At my age, I admit that a tidy home is a pleasure. I grew up in one, and can’t imagine having to live in a house that is only cleaned once a week.
My mother was a fanatic when it came to keeping things in their proper place. Her kitchen was a work of wonder; disinfected floors and counters, dishes aligned perfectly, glasses were arranged in order by size and color, and food items were alphabetized and stacked perfectly in the cabinets. We had more Tupperware than the stockyards had cattle. The rest of our home was as clean as her kitchen. I didn’t appreciate her obsession then; I was six years old and didn’t know an obsessed person from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Everything was fine until she started messing with the few toys I owned. My plastic army men were off-limits to everyone.
Attempting to recreate the Battle of the Bulge, pitting the US Army against the Nazis, I had spent hours arranging my tiny army on my bedroom floor. Plastic soldiers with carbines, tanks, half-tracks, and jeeps were all in place, awaiting my signal to begin the battle. I needed a bathroom break, so off I went. I wasn’t gone more than three minutes, tops, and when I returned to my bedroom, the battlefield was gone. Both armies were packed into their box and placed on my twin bed. My mother was there running the vacuum over the former field of honor.
“Oh, I thought you were done, so I picked everything up for you,” she said.
Hours of work, kaput. That was my first real experience with what we now know as OCD, “Obsessive Cleaning Disorder.” This was the mid-1950s, so new disorders and mental conditions were discovered daily. Housewives seemed to suffer from almost all of them. Family physicians were prescribing pills like candy.
My father got it; he would leave a sock on the dining room floor or move a few books around, and on one occasion, he re-arranged the plates and saucers. My mother came close to a nervous breakdown, so he backed off a bit. I admit that my sister and I got a small dose of her affliction because it appears to be transferred through genetics. There is no escape. My poor friends had to live in their “pig-pen” of a home while my sister and I lounged in our sanitized and orderly dwelling.
I have accurately diagnosed my wife MoMo with a version of the OCD. No doctor was consulted or needed; I have, as a child, suffered through years of the affliction. I know it well. MoMo has a whopper of a case of it. There are no germs in our home. She seeks them out and destroys them by the millions. Vaccumes, mops, sprays, and dust collecters are her armaments. The 2-second rule is not needed in our kitchen. I can drop a sandwich or a pork rib on the floor and place it back on my plate, knowing that it is germ-free and delightfully edible. When it comes to germs and filth, she is a downright serial killer.
I hate to end this story, but I need to re-wash my hands and roll a lint collector on my black tee-shirt.
8 Replies to “OCD, OCD, Life Goes On, Brah, La, La, How The Life Goes On”
My house is an unnatural disaster area. A little OCD could get quite a workout here!
I don’t recall any of my childhood friends living in messy houses. Put this phenomenon in context. In the 1950s and 1960s, most of our moms were stay-at-home moms. I think most of them just cleaned excessively out of boredom. And many of the children (our generation) replicated their behaviors. With that said, I lean towards that obsessive behavior, but I blame it on what I said in the above comments. Although, I do have a younger brother with textbook OCD, so severe it has ruined his quality of life. The severity is so sad. Such things as being obsessive over little things such as tidiness are nothing like what he goes through. In fact, many debilitating OCD sufferers are just the opposite of “tidy”. Though we jest about the behavior these days, about 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children in the U.S. are said to have OCD. It did not speak to what extent. But I felt your pain, my mother would rearrange the furniture in my room weekly, so she could clean the baseboards. I hated my room being messed with.
I have a good friend that is OCD. If anything is out of place it drives him to drink. It takes on many forms as you say. Hoarding is a form of OCD, and there is nothing clean with that form. Only eating certain foods and drinks, and obsession with ones yard can also qualify. Sorry that your brother has to go through that, it effects the entire family and friends.
Duuuuuuude, you just described MY mother. OMFG. You could eat off the floors, she was such a cleaner. I don’t remember organized dishes in the kitchen but, I do remember her organized closet & her cleaning my room. I also remember the pristene toilets. You could eat off of the toilet seats.
I never had to clean my room. My dad, on the other hand, was a confessed slob (which was on display this past August & September when my uncle and I had to clean up his 40 year old mess in his apartment when he died). He would run around the house and drop cigarette ashes in every ash tray he could find, after she had cleaned & polished them, just to drive her crazy.
My mom was the poster child for OCD. And, I just learned from my uncle, yesterday, that my mother hears voices…has for years. He helped her get meds but, she decided she didn’t need them. I guess the voices tell her to clean? 🤔😵💫
It’s got to be a 50s thing.
Well, it blew into the 60s, 70s & 80s…at least, for her. I was born in 1966 and she was a neat freak up until I moved out in 1989. She was so tidy that, you couldn’t even sleep on the damn couch. And, if you sat on said couch, you’d damn well better smooth out those wrinkles you caused. OY!
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My mother in law is like that…when she is here…I will move stuff around just to see her reaction…hey Phil…it’s my mother in law…I have that right! lol.
My mother was the same way.
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I feel your pain. I am a bit like that, but not much. I do keep my vinyl records clean, but my art studio and tool shed, not so much. My mother in law was also that way.
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