Friday, February 28, 2014

A rod for my own back

This is an expression I heard from time to time when we lived in Australia.  It took me a while to understand it, and I am still not really sure how to explain it.

Here is an example of how it is used   "to do something that is likely to cause problems for you in the future People say that if you let your baby sleep in your bed with you for the first few months, you're just making a rod for your own back."

Another way to think about it is, creating your own work by not expecting or allowing others to do it.  Teaching people how to treat you.

I often feel like I do it all.  I know, intellectually, I don't.  But I feel that I see a lot of the things that need to be done and those things are not even seen or cared about by anyone but me.

I grew up in chaos.  Our home was mostly tidy and clean, so I don't mean a hoarder's chaos.  But there was emotional turmoil, which is, after all a form of chaos.  I never knew if I was going to be spanked, or why.  I couldn't be sure I looked right- was my hair brushed.  Was my dress, or play outfit clean.  Did I have clean nails.   I was never right.  Never stood straight enough, or sat tall enough.  We were all tense.  All the time.

When I danced my little girl ballet dances in the living room, wearing my pink tights and black leotard,  my dad would yell "Damn it Ruth, does she have to dance around here like that?  She's half naked".  So I had to go change out of my light, happy sprite of myself and be a good girl.  In good girl clothes.

I think that cleaning house was the one thing my mom felt that she could do well.  It was her job and she was good at it.  We did chores too like washing dishes and occasionally running the vacuum cleaner.  I remember my job was cleaning the bathrooms.  I liked that because I made everything sparkle.

I think when your life is so  out of control, making something shine, even if it is just a faucet handle, you feel accomplished.

I cleaned houses for other people- for money- when I was in high school.  I did a great job, I got paid, and I got out of the house.

Now, my problem in my here and now life.  The rod for my own back.   I do too much.  I care too much.  I want the house to shine and sparkle and make me feel proud.

I have virtually no time in the house alone.  That's when I would clean if I had a chance.   When I try to clean when I am not alone, one of two things happens.  Either one of the guys will step over the dirt and ignore it.  Or they will try to help.  

If you want to help me, do one of the many other jobs that need to be done.  Don't help me sweep the kitchen floor when I have it under control.   I have played the "Mommy can I help you" game with all of our kids.  But they were encouraged, even when I knew that they would make it worse.  They felt needed and important and they learned something.  You know how to sweep and clean.  I'm not your mommy trying to teach you.   This is a huge, seven bedroom house.  There are lots of parts of the house that need your help getting clean.

Ok, now understand.  I am not saying that you cannot clean the kitchen.    Just tell me and I will get out of your way.  This of course involves wiping down all of the surfaces; stove top; kitchen counters; Kitchen table, sweeping and mopping the floor.  Oh, and cleaning the inside of the mircowave.

My own study is a mess.  It bothers me, but it is all MY mess.  I can take care of it all.   Most of the stuff on the various tables in the house, is not mine.

I try to fix things. I try to track down orders for shoes that have not arrived in Richmond.  I try to figure out Chance's prescription info so he can get a better price.

I make sure the bills are paid- to the best of my ability with what I have.  Utilities; gas; water; electricity; trash, cable and internet.   Tuitions  and allowances and rents and house payments.  Car insurance.  Maintenance of three of the cars.  Or I suspect they would never get their inspections done and their oil changed.

At bed, when I am lying and tossing and turning I am thinking of all I have before me in the morning.  Laundry.  Wiping the streaks off the counter tops.   It keeps me awake.

I know that my family, who I am living with, care.  Not that they are bad people.  They just really don't understand.  They don't see with my eyes.

I know for the most part it is just the family laziness.  Nobody feels stress over the fact that the carpets have not been cleaned since around Christmas time   Nobody but me that is.  Sometimes I get made fun of bu my family.  How rude

Yup, it is after 5:00 am now.  I should be warm in my bed knowing that I won't be coming down to last weeks newspaper spread all over the kitchen table.  

Okay, now I am thoroughly exhausted.  Maybe I will be able to fall asleep without thinking/ dreading what the morning brings!

If I weren't here.  Sick in the hospital, traveling, spending a few days with my sister maybe,would my absence be noticed and noted?  Would the table tops get dusted?  Would the floors be swept, mopped and would there be gunk in the microwave, and junk on the tables.   Ok, my meter is running out and I am about to shut off

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