, stop thinking it.)

About the same time that I borrowed the Flylady book, a different friend told me how she desperately disliked picking up the toys after her toddler. As soon as she put them away, the child would have them out again.

I explained to her that the goal was not to clean the floor, but to ‘reset’ the child’s activities. A toy on the floor is less likely to be used. So, by ‘resetting’ their toys, you are encouraging additional play, which will improve their overall development and thus is an important part of parenting. In effect, you should feel GOOD when they pull the toys off the shelf, because that is exactly why you (and eventually they) put them there.

So, that is CRAWL. Constantly Resetting Activities With Love.

And then there was CHAOS. I do not have an instinctual need to clean my house. As an example, consider freshly baked bread. Everyone I know loves to have a fresh loaf of bread baking in the oven, and loves eating that bread when it emerges. I consider it well worth my time to make this happen. The time is spread across my day with sessions of rising in between. When that bread emerges, I never question the time I spent baking it. Even when I am cleaning up the last crumbs, I am happy. You may not feel that way, and would be perfectly satisfied with a loaf purchased from the bakery.

I also like to have a clean house. However, at the end of the time necessary to make the clean house emerge, I do not feel that it was time well spent. I am not sufficiently satisfied by the result. However, just like you might take the time to buy a loaf of bread at the store, I would likewise not leave the toilets to their own devices forever.

What I need to do, then, is to replace panic with P.A.N.I.C., Perpetual And Naturally Instituted Cleanliness. I enjoy theorizing far more than cleaning.

Yeah, I know, I could quit blogging and clean instead. But, another friend reminded me that I would probably be so sad that I would start wearing sweats and eating Little Debbie cakes. It just isn't worth the risk.


Indy said...

As someone who sometimes considers herself a flybaby, one important thing that I feel that you missed about Flylady is the peace that comes from not having clutter all around. That is what she is really getting at in her message. That is why I clean and why I try to keep everything in its place. I cannot stand not knowing that my kids have clean socks and jeans for tomorrow. It creates an unbelievable amount of stress for me. I try to prevent it by keeping it all organized. And you are right about baking bread, people do what is important to them. Do what you love and don't worry about others. I know that is how you are. I don't worry about others when it comes to my house. I do it for me and my family.

AreWeThereYet? said...

I like to keep my house rather clean with pockets/areas reserved for my complete chaos. Would the fly lady call me "bipolar" or "manic."

Anonymous said...

That is some serious theorizing. I'd call that MAT -- mopping avoidance theorizing.

I too looked at Fly Lady's website a few years ago, initially found it appealing, but also got turned off for pretty much the same reasons you did. I laughed when I read the Little Debbie Cake part. That bit put me off too, because gluttony isn't my problem, and I didn't then (and still don't) know what the hell a Little Debbie Cake is.