Tag Archives: OCD and cleanliness


There are seemingly mundane things I plan, coordinate, and perseverate on, like getting my carpets cleaned. I revel in anything that improves the cleanliness of my house.   But something about clean floors is a downright religious moment for me. I come by that mania rightly–my aunts too had that obsession. I remember watching my aunt clean and re-clean her kitchen floor because it was streaky and felt sticky. So glad that trait came down to me. But back to my impending carpet cleaning: my random-OCD acted up and suddenly every inch of carpet upstairs had to be cleaned. I moved everything I could physically muster, off the carpets and into the bathrooms; then enlisted Dan to help me move the heavier things, like chairs and side tables.   I decided as long as the cleaner was here, perhaps he could clean the rugs downstairs too. Oh heavenly clean bliss was about to come my way.

Obviously what follows is, well, wet carpets and rugs.   Our wonderful carpet guy offered to leave his industrial fans to dry my rugs. I was thrilled! It’s the little things remember.

However, when my very routine son comes home and the house is in disarray, all my grand plans float away like smoke. My idea for blocking the stairs with a kitchen chair (so the dog won’t put his yucky paws on my clean carpet) and leaving the shuddering fans to dry the rugs overnight—were about to cause havoc.

At first, I thought priming Ryan would make it go smoothly. I explained the carpets were wet and things had to stay off them, like toys and dog feet. He seemed okay and I had hope it would all be fine-until we got home and he discovered the chair out of place and the raucous fans. Plus, all his toys in the family room had been moved from the distinct places he had put them.

As I started mindlessly sweeping the dog hair clusters the fans had blown from under the couch, I see Ryan making frantic trips back and forth to his toy closet putting toy animals away. I had to stop and concentrate over the din of the fans to realize he was bordering on tears.

How could I have been so caught up in the glory of fresh carpets that I overlooked how it would make it feel? This isn’t my first go round at dealing with change and Ryan–so don’t think me insensitive.  It’s the progress he has made; he rolls with things so much easier than when he was younger. He transitions to changes in plans with hardly ever a batting of his eye. He can tell me verbally when he’s getting upset. But today I’m not sure planning or priming would have helped. It was too loud and too many things out of place. The one thing he finds peace in is coming home to his house with all his stuff where he left it.  It shouldn’t have been a surprise.

I should have watched for his reaction as we walked in the door to the noise and the displacement of furniture. If I could have heard his gasps as we walked in the door, I would have stopped. But, I was deafened by the noise and caught up in the continual job of cleaning. It’s hard to stop once you start.

As I stood there with the broom and a pile of dog hair and watched his disturbed face, I knew I had a choice. I could stop his unease very simply. Though I wanted those rugs dry as quickly as possible, I realized it wasn’t worth it to stress him out. They are just rugs and will probably dry on their own overnight.  And I’ll just have to watch the mongrel dog to make sure he didn’t go up the stairs with his messy self.

Fans were turned off and put aside. The chair was put back at the dining table and I saw a visible change in him. He asked if he could put on a movie and then carefully began placing his toys where they belong. Peace returned.

I sat down to ruminate on my thoughts of choices I make for each of my children.  Simple thins, like how I choose to make their breakfast and lunch every morning (Dan helps too); how I choose to take and pick them up from school; how I choose special treats at the store; how I choose to spend a Friday night with them watching a movie; how I choose their happiness over mine and would everyday.  It’s worth every offering, even my beloved clean carpets to keep them happy.  I will forgo my silly cleanly pleasures–I will forgo anything for them.  And I will do this until I no longer can.

That’s when I heard the dog retching about to throw up…

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