It dawned on me recently that I’m turning into my mother. I was straightening up the linen closet when I realized, hey, I have a linen closet.
As a kid, I avoided the linen closet in my parents’ house like the plague. I employed paper towels instead of regular ones to mop up spills and slept on caseless pillows if I couldn’t wait for the sheets to come out of the dryer before retiring to bed. I learned early on that when anyone besides my mom penetrated the linen closet (being the dutiful spawn of Martha Stewart and Sherlock Holmes that she is), she felt it in her bones. Her “a-ha!” moment was always followed by an interrogation.
“What were you doing in the linen closet?” she’d ask.
“I needed a towel because Niki accidentally knocked over a glass of grape juice on the living room rug this afternoon,” I’d answer, blood rushing to my face.
She’d sigh heavily. “Why did you have liquids in the living room?”
“Um, I don’t know,” was my deftly mumbled stock response.
“Why are you girls even drinking grape juice? There’s so much sugar in it. You should really drink water instead. And haven’t I told you that I don’t want you hanging out with your friends in the living room? By the way, do I have to say again that the bath towels are not to be used to clean up that kind of a mess? Get a rag from the laundry room, for heaven’s sake. Speaking of this afternoon, didn’t you have a math test? How’d that go?”
The funny thing is, the linen closet is now my favorite part of my own house. And finally having a linen closet and a mortgage to call my very own, I understand the method to my mom’s madness. (Well, mostly. I don’t think I’ll ever get why she occasionally puts ketchup and Parmesan cheese on spaghetti.) What a clever idea to have a closet for the sole purpose of storing clean sheets, towels and tablecloths. Sure, I haven’t a clue how to properly fold a fitted sheet, but they — wrinkles and all — still deserve a pretty place to rest while not in use. It’s a matter of respect, really.
With my exponentially expanded sense of purpose and pride in maintaining the linen closet, it seems like a natural progression to want the rest of the house to be equally as lovely and organized. So, like my mom, I have become increasingly particular about how all details and events under my roof should — and will — develop.
Much to my husband’s dismay, I can walk through the front door and know instinctively if the couch has been moved a quarter of an inch or a lampshade is even slightly askew. And like me as a kid, he’s forever looking guiltier than O.J., bloody knife in hand.
Rick took the initiative to clean the kitchen after breakfast last weekend. After washing the dishes he turned on the garbage disposal, which was clanking loudly.
He looked at me and I walked over and switched it off. “Something’s in there that shouldn’t be,” I said.
“Really?” he gulped.
“You can’t tell? What did you put in there?” I demanded.
“Um, just normal stuff, “ he replied. I raised my eyebrows. “And some chicken bones.”
“Chicken bones?” I asked incredulously. “From last night’s dinner? You can’t put bones in the garbage disposal!” Then I narrowed my eyes at him. “Why were the bones going in there this morning, anyway? You said last night when I went up to bed that you were going to clear the dinner plates and take out the garbage. You didn’t let the dirty plates sit on the table all night, did you? You did take out the garbage, didn’t you?”
He slunk off into a corner.
Fortunately, also like my mom, I married a man who tolerates my obsessive-compulsive control-freak behavior and happens to appreciate living in a well-cared-for home. Even though, like my dad, he could probably just as easily let it all go and reside in a smelly locker room just so long as the fridge is well stocked and the view of the TV from the couch is unimpeded.
Recently, I turned my focus to the closet in our bedroom and admonished Rick for the slipshod way in which his shirts were hanging. But as the words were coming out of my mouth I glanced at my side of the closet and realized I haven’t totally morphed into my mom just yet. I take pride in a lot, but apparently feel little shame in having on the floor and corners of the closet mismatched heaps of my own balled-up dirty and clean clothes.
I still have a long way to go to before I’ve turned into my mom 100 percent, but with some luck and if I can ever figure out how to use the iron, I should get there eventually.
More on and from Meredith at meredithcarroll.com.