From Mother to Daughter

I spend a lot of time these days thinking about what I might be passing on to my daughter without even knowing it. I would definitely prefer it if she was more like her father, who I feel is better than me in almost every sense there is. I’m exaggerating a bit, but unfortunately it’s more true than I’d like it to be. His favorite moments are when I say “you are so much more intelligent than me” (which happens from time to time). Then he holds his hand out, like he’s holding an invisible microphone and is interviewing me, and with a gigantic smile he says “I won’t forget you said that”. And he never does, of course.

One of the things my mother passed on to me, and that I’m cursing every day, is my need for everything to be clean around me. I cannot stand dirt, and to have stuff lying around everywhere. A dirty kitchen can have me go out of my mind. When my anxieties get bad, I can feel it on my need to clean, and on the effect a messy apartment can have on me. As I clean and clean, and never feel like things can get clean and shiny enough, the tension rises as my hands scrub even harder, and the nervousness reaches its peak before I explode in tears of rage and frustration.

As a little girl I used to clean my room thoroughly from time to time. Well, actually, that is a big understatement. I used to remove every single object from my room until my desk, every drawer, even my mattress was out, and then I would scrub everything before putting everything back in its place. I suppose this doesn’t sound so bad in itself, but if you keep in mind that I was nine or ten it becomes a bit too much. Children are supposed to play, not clean excessively.

It’s obvious that I use cleaning as a way of gaining some sort of control, but this control I think I gain is no more than an illusion. I especially don’t like the fact that I use cleaning to get out of doing other more important stuff, like writing or playing an instrument. I’ve come to look at this cleaning urge to be an extremely powerful anti-creative force in my life, and I would love for it to be toned down. But it’s difficult.

At home it’s what makes me and my partner argue the most. He’s messy, and I’m not. He doesn’t care, I care too much. It’s the source of a lot of yelling and name calling. Therefore I’ve started to work on my ability to accept a certain level of disorder. Let the “dust bunnies” lie another day, let the kitchen stay dirty until tomorrow etc etc, and I’ve become better at letting go and just breathe through it. If my mum wanted to spend her time ironing everyones jeans it doesn’t mean that I have to do the same. She was also the person to tell me that “no, you don’t have to clean your apartment EVERY week, it’s ok to relax a bit”. So there. What shock. I didn’t expect that one coming.

A lot of the people I respect artistically are very messy people, and it makes sense to me that they’re messy. How can you follow a train of thought, or concentrate on creating something when you worry about the dirty dishes all the time?

It will be interesting to see what she picks up and what she doesn’t. I would like her to help out at home, set the table, clean her room, fold her clothes when she goes to bed, but I hope she doesn’t inherit the obsessive compulsive sides I have to my personality. I hope she becomes happy, relaxed, messy, and playful and that she feels that she deserves to spend time doing what she loves the most.


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