Friday, January 23, 2009

Fatherhood Fridays: Oddly Organization Orations

Today I want to take a page from a friend’s blog and discuss organization from my quirky perspective. For this blog entry I WAS going to talk about some faith issues in regards to marriage/dads. I’ve decided against that. A friend gave me some good advice, saying I need to be wise about what I include on my blog and … I think that was wise advice so I’m taking it.

Organization. It appeals to a lot of us. And to a lot of guys in particular.

There are a bajillion books, it seems, out there on how to get organized, how to stay organized, take control of your life, etc, etc. Most of it is like so much affluenza or at least smacks of it. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up obsessing over something ELSE which you probably shouldn’t.

However, I always like looking for a good medium solution to problems, trying to avoid the “ends of the spectrum”. How very Hobbit-like of me right?

As a Dad and geek among geeks, I certainly struggle with organization and balancing what I “need” against what I think I “want”. Here is a tad bit of background on my quirky organization illness :)

For years in my marriage I didn’t make clear, my needs for being organized at home. Over the holidays though, and in the midst of making New Year’s resolutions, I got to talk things over with my darling wife. Twas a good gab. She’s so patient with me. And I certainly go to great lengths to not infringe upon what I see as “her territories” in our marriage.

Organizing the house is one of those territories. Why do I think that? OMG I was raised in a house that if the man mentioned something about moving ANYTHING without being asked by a woman .. testicles would roll. So you can see my hesitation to present “new and exciting” ideas.

But our talks were good and I got to keep all things that came “standard” on the Rob-meister.

So after our discussions, I got to clean out beneath the sink while she helped by supervising. No I don’t mean that as a smart-alec either. See, my method of cleaning/organizing, especially in regards to clutter, is much like the old adage, “if you love something set it free, if it comes back to you, it’s yours”. Only mine goes something like, “if you have too much crap throw it all away, and if you really need of those things then buy other ones later”.

I realize that’s not rational. But I’m sane enough to ask for help when I get like that. And thusly, the supervision.

To make a long story longer, we now have a nicely uncluttered area beneath our sink.

Heather moved on to cleaning out cabinets and paring down stuff as we’d done with the sink. Extra bowls, tupperware containers that hadn’t been used in lord knows when, all fell to the purifying power of a good honest cleaning. I’m fairly sure I’ve never wanted her more. So the kitchen took awhile.

Then my wife took a weekend to visit her parents in another state, leaving me and the dog all alone. Well me, the dog, and my burning desire to see less clutter. I was a man possessed. And I made a mondo-big list of things to do. Somehow I kept from renting a U-Haul, filling it, and driving it into a deep lake. I didn’t meet every goal but I got most done for sure and it came out well.

Heather returned home to find that the living room, dining room, 3rd bedroom, our bedroom, and my closet had been revamped, reorganized and really pared down. I took TWO 30 gallon trash bags out of my closet alone just in clothes I didn’t wear anymore but I’d been “saving for later”. Remember my adage? Well, with “my” things I use it with extreme prejudice when I get in a mood like that. So I chucked a lot of clothes figuring I’d get a friend to go shopping with me to pick out new ones someday when the weight loss is over.

As a dad/geek who is also a pretty fine hand at woodworking/building/designing (I have a background in drafting), I also have this runaway desire to turn all walls of our home into bookshelves, nooks, and crannies. But I know that wouldn’t help anything really :)

And this is the dilemma of most guys. If you’re not handy you still have a big desire to “fix it”. It’s what gets a lot of guys in trouble when talking to women, especially their wives. They come to us with problems, we slip into “fix it” mode, design a solution, probably butt-in to solve it … and maybe all they really needed was a bit of listening.

My wife anyway is like that. Sometimes she just needs someone to support her, to “get it”. She doesn’t want “an answer”. She just needs a friend in that moment when her life is cluttered. In those times, it’s important for us guys to remember that sometimes we need to put down the hammer, nails, design pad, level, plumb-bobs, squares, and chalk lines.

Instead try this. Pick up a pillow, sit on the couch and put the pillow in your lap. Let your wife lay her head on it and just let her talk. Don’t interrupt. And while she pours out everything to you, maybe brush her hair or massage her scalp. It’s hard for some guys to do. It’s against our instincts. But we are a strong bunch, we can do it. :)

Sometimes the best thing you build, the best thing you can organize, is your time with those you love.


Jennifer said...

I am an organization freak! I so heart that. Of course, getting that to happen is a whole other topic.... I was in the middle of a clutter panic spasm about five minutes ago in the kids room. Ugh.

Rob said...

I think Heather hopes there is medication for clutter panic, at least for me ;)

Heather said...

Nope, I'm the one who needs a "shot" of organization meds. I promise I'm trying to do better. ;-) Don't give up on me.