This TMI Tuesday post is about life skills! This one is totally safe for work as there is no images or even explicit descriptions…but I may swear. If this doesn’t interest you, do come back tomorrow for your regularly scheduled random fatty talk right here on my blog-a-ma-thing. Thanks! <3
Sometimes things from your childhood hit you from out of nowhere in adulthood. I don’t really like when this happens, but what can ya do? I do find that once I have addressed or acknowledged it that it can help me process/self-work and move on. Yes, our childhoods shape us in ways we can’t truly know the depth of, but I also think that acknowledging this can help us move ahead and develop better futures for ourselves. I can only speak of my own experiences, of course. It amazes me how people we know, even if they grew up similarly, how very different their experiences can be from my own.
I was having lunch with two good friends the other day when we started to talk about housekeeping. Some of us are neat freaks, others are tidy with a side of clutter and then there is me: clueless! Seriously! Talking to these ladies made me realize, though I’d had an inkling for awhile, that I grew up with few actual normal life skills. Specifically when it comes to cleaning one’s home. No one showed me or taught me how to do such things growing up and I have suffered from this ignorance.
You see, I grew up in a very messy house. Well, that’s not quite it. Hmm…I grew up in a disgusting and filthy home. We lived in the same duplex for ten years. We moved there a few months before my fourth birthday…or was it my fifth? Anyway, my dad worked retail and thus his hours were always in flux. My mom stayed home in bed, literally. She pretty much just sat in bed and read books all day. She would occasionally bake and almost always burn whatever it was she was baking. I see now that she was most likely suffering from severe depression if not undiagnosed bi-polar. But she wouldn’t clean the house or do dishes and only ever did laundry when it was an absolute necessity. Though the first couple of years we lived there we didn’t have a dryer and I do remember “helping” her hang the laundry on a line in our miniscule backyard.
It is difficult to describe the state of our home. Basically, there was a pathway to walk from room to room, but outside of that there was clothing, trash-mostly paper, random things like toys or shoes and all sorts of other nonsense. It’s still not quite what I remember, but you get the gist I hope. My room was a disaster, always. Laundry never went into drawers or closets and I don’t recall where clean stuff even went…just that I would often grab from whatever was on the top layer of the mass pile that was my room, basically. It is with some lingering shame that I admit to having to wear socks and even underwear more than once or twice in a row. I know that I was little and didn’t know any better and my parents weren’t exactly aware of it, but I learned very young to stop asking for things, so I probably just didn’t want a fuss. Boy how this way of thinking still fucks with me to this very day. I work on it constantly, but I have a very hard time asking for anything, especially help.
I think my dad cooked dinner more often than not, unless he was working late. Each parent, I think, did only the dishes required for that particular meal and it’s consumption. Our sink was always full of dirty dishes and our counters, well, I don’t know that I ever saw our counters as they, too were full and covered always. The few times we did a big cleaning bonanza it was always because of something bad. The landlord was coming over or a threat of eviction or whatever. Never a good reason, ever ! Because of this I struggle with bouts of high anxiety anytime my husband wants to spring clean or move furniture around…which is often. It is only recently that I figured out why that is. It helps to know, but the anxiety is still there and quite heavy.
Growing up I was never allowed to have friends over and honestly wouldn’t want to eventually as I soon saw how different everyone else’s houses were. My best friend from K-6th grade, Riana, never even saw the inside of my home all of those years. I spent nearly every day at her house a few blocks away. I would never say why, just that my mom didn’t want anyone over or a million other excuses. I see how sad that is now, how much shame I’ve carried with me all of these years. Ugh! When we did do a massive cleaning one time, due to an eviction threat no doubt, I did have my friend Summer over to spend the night once. This was shortly before we moved out of that house and I’d just gotten a kitten…well, found a kitten, long story. But I remember the house being pretty clean, though not to my current standards.
When we moved to a new house that my dad was trying to actually buy, we kept the place pretty nice. We had smaller stashes of clutter, but the floors were open and clean because the house was also being shown to possible buyers. That was a nightmare, actually. I finally had my own room though and I kept it pretty damned tidy. The only clutter was in my closet and we got rid of most of what would have been clutter during the move. I had friends over all of the time and I loved that. I actually felt a sense of pride in my room and home. It was a new feeling, but a good one! And I snuck boys in my room…but don’t tell my dad! Ha-ha!!!
So, you can imagine that when I moved out with my abusive boyfriend later that these life skills, such as cleaning/cooking/laundry, were basically non-existent. I was depressed most of the time and though working full time at 16, everything else sort of fell to the wayside. I did my own laundry…but not much else. That time of my life was sort of a limbo anyway. Living in one room and all, it wasn’t like there was much to clean anyhow. Work was a refuge from the abuse and depression and I spent a good chunk of my paycheck on clothes and accessories there anyway.
When my husband and I moved in together, well, I didn’t tell him about how I grew up. Or it never came up? I don’t really know. I know that we had next to nothing and I went to what is now Big Lots every week to buy more necessities. I learned to do dishes, though we still do them differently from one another. I still put all of my laundry, yes mixed, into a cold wash and a hot dryer. I don’t iron. I dusted for the first time in my life about two months ago when I discovered a Swiffer Duster unopened in our closet. It was like magic! We do vacuum at least once a week if not more due to the Puggyman and his double coat of fur love.
We’re neither neat-nicks nor slobs. I’m the queen of clutter, but it’s manageable. Right now my biggest issue is clothes as one of my dresser drawers in broken and thus a pile has been placed beside it. I am working on folding laundry rather than shoving it. It’s still a struggle. My childhood still haunts me when I least expect it. I know now that my parents should never have had children…in my opinion! They got married because of me and well, they should have sought the unpopular solution at the time. My dad worked and worked and had neither the time nor the energy for much more. Though his weekend-ish days off were fab as he would take us to parks. I don’t have a terrible childhood, just a different one than most. While my school chums would worry about their mom “killing them” for scuffed shoes or stained shirts, I never felt such pressures. For the most part my parents let me do as I want in some ways. I sought a life outside of my home out of necessity. I hardly regret that. But it is a different thing entirely when one was never shown or taught how to clean a bathroom or carpet.
These simple life skills we all take for granted I have struggled with my entire life to catch up in some way. It always seemed an unimportant thing when I’d rather be at a concert or kissing boys. I am far from a domestic goddess. I enjoy cooking and baking now, but I fought that for years, too. I almost wore my ignorance in these things as a badge of honor for awhile. No longer! With every new skill I toss out such old ways of thinking and press onward and hopefully upward and beyond the shame and guilt of old. It may be worth mentioning that my little brother and sister, now in their twenties, didn’t grow up quite the same way as I did. They had chores to tend to and were made to do homework. I was asked if I did my homework and my only chore was taking out the garbage. Though I suffered through catechism while they did not. It was just very different, though we lived together. I don’t know that I will ever know why.
But I know that I can’t be the only one. And it is because of this that I bare my soul here for you to read. Thank you.
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