We all have ways of dealing with the domestic upheaval which results from rearing children. Some parents are easy-going and others less so. I try to run a balanced household, but almost always err on the side of anal-retentiveness. Sometimes I can relax my motherly-micromanaging grip, but there's only so much chaos I can surrender to before really starting to crack. So, I rely on control mechanisms to help me cope.
First, I do not call them control issues, because that would indicate a problem. I employ control mechanisms to alleviate and prevent problems. It's entirely different.
Second, I don't know any household where there isn't a point in which every minute counts. Efficiency can save lives, my life, especially at the grocery store check out. For example, the order in which things are packed directly relates to the speed at which they are unpacked. I am the only one intimately familiar with the unpacking process, ergo I am the ideal packer of my own groceries. Plus, I'm not going to just stand there and wait for the cashier to pack. I've got kids who grab everything and change the language on the credit card swiper. Here's the deal; I pack while you ring up and I don't have to check out in Español. Then, the well-oiled machine perfected over the past six years called "Grocery Shopping With Children" can continue smoothly when I get home. It's that simple.
One of my biggest control mechanisms is laundry, particularly the folding of it. Sure, it might border on irrational, but I hold that certain folding styles are best suited for the destination drawer or closet space. Kids' pants are folded in thirds, while adult sizes fold down best in quarters. Socks; little sock bundles work best for little hands and quick retrieval, whereas Hubby's socks get rolled for best fit in the sock organizer (his purchase, not mine!). I know which clothes belong to whom without checking tags and, similar to the grocery bag situation, how the piles are sorted directly relates to the speed at which I am able to put the clothes away. There's a rational explanation for it all...until recently.
My mother was visiting and when I saw her start to fold clean laundry I felt the onset of a small panic attack. I'm not proud to admit that I grabbed the filled laundry bins in a bit of a huff and retreated to my bedroom to sort and, in some cases, refold items before putting it all away. Why didn't she just listen to me when I said to leave it? I took out some vengeance on monkey underwear and slowly began to calm myself. Why am I so bent out of shape? Here she was helping and I was being stupid. Was I really pissed that it wasn't done my way? Nah, it couldn't be. The more I thought about it, though, the more I considered my folding routine and what it means to me.
In a world where chaos is either ensuing or looming, I can smooth, fold, stack and repeat. I make pile upon pile knowing this bin will get unloaded in one room and that bin in another. As insane as it may sound, this matters to me. Order, calm, and, yes, control. It's therapeutic. I may be freakish sometimes, but this is not an issue. It's a mechanism and it keeps my brain from totally falling into tiny bits. See, there really is a rational explanation.
And Mom and Mom-in-law, no offense, but sometimes I just don't like the idea of either of you folding my under garments. It doesn't matter whether they're lacey undies or giant granny-panties...let's just not go there.