Friday, March 6, 2009

confessions of a pathological (or pathetic?) Hausfrau

I am not a good Hausfrau, and for a German, that's really saying something! I think I'm a good wife & mother, decent cook, and keep the house reasonably presentable -- hey, at least it's not a pigsty!
Sometimes I dream of living in a clean & orderly house that always looks inviting, "gemuetlich" -- you know, like in the magazine pictures (warm colors, freshly fluffed pillows, shiny wood floors bathed in sunshine), but alas, I just somehow can't really get my head around the "Good Housekeeping"! Hey, that would mean I'd have to spend my time actually keeping house, and I admit, I hate doing housework.

I sometimes wish that together with all the other German traits I inherited, I'd have ended up with the Hausfrau gene, but it must be recessive!

I try, honestly I try.
I probably own more self-help books on organizing than Martha Stewart, and spend more time reading these books than I actually spend on actual organizing.

Much of my lack of getting housework done is that there are so many more things I'd rather do.... And I also admit that I have a problem with TOO Much Stuff : "One (wo)man's trash is another (wo)man's treasure" as the old saying goes -- I still haven't figured out what all I may still need/want to do with the stuff (variously known as clutter, junk, memories, potential crafting materials, treasures -- you get the idea!).

Luckily this is not a pathological problem -- rest assured (there are no roaches, and the house is not so full of stuff to be a fire hazard). When push comes to shove, I can and do whirl through the house and straighten things out before guests come (luckily I don't suffer overly from CHAOS: Can't Have Anybody Over Syndrome). Rather, I manage to keep the most public areas reasonably clean: kitchen & bathrooms are usually presentable, and I even manage to keep the entryway and living/dining rooms looking decent most of the time, but woe to anyone who has to deal with the clutter on my desk or nightstand, the sewing room, or find something in the garage or the many "junk" drawers & corners.

It's not even that I'm all that lazy: I'm just too BUSY. I'm reasonably hard-working, and I seem to always be busy with SOMETHING. In some ways, my problem is that I'm too creative: I want to create something, and cleaning seems so, well, uncreative!

I love to solve problems, so I can get all excited about a new organizing system, spend hours designing it, sorting all the stuff that will go into the new storage, and then never actually follow through and PUT IT ALL AWAY. It's like I lose the "Umph" somewhere along the line, and I go and start a new project, or work in my garden, or start a new quilt, or cook a new recipe, or check on my compost (worm bin), or blog about it...

That sounds a bit ADD, doesn't? But I don't think I suffered from ADD during my academic life (I did quite well, actually) -- my focusing problem seems to be restricted to just the housework. Is there a term for that -- perhaps Housework-Attention Deficit Disorder?

I don't mean to make fun of ADD. In fact, I recently read a book by Lynn Weiss, called Attention Deficit Disorder In Adults: A different Way of Thinking. I found it very interesting: eye-opening in fact. Her thesis is that we all have different brainstyles, some more "linear", while others (ADD) focus more on the "big picture" (patterns, relationships), but that neither is inherently better. In fact, it nearly seems like an East-West dichotomy! The author asks people to stop thinking of ADD as a "disability", and embrace who they are and understand how their brain works, as to find ways of better negotiating life's many challenges...
I'm now reading another book by her about creativity -- again there are common themes where creative people tend to have a far less linear brainstyle. Author Lynn Weiss actually jokes about linear people having CDD Creativity Deficit Disorder.

So back to my bad housekeeping dilemma -- I'm finding that I need to learn to accept how/what works for me, and put my brainstyle to good use at home. I'm very linear in some aspects of my life when I have to (science, finances, etc), but when it comes to home & creativity, I find that I'm wanting to take it all in as a big picture -- but maybe I forget that it would help to break things into smaller pieces if I ever want to get anything done!

The question I ask myself is this: how important is it to have that "Good Housekeeping" seal of approval? I'll probably never live in a magazine-picture-perfect home (only in my dreams), but I would enjoy less clutter -- it's easier to be creative and happy when I'm not having to rummage through too much junk.
One of my fantasies is to "magically" get to start over with a clean and empty house, and force myself only to move in with what I truly need or wanted to keep (there's no rush: I could take my time), and then not have to worry about what happens to the rest of the stuff -- because if I were in charge of taking the stuff to the dump or Goodwill, I'm afraid I'd probably end up returning with half of it "just in case"... pathetic, isn't?


honeypiehorse said...

Nice Hausfrau picture! I personally don't know any Hausfrauen that actually look like that. Including me, I keep it to the minimum. I'm not too bad about throwing stuff out, though. I like the term 'CDD' a lot.

dustybee said...

Loved this bit! Hard to be the perfect Hausfrau when one is busy just living life!!! Thank goodness our priorities has changed over the years... loved the mag covers though!