Friday, April 26, 2013

My Inner Control Freak is Freaking

Last week, I wrote about a sprained ankle. It turns out that I was completely wrong. On Monday, I suspected something was amiss because my foot was still swollen, numb, and painfully cold. A quick trip to our local walk-in clinic confirmed I was right. I had fractured my fibula. (Sigh...) Sometimes, I hate being right.

Wednesday, my orthopedist assured me that it was "a good break to have. At least it was good for [me], but bad for [him]." (Hmmm... I'm glad he went into medicine and not comedy.) In any case, I won't require surgery, and I should even be able to drive again in a couple of weeks. He gave me a boot because every girl wants new shoes and some Vicodin for the pain before letting me hobble on my merry way. (Note: I've been taking only half a tablet before bedtime because I'm not sure being stoned with a toddler at home is a great idea. Plus, they're not nearly as much fun as Dr. House makes them seem.)

Altogether, the prognosis is really good, but my inner control freak is still freaking out a little bit. Tomorrow, we're having a party at our house, and lots of things I would normally have done -- like cleaning windows and light fixtures, shampooing rugs and couches, wiping shutters, cleaning moss off the patio, etc. --  just aren't happening. I simply can't do them with my bum leg.

(BTW -- lest one jump to the wrong conclusion and think that I'm a neat freak -- I'm not. By nature, I'm a slob. But I'm also detail-oriented. How one person can be both is a conundrum, I know.)

I'm also frustrated by having to rely on my kids and husband for all kinds of chores like taking laundry up and downstairs, shopping, emptying the dishwasher, and so on. I'm grateful for their help, but sometimes it's frustrating having to wait for them. Also, my inner control gets a little cuckoo when things aren't done my usual way, aka "the right way." For instance, I have this thing about my knives. I like them to be washed by hand, towel dried, and then placed into their own special slots in the knife block. Serrated knives on the left. Non-serrated on the right. In order of widest blades on top to narrowest blades at the bottom. See what I mean? It's a sickness. I have to consciously just let it go and be grateful they're put away at all when I see knives sticking out of any wacky slot.

Maybe that's the lesson I have to learn from this experience. I need to just relax and let go of stuff. In fact, that's kind of been the question of the week -- Is this really important? Will there be gossip if I don't shine every crystal on every light? Will the couch stop working if it doesn't get shampooed? Will anyone spend the entire party inspecting shutters? Will people be licking food off the patio floor?

And the first question has led to a second one. Why are so many of these things important to me in the first place? It's obvious that Mr. Clean doesn't live here, but nobody is going to pick up some weird bacteria either. So I have to conclude that the health, safety, and comfort of my company aren't the issue.

I love to blame what I've dubbed "the Martha Stewart phenomenon." There are all these media sites that tell you how to have the perfect gathering. They have some great ideas, but sometimes they create impossible standards for hosts and unrealistic expectations for guests. However, in this case, I'm not sure that media is entirely at fault. I've come to realize that I'm a control freak because 1) I get to wield a kind of power over my environment and 2) it's a way to control other people's perceptions of me. I suppose the first reason is ok. I mean, having the knives in place really does save time by making it easier to grab the right one. But I'm not so sure I like the second reason. I'm not even close to having my stuff together. I have bad days. If I'm worried about what people think, I can't enjoy them nearly as much as I should. ;-)

So it's not easy, but I'm learning to control my inner control freak. This past week, I've been gimping around in pajamas all day long,  shoving stuff into closets without bothering about where they should really go, taking naps when I should be scrubbing toilets... I've been a perfect hedonist!

As for tomorrow, my plan is to make sure that the main rooms on the main floor of our house are relatively tidy and just close the door on everything else. Then I will breathe deeply while counting to ten and welcome my guests with a smile. Cool. Collected. Controlled. Sort of.


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