"If the two of you intend to catch a train," said the leader of the marriage preparation course my soon-to-be husband and I took many years ago, "Then one of you will arrive in time to catch the earlier train." He looked around the couples, noting the smug expressions on half the faces. "The other," he continued, "Prefers to give the train a sporting chance."
This has proved to be true in my own marriage. My husband is congenitally early for everything; I am on time – or at least, in time – most of the time. The train rarely gets away.
Tidiness is a similar matter. I love to be tidy. I should adore to be a minimalist. But – I am a hoarder. My hobby is papercraft and, like most crafters, I will confess to having a "stash" far bigger than I could use up in three lifetimes. And yes – of course - I am always buying more! I can tidy up, but within twenty-four hours or less, my study looks as if a hurricane has visited.
Not so the rest of my family. When I was a child my regular punishment was being told to, "Go and tidy your room." With my girls, it would be "Go and untidy your room!" We have a family joke that the bedroom of my eldest is so immaculate it could belong to a potential psychopath. My daughter, who considers "Assassin" to be a perfectly valid career choice, merely smiles like a shark whenever this is mentioned. It is she who said to me, "I know you can get therapy for OCD, but – honestly – why would you want to?" (With apologies to those of you who do suffer with OCD.)
Untidiness and clutter not only offends her, it distresses her. Last Saturday she snapped. "This kitchen is disgusting!" She announced. "It's cluttered, untidy and impossible to clean. I want to do something about it!"
I looked around; she had a point. So, as a loving mother I set to work with her to declutter, reorganise and clean.
Out went the sad begonia on the window sill. Out went the old-fashioned scales with weights I had bought on a whim and never used. Out went the cheap (and unscented) scented candles. We cleared the paper mountain on the side. We culled the mug collection. Everything that could be put away was put away. Then we deep-cleaned the whole room.
The feeling of pride, pleasure and satisfaction was enormous.
"Now," said my daughter, fixing me with a gimlet eye, "We keep it this way!"
And, do you know, this time, we have.
We have rules. All paperwork is to be dealt with each day. All washing up is to be done after every meal. All surfaces are to be clear before bedtime.
Rules and regulations are solace to my daughter's soul, and I enjoy my clean and tidy kitchen.
One room down, several more to go.
We'll leave my study to last.
A Moodscope member.