By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
There are days when I feel like half my life is spent looking for something. And I’m not speaking figuratively. I’ve already “found myself” and “found God” and found that both were there all along. I’m talking about looking for stuff – the lost toy, the permission slip for school, the library book, the other sock, the important receipt, the camera, the can of tomato sauce I know must be here somewhere, the double-A batteries, my sunglasses, and the stuffed animal my kid just had in her hands 10 minutes ago. Where is all this stuff?
I find it insanely frustrating to constantly be looking for something, mostly because I’ve always prided myself on being organized. Or at least I used to be. On a scale of 1 to 10 – with 1 being “complete slob” and 10 being “severe case of organizational obsessive-compulsive disorder” – I would rate myself somewhere between 7 and 8.
I like for things to line up. I appreciate the beauty in a well-organized closet. I’ve secretly wanted a nice label maker for the past three years. And I totally buy into the philosophy of “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
So why, WHY, can’t my things stay in their places? Who is taking my stuff out of its place? And why aren’t they putting it back?
Of course, the easy thing would be to blame the husband or the children. Many husbands can’t find a bottle of aspirin even when it’s staring them in the eyeballs, four inches away. And kids are famous for losing everything from baby teeth to backpacks. But the hard truth is that, nine times out of 10, it’s me who has lost something all on my own.
I get distracted. I walk into one room to put something away and get pulled in a different direction. I stop and tie someone’s shoe, answer the phone or cue up the right cartoon on the DVR. I put the thing down, just for a minute, while I handle the distraction and then forget what I was there to do. At that point, I’m pretty sure the item must slip into some sort of household Bermuda Triangle, never to be seen again.
Admittedly, I also have a bad habit of putting things in a “very safe place.” When you do that, there’s a good chance you’ll completely forget where that place is. If I ever accidentally stumble across the “very safe place” in my house, I bet lots of good stuff will come spilling out of there.
The worst part is that I can’t just let it go and chalk it up to “one of those things that will turn up eventually.” Subconsciously, it haunts me. I still remember that, on the first day of fifth grade, I had a brand new outfit my mother bought for me the weekend before school started. But on that first morning of school, I couldn’t find the red belt that we bought to go with the pants. I looked everywhere and NEVER found it. It nearly killed me to go to school that day knowing the final touch was missing. More than two decades have passed, and I STILL wish I knew what happened to that blasted red belt from 1984.
In this New Year, I hope I find some of the time I’ve lost looking for all this stuff. And I hope I find an organizational system that’s distraction-proof.
For you, my gentle readers, I hope you find the determination to do the thing you’ve always wanted to do. I hope you find more money in your bank accounts. I hope you find time to take care of your body.
Most of all, I hope you and I find good health and happiness in the months ahead. From my family to yours, Happy New Year.