Monday, August 01, 2005


The one thing I learned in adulthood is that you cannot know what you don't know. So I do not fault Bush for going to war over WMDs, because he operated on the fact that there were WMDs. There was no way for him to know there weren’t any when every intelligence agency in the world thought Saddam was loaded down with them. Similarly, there was no way to know that my mother was not representative of all mothers. There was no way for me to know that her beautiful – dare I say sacred? - habit of putting everything away and in its place was not replicated across all women over all time.

Marriage necessarily blindsides one. You can feel no guilt at not anticipating what could not be anticipated. Growing up, I thought that kitchen counters preferred an absence of items to such an extent that they emptied themselves of items. I thought that clutter disappeared of its own accord. It did seem a sort of magic: leave a cereal bowl on the counter and within an hour it would disappear. Kreskin could do no better.

But of course it was my mother doing it. That she complained about us leaving stuff about – like paper clippings and rubber bands (I was a paper boy) – seemed like white noise in the background. Static on 45rpm records. Rubber bands? Was she kidding? What is a rubber band here or there among friends? Of course there never was a rubber band here or there among friends because my mom picked it up before it hit the ground. So order in house & garage was taken for granted. Order, like breathing, is only appreciated when it's withheld.

• • • • •

My mother was the same. But she didn't teach me to develop those habits myself. I think she thought I'd absorb it by osmosis.

I regret that I haven't reared my children in a particularly orderly home. I hope they have an appreciation for the beauty of order, but I wish I had been better equipped to live an orderly life and been able to pass it along.

But, as I heard someone say recently, "Regrets are a waste of spirit." Sigh.
Well, on the other hand, you might've done them a favor (my stepson calls that "a solid") if you didn't rear them in an orderly home. If I lived in a less orderly home growing up I'd be more immune to the lack of order now! Desires to some extent follow expectations.
Tom, Tom, Tom. Sometimes I wonder if we weren't separated at birth (except when you nod in the direction of Fr. Greeley). Since this is a secret blog, I'll admit that this is the one thing about my beautiful, loving, dedicated wife that sometimes drives me nuts. She's not messy, per se, except when it comes to the floor.

I'll leave the dishes undone for several days, but she won't. They're on the counter and out of the way, I figures. No problem, we'll get to them soon enough. Just relax, dear, I tell her. But she won't let them sit.

But the floor! -that's another story. People have to WALK on the floor! No one WALKS on the kitchen counter! And in order for people to WALK on the floor, there must be SPACE on the floor, and in order for there to be SPACE on the floor, THERE SHOULD BE NOTHING ELSE BUT FURNITIRE ON THE FLOOR!!!!!!!

Sorry, I think one of my veins just popped.

Seriously, I think I have learned over the years to put this little peeve of mine into perspective. It is as nothing, nothing at all, when it comes to the merits of a good and loving wife and mother.

I have a friend who grew up in a home that was so fanatically neat and tidy she says "it was not fit for human habitation". Not so the Culbreath house!
LOL! Too funny. "Floors were meant for walkin'" as Nancy Sinatra might've sang. I know of what you speak. Like you I've been forced to put things in perspective as Steph is also a wonderful wife and mother and utterly un-nagging. But in our household floors AND kitchen counters are made for storing stuff. Despite that, the cabinents are still always full. My dream is to one day fully close a kitchen cabinent on the first try. I'm a man of modest dreams.
Neat guys matched with casual women. What was God thinking!

It's tough for a woman to be temperamentally untidy because our own and society's expectations are that the woman achieve a Better Homes and Garden while her husband (usually spelled 'hubby') inhales beer from a slouched position on the couch. For me, I not only dealt with frustration (since I prefer things neater than I am inclined to keep them) but with shame and embarrassment for not being able to do even this small thing correctly.

I'm a bit different now, but life is much simplified from the old days.
Wel, I know I to inhale beer from an upright seated position! :-)

Of course it's not like my wife couldn't come up with a litany of pet peeves which I do not fulfil. Isn't that what keeps us on the path of holiness? If I were not lazy she would suffer in her holiness and if she were not untidy I would suffer in mine.
Post a Comment

Desperately Seeking Retirement
..a situational comedy
Atom Feed

Powered By Blogger TM