'Twas the Week Before Christmas
The Mixed Blessings of an Organizational Visit
by linda wellner md
Unfortunately the incredible volume of reading and writing I have
been able to do in the past year is sorely mismatched to my skills in home organization.
The chores of Chicken Woman recently came home to roost, when I was forced to pick up the
papers and books and all the other "needed informational tidbits" that I had
been collecting for my writings.
Why? I hope you are asking why I had to pick them up off the floor,
not why I had to collect them.
Simple: the MomUnit was coming to spend the night.
Without my asking, she volunteered to serve as a babysitter and to
help me to finish decorating the Christmas tree before Valentine's Day. And here I had
been so proud of myself for already getting a tree in the house and up in its stand. After
all, it was almost a week before Santa would need a tree!
"Who says it needs to be decorated, Mom?" screams my
oldest son from his seat in front of my computer now located in the spare room upstairs
where he has now been glued for two days.
Tai Chi tiptoes through the bedroom: My bedroom floor resembles my writing, i.e. all connected and organized for
all to see so long as they can step around the piles. I hardly knew where to start picking
I had a friend visit last week for the first time. She did not even
notice anything on my floor. She walked without guidance, and was extremely comfortable in
all the "chaos," thus proving once more that chaos is in the eyes of the
I wonder what my new friend's bedroom floor looks like? Rolling on
floor laughing as I imagine it. Hey, that's a reason to have space open on one's floor, so
there is more room to roll!
As I navigate through, I practice "tai chi walking",
always mindful of my centered balanced tan tien, breathing and shifting weight smoothly
without placing the foot onto any "item" and whispering the word
"grasshopper" to my third ear as I pretend to walk unnoticed across miles of
rice paper or burning coals. I become rooted within my balanced state. I never permit
myself to think about what things are becoming rooted to my floor beneath all the piles.
But this day, I did consider the piles because I did not want to
upset my Mom. She is very organized at her home, and besides she would fall over after one
step in my room. Tai Chi walking is not her specialty.
Once she wrote me a birthday card that went something like this:
My daughter is very successful. She is popular, intelligent, rich and everyone loves her.
When I am out, I always agree with everyone about how terrific she is! AFTER ALL; WHO IS
TO SEE HER CLOSET?
I know I saved that card. It is somewhere in some box in some
closet, (probably with my original Big Picture of the Krebs Cycle Buzzwords that got me
through biochemistry in medical school) and will reveal itself by the time I have bouncing
hyperkinetic- hypermental grandchildren who will find it for me!
As to my bedroom, I had to pick everything up off the floor. Knowing
that my Mom would arrive exactly at her stated time of 1pm, I knew that I would have to
play sick from teaching Sunday School to get everything properly shoved into closets
before she arrived. Fortunately, the other teacher had already planned the lesson.
I also have four closets within easy access to my bedroom. Two of
the four have been vacated, so there is some available stuffing space. This thought was
comforting until I remembered the unwrapped presents were now hidden in those closets.
Closets are usually a safe hiding place for me since neither of my
children ever open a closet door voluntarily. As for my MomUnit, I am certain she would
never risk opening a closet in my house for fear something would fall on her head.
It strikes me funny that my sister worries about the MomUnit looking
into her Georgia closets. I think that my Sister's closets are very well organized. I do
not understand all the fussing over them, because if she knew what my closets were
like...well, heaven only knows! My mom has always seemed to be a different mom to my
sister, or perhaps just has learned what cannot be organized is just better off ignored.
My Brother does not even own a closet. He uses a garage and he lives
in the adjoining closet that he calls his bedroom.
Table tops and mystery rooms: My Mom will not even walk into my "dining" room. Half of my
youngest son's Legos are under the table with the other half of his Ultramagnum set of
Knex and all mixed together with half of the pieces to the 3D puzzle of The White House
which was too boring to complete.
I have tried many times to organize the space under my dining table.
I went to Sam's Club to purchase (three hours and six month's salary later)
"organizationalmemorabilia" whatever. I was ready.
But then I found the one missing piece to the Where's Waldo? puzzle
that we did last Christmas/New Years. This had been a great find but I knew if I followed
my desires to reconstruct the unfinished puzzle that my life as I knew it would be over.
Out came the dusty puzzle for the celebration. It turned out to be stashed under the ugly
mouse-gray "sofa" that was left behind by the coparent because it did not match
his sense of decor.
Under this couch was also the missing address book from Battle of
the Christmas Cards session that took place on this very day two years before. I was lost.
I was also found, because I forgot about the puzzle and just moved on.
Then "fear" set in. Mom would arrive sooner than later. My
bedroom floor alarm sounded. I should just drop the term "bedroom" now and tell
the truth. Since I have not slept there too much in the recent past I have stopped calling
it my "bedroom". But I like to think that I am now back on track and back to bed
(says she who is writing this at 2am!!).
My older son says this; "Mom, you should just dump everything
that you own on your floor, and THEN you will know where to start". This sounds
"intuitively logical" to me, but it really does NOT work that way.
A Wondering Mind: Of course, my mind wonders in many directions. What to do, where to start! In
addition, double of course I think about not so obvious connections. The analogy with
where to start is also just like writing for a website...as though one would need to have
the Big Picture AND all the outlines before the parade begins. Forget it! Cyberspace is
ideally suited to leaping brains because of web links. Besides, you do not have to walk on
Even more significant is that my Mom will not "touch a
computer" because she thinks that they are ruining all her grandchildren.
I imagine what it would be like if we could just change places for a
day. I would be the MomUnit and she would be the "successful" daughter with all
the stuff going on, piles growing on all floors and nor room for hiding in the closet.
What would I (now being the Momunit) do? Panic could set in!
Well, to make a long story short, I would do exactly what my Mom
did. I would bring dinner with her, a vase of flowers, a Christmas decoration gift for her
daughter, smiles and hugs and pie for my kids, custom made blinders for herself, a
soothing Christmas CD by Kenny G, her own library book, a nerve pill, and an extra dose of
organizational skills. She would not look at my closet or attempt to step foot into my
dining room. She would be accompanied by my very patient step-father who would spend the
next six hours putting together the too many parts to the six month old computer desk that
blocked passage to my hidden stash of dustbuster filters.
The tree would be trimmed and the decorations appropriately placed.
I would record the Christmas music on cassette for use in their minivan. A bottle of
champagne would be chilled for later, after I have gone to my Annual Christmas Dinner with
my partners and their spouses. I would be on time for once. I am grateful to my MomUnit.
In addition, I am grateful for my Step-Father Unit who keeps her happy.
Not exactly the same as Tiny Tim, but as perceptive, my oldest son
says; "Mom, is curling her hair, it is quiet, the floor is clean and she is going to
a Christmas party. Thank you Lord"!
And I say get well, live long and prosper, and "God bless us
one and all", too!