Saturday, February 27, 2010

Not Compatible

In college, I always managed to live in basically what amounted to Grand Central Station. Lots of roommates, someone always sleeping somewhere in the apartment, someone always cooking something in the apartment, someone always drunk, someone always hungover. Always people to hang out with.

Occasionally I had a roommate that I was not compatible with. This was usually (always?) because of that person's lack of cleanliness. I liked things orderly. I could handle the crowds and the chaos and the noise and the lack of privacy and the drama and the parties and the steady stream of people in and out (in fact, I loved most of those things) as long as a mop was shoved across the floor and the toilets scrubbed out on a regular basis.

When I came across someone that was a pig hard to live with, it was nice to know that living arrangements would be changing up again. And soon. College was one fluid motion of classes and new apartments and seasons changing and moving and new roommates. I could endure anyone, for it was never longer than a year before I had a chance to opt-out of any given living arrangement.

As you can imagine, my need for cleanliness has not lessened since getting married and having kids. However, babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children tend to reek havoc on my nice, tidy ideals.

And I have lowered my standards, quite a few times, since becoming a mother.

I feel like I've now reached the rock-bottom for how low I'm willing to go. Living with these other four humans drives me INSANE. Not a single one of them gives two shits about being even the littlest bit tidy.

Joan and Kate leave a tidal wave of dirty dishes, wrappers, scraps of paper, little bits of broken toys, crumbs, crushed food bits, sticky spills, pee drips, muddy footprints, peeled-off socks, dirty laundry, crushed/torn school projects, discarded napkins, and grime in the wake. Marin is following in their footsteps.

David is guilty in that he doesn't see any of their messes, and if he does, he doesn't DO anything about any of it. He helps me clean, sure, but he does the bare minimum- vacuums only the most obvious places, takes out the recycling only when it's towering near the ceiling, and has never organized a single, solitary aspect of our home in 11 years of co-habitation.

If this were college, I'd clean like a fool and placidly tell myself that next year will be different.

But I can't do that anymore. I have to live with these people for the unforeseeable future, and the thought of their never ending messes... well, I can only think about it with despair. I love these people deeply and desperately, and yet I cannot stand wading through their junk.

I've tried, and am trying, to teach the children- and, as it turns out, the husband- how to clean up after themselves. I don't "allow" them to throw their garbage around. And yet, they all still do. So, I make them pick it up. But their definition of "picked up" and mine are very different, and no amount of training is helping to improve the situation.

I am simply not compatible with my housemates. What do I do now?


Swistle said...

Dude, I know. And I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Beats the shit out of me.

Hit the lottery and buy the house next door for you to live in solo and leave them to their own messes?

Marie Green said...

Shelly- that is almost my EXACT fantasy right now! I want my own little cottage- it would be simple, fresh, clean, sunny, and full of fresh flowers and finger print-free windows/mirrors. The kids could come and look through the door, but not enter unless it was their birthday or I needed them to fetch me something. I'd spend lots of time visiting/being with them here, in their filth. But whenever it started to get to me, I'd go back to my own sanctuary.

Um, not that I've put any thought into the details or anything. AHEM.

Sahara said...

They are like little animals, for sure. I think I am more persnickety than most about tidiness, which means I'm basically unhappy about the state of our house ALL THE TIME. Chose the wrong life, indeed.

Marie Green said...

Sahara- that's just it... I don't want to let it bug me, but it does, SO MUCH. I need aesthetically pleasing surroundings, or at the very least, tidy, or my brain rebels!

Sunny said...

OMG- I am SOOOO right there with you hun.....I sometimes have daydreams of having a huge Duplex with my side and hubbys side.

Erica said...

I say you get them their own apartment and let them all live like animals until they either learn the error of their ways or turn feral. Whatev.

Seriously, though, I think that those of us who are on the tidier side of things will forever be martyred and have to clean up after the apes, er, people with live with. No matter what you do, your husband will NEVER EVER EVER see the messes that are patently obvious to a normal human being, er, you.

However, the bright side is that your girls are still trainable.

Emily said...

Back when I had lots of roommates, we came up with this theory of the "Cleanliness Threshold." How everyone has a point at which something is dirty enough for them to a)notice it and b) do something about it. And I do believe that ON AVERAGE, men have a higher threshold (meaning it takes more mess to register) than women. Then we go and live together for the rest of our lives.

AND the Children. I never in my wildest dreams imagined how much continuous mess those little beings could create. And it seems hopeless, 'cuz it's not like there are bunches of clean freak teenagers, right? (come to think of it, at what age do we become tidy if we're going to be?)

Jess said...

Incentives? No weekly allowance, or whatever, unless things are clean to YOUR standards, not theirs?

I don't know. Good luck!

Seester said...

and you want me to come live with you? i would drive you just as nuts as David cuz I wouldn't notice either. Maybe you should be one of those families that has a "formal living room" and the kids have their play room (the attic) and none of their crap can trickle down to the formal living room where you are busy having tea time and sitting on your plastic covered davenport.

Only kidding here seester, but really your house is always clean. I don't even know what your talking about when you say its messy.

Marie Green said...

Seester- my house is clean because I CLEAN IT before you come for a visit.
And for the record, we don't even have plastic on our lampshades, so there!

I think the point I didn't articulate well is that it's one thing to live with one's OWN messes.... it's the living with EVERY ELSE'S mess that is making me crazy lately.