Thursday, February 6, 2014
The Child Within
I chose this silly picture of me dressing up as a kitty for Halloween to share my feelings about having fun. You see, when I was younger, it was all about the house. Making sure every item was in place. Every dish washed, every bed made, every crumb picked up. It was so bad, when my boys were small, and they'd touch my glass table tops with their chubby little hands, immediately the Windex would pop out, and the indelible smear of their youth would forever be wiped away.
Oh, how I wish I'd have treasured those times more. The chaos of the boys' toys strewn all over a room, piles of matchbox cars, scads of plastic superhero figurines. A half-eaten candy bar, a can of pop with most of its contents still sloshing around.
I was a cleaning fanatic, you see. Not because I loved it, or wanted to be that way. Something happened in my youth that forever imprinted my brain with the picture of a perfectly clean house.
My friend Diane and I were watching cartoons on a Saturday morning, sharing our stories of boys we liked, sharing our dreams of the future. We were only nine years old, a time when kids should be thinking of fun and silliness. It was a serious time for me though, as my mother had been hospitalized. My dear Nonna, my grandma, lived next door, and was caring for me then. When through the front door, burst Aunt Hilda, my mom's elderly, cranky aunt, who always carried such an air of meanness about her.
Aunt Hilda proceeded to pick apart everything that was wrong with my parents house. Dishes were unwashed, so she said. The beds, unmade, and get upstairs and clean that bathroom! I couldn't understand why she was so angry. Shutting off the cartoons, and bidding my friend, Diane, goodbye, I trudged with a heavy heart to see what the fuss was about. Aunt Hilda belittled me to a point I'd never forget. Clean, clean, clean! Grow up! With the threat that she'd return to check on my progress, I'd had my first lesson in housekeeping. But with it, came a price. Ever after, I'd clean to the point of obsessiveness.
When my mom first came home from the hospital, I didn't tell her. It would be years before I revealed this story to her.
I think that's why, at this point in my life, as an older woman, I've learned to have fun. Let my hair down so to speak. I don't feel guilty any longer about a few dishes in the sink, a crumb on the counter. I'm a great housekeeper, don't get me wrong, but on a day off, I'd rather continue writing my stories, reading a good book, watching an awesome movie, and crocheting for comfort. And on the occasion of Halloween, Christmas and Easter, yes, you'll see my acting like a child, behaving like a silly young girl just for the fun of it. I still love parades, I love playing pretend with my little nieces. I can kick back without any television or noise and be still. To know what it is truly like to enjoy blissful moments of relaxation.