Here’s the thing, according to the various home design magazines my house is poorly decorated. During the week, very little is in its place, laundry sits on a table in the family room until I have time to put it away, my children leave a trail of their shoes, jackets, roller blades, helmets and general sports gear leading from the front door to the family room. You might find dishes in the sink, clean dishes not put away, never-the-less not magazine perfect. All of my furniture is either hand-me-downs, antiques (not even mine – belong to my mother-in-law) and thrift store deals. The odd time I’ve found some energy and repainted a table or two, it’s a rare occasion, furniture usually comes as is in my house.
I don’t get Martha Stewart’s magazine but I do get Canadian Style At Home magazine, a Christmas gift from a good friend, orders a subscription for me every year. I really like the magazine but there was a time my husband would cringe when he saw the magazine in the pile of mail. He would see me flipping through the beautiful pages and sure enough I would start not being as happy with my surroundings, I’d want this change, this needs to be painted, I really want the old kitchen out and a new Ikea kitchen in and then try to figure out how we could afford it all. When reality set in that I couldn’t afford it, I’d go about my business as usual until the next month and then I would start my rant all over again. There have been times when the magazine inspired me to do good things but mostly I would focus on the things I didn’t have rather than be thankful for what I did have. Somewhere along the line it all changed and I think I know precisely the time the change occurred. I’ve written about the time with my mother while she was sick with Alzheimer’s in Connections, it was during this time and her death that the changes in me took place. My mother was always incredibly fussy about her house, she cleaned like a mad woman. When I was a teenager she worked full-time and cleaned all weekend. She would be really bitchy if things weren’t in order and weekends could just be a drag. One of the first things I noticed wrong with my mother, before Alzheimer’s was diagnosed, was that she stopped doing housework and didn’t seem to care about cleaning at all. As we realized her condition and we were living in the same city, I would split my time between cleaning my place and running over to her apartment to clean her place as well. In between all that my husband was working midnight shift, I was working day shift, and juggling the boys. Phew – stopped breathing just thinking about how stressful those days were. The point to all of this is that my mom was so particular about her house now fast forward to her funeral and people talked about how kind-hearted she was, nice person she was and how funny she was, but not one person mentioned how clean or nice her house was! The thought struck me on the plane ride coming home from the funeral, I thought I’m worried that I might have a lot of housework, who cares. From that day forward I’ve been different, it’s not like I let my house get out of control but I don’t feel the same pressing need to have everything perfect. It’s an exhausting thing being perfect, Martha Stewart must be unconscious from exhaustion. For me I try to get my boys and husband to do more to help me, but no more do I worry about everything being picked up every single minute, can’t do it. Hopefully, when I die my children will have so many fond memories and I hope they forget my perfect always tense stage and remember all the smiles and laughs we had.