Hindsight, they say, is 20/20. Looking backwards, I realize that over the last three years I've watched my wife struggle through the five stages of grief. Mourning requires time to come to acceptance. What I didn't realize is that this same process applies when coming to grips with the messiness of one's home. At least for the woman of the home. My 14-year-old leaves a trail of destruction in her wake. One of the casualties is my wife's psyche. And if you're not familiar with the five stages of grief, in the context of messy rooms they progress something like this:
- Denial - "I can't believe I have such a messy kid"
- Anger - "CLEAN YOur room...NOW!"
- Bargaining - "Look, I'll get you Starbucks if you can keep your room clean for the weekend."
- Depression - Addressing me: "Honey, I just can't stand it. Have you *seen* the hallway? All I want is a clean hallway. That's all I want."
- Acceptance - Because we have three children: "Well, just 9 more years and then we can keep our home clean."
Being the ever-cognizant male, it only took me about 3 years and my wife's acceptance of the issue to stumble on the fact that there was an issue. The Aha! moment came last night. When my daughter got home I let her know that I'll never again talk to her about the cleanliness of her room. In fact, I'll try to be helpful. If she won't clean her room then I'll clean it for her. I'll check in each day, and if her room is messy I'll clean it up. And because I don't want to throw out anything important I'll have to read whatever I find lying around before figuring out what to do with it.
I didn't realize a person could express laughter and unbelief with simultaneous horror. I gave her a few days to get things in order. I start Monday.