Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Habits, Cleaning &Cohabitation

Q& I have lived together well over a year now and Little Man has been staying with us on a part-time basis for just about a year. Since Q & I waited almost a year into dating before I even met his son, we also eased into Little Man staying at the house on his weekends with his Dad. It was the right thing for us to do and I think helped build a good relationship of trust for Little Man with me.

In this time, I’m embraced the mess and sometimes grossness of having two boys around, especially a 6 year old little boy who has an endless imagination and levels of creativity that often involve leaving messes around in the form of Lego piles, cardboard boxes, and crayons all about. Don’t get this post wrong– I love every single minute of it. This recovering Type A, organizational, clean freak has embraced the wild fun of having a child in the house, though am teaching him to keep the wild somewhat tame, all the while maintaining important rules of cleanliness like making beds, washing hands, and picking up toys.

And of course, I was married before I met Q, and I have an older brother, so I’m no stranger to the messes that can come with the male gender. And frankly, I lived with 5 girls in college, who though like-minded gals like myself that were relatively clean, we did make our fair share of messes. And I’m sure if Q could chime in here, he would say I have my own peculiar habits as well, though I’m sure he would mostly complain about my long, dark brown hairs appearing just about everywhere.

But there is something about cohabitation and the weird habits of other people that amuses me, as any person who lives with a roommate or significant other can attest. Why does a person dry their hands with paper towels and then leave it on the counter when the trash is only a cabinet away? Why does a little boy leave small Lego pieces in each room like Hansel and Gretel’s crumb path? There probably is some deep psychological reason for any of these things, laziness/forgetfulness probably being one of the traits. Again, I do weird things too like leaving my glasses in the most random spots that I think are handy– and of course, 10 minutes later being baffled as to where they are and why the heck did I leave them there?

A friend frequently complains about the lack of help she gets around the house from her family when it comes to cleaning and how angry it makes her. I spent a good deal of my time when I was married trying to get my ex-husband into the same cleaning mindset I had– it was a futile effort that only made me frustrated and bitter. Sidenote: it was not the reason why we divorced, but often the bigger issues are played out in the most mundane things. The point being– I wasn’t going to change him. I could teach him better ways to be organized or clean the way I thought was best, but in the end, it left me frustrated and doing double the work anyway because my overachiever self thought that things were better my way.

One of the lessons of the divorce was that people cannot change who they essentially are. Habits can change, but human behavior on what a person believes or wants often cannot. My entire relationship with Q has been based on this idea– I take him for who he is and he takes me for what I am. Do I hate it that most of his clothes live in a pile on the bench in our room? Sure, but he’s an adult who does his own laundry and confines his mess to the spot he has designated as his own. If we have company coming over, he throws it into his side of the closet and deals with it after. I don’t pick up after him and he doesn’t pick up after me. I take it for what it is and don’t passive aggressively take it out on him or see it as a reflection of how he feels about me, our house, or family. It’s just dishes- the world won’t end if I don’t do them within an hour of using them.

The long and short of this is- don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s just dust/trash/soap scum/mess. We’re human, we’re weird, and I’ll never try to understand it. I’ll just keep throwing the darn paper towels in the trash!


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