May 16, 2011

A Novel Approach to Life

The morning sun cast its first rays across the floor as she crept down the hall. A tingle pricked her forearms and slithered up her shoulders to her neck, turning into a full blown shudder as she gripped her weapon more tightly and placed her finger square on the trigger. As she reached the end of the hall, she paused, fearful of what she might find if she continued. But, she had no choice. This was the only way out. Taking a slow, silent breath, she gathered her courage and, weapon firmly clasped in her hands, rounded the corner. Just as she feared, he was there, waiting for her.

And, although she abhorred violence, she did not hesitate. She pulled the trigger, not once, not twice but over and over, shouting, "DIE! DIE! DIE!!!!" as she shot him - as though it would somehow make the end come more quickly. Confused by his sudden fall from power, he crawled toward her, thinking escape was possible. He was gone within seconds while she was left, panting and shaken, horrified by the thought that this wasn't the first time she'd lived this nightmare and that it wasn't likely to be the last.

This, my friends, is not, as you might imagine, a fiction. It is, in fact, a true story.

The heroine is - of course - me.

The target, is - a


Yes. That's right. I've interrupted our regularly scheduled Monday programming to bring you the saga of my personal battle against a cockroach (and his d*** friends) - and how that battle against these creatures of the night has changed my life and caused me to face some personal demons as well.

It all started a few months ago, when I was working downstairs late in the evening  - and discovered the biggest FR**king roach I've ever seen in my life. I stood, frozen and horrified as I watched it run at lightening speed around my freshly cleaned kitchen and spread it's nastiness everywhere.

"What do I do? What do I do?!" I thought as I stood there, unable to move. The thing had too many places to go for me to hit it successfully, not to mention that it was too darned fast! I did the only respectable thing a smart woman can do. I called my husband (who was soundly sleeping) - and let him play the hero. And, after he stumbled out of bed and miraculously managed to hit the thing with the first swat, even he was freaked out by it's size!

Now, in Arizona, we are lucky not to have many natural disasters. Nope. Instead we have flying roaches. My fear of these creepers dates back to childhood - and the encounters I had with them that emotionally scarred me. Now, I am not going to describe those events because I fear that even you might be unable to sleep tonight if you were to recall them before bed. You can see from this previous post how cool I am about handling them.

Suffice it to say that when I discovered this sewer roach who'd visited my house via a drain pipe had encouraged his friends to visit, horror does not begin to describe my response.

I embarked on a mission to make my house so perfectly clean that not a crumb, a drop of water or a smear of jelly remained anywhere as a repast for unwelcome guests. No toy could be left on the floor, no towel left damp, no wet clothing unwashed. EVERYTHING had a place and EVERYONE had to honor it - FROM NOW ON - NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!!!

If you're wondering why it seems like I am yelling, it's just so you get an idea of how lovely it was to live with me for the first month I spent shoring up every mess in my house and informing everyone when they failed to live up to my new standard of clean. I was a woman obsessed, terrorized by the possible and likely presence of these horrid creatures of the night who'd never visited before in the 10 years I'd lived here, though we'd never sprayed for bugs.

Now, you know, I am an organic mama and I didn't want to expose my kids to any nasty chemicals like bug foggers. So, I chose the natural route, diatomaceous earth and a clean house. Every day, I spent scouring the house like a possessed person, thinking if I just got it clean enough, they would more on because there was not food and no place to hide. I was embarrassed because I thought these creatures only visited dirty houses and so stressed I was jumpy for weeks and imagined them everywhere I looked. Talk about crazy!

Of course, after quite a bit of research on the subject, I discovered that sewer roaches can actually come up the drains (in any house!) or creep in through cracks in doors and other little spots. So, we covered our drains, filled in any holes, spread diatomaceous earth and learned how to kill them with a spray bottle of super-soapy water (no raid required!). That last is way easier than trying to catch them with a giant shoe because you can hit them before they even know you've detected their presence.

But more importantly than learning about how to eliminate a roach invasion in my house, I learned some important things about myself.

First, I re-discovered my inborn desire to keep my house just as clean as I want it to be (even with preschoolers) - something I inherited from my mother and my grandma. Before kids, I was a little bit nuts about things being orderly and living in a structured schedule. Around the time I had kids, a lot of other things were going on in my life with family and I felt completely overwhelmed by the influx of stuff that the birth of our children introduced into our townhouse. While I kept the house clean, it has never quite met my standard of organized.

Since the "guests" visited, I found new determination to get back to a house I feel good about inviting actual friends to visit. While I definitely went overboard at first in my crazy, exhausted state - snarling at everyone to follow the new rules, I am learning to follow a regular routine that allows me to maintain order and still have time with my kids. I haven't reached any kind of perfection but at least I'm heading toward a goal. It helps that my youngest is old enough to play with her big sister safely now and follow instructions fairly well.

The second lesson I learned through this is that being stressed about getting everything right isn't going to make this or any other challenge easier. One of life's more important lessons is how to move gracefully from one challenge to the next. Somehow, in the last few years, as I experienced significant loss in the death of my brother, mom and dad, I lost my ability to do this.

There was so much loss in such a short time that I was so helpless to affect, I became afraid of change. It definitely seemed like the changes weren't great ones. Anxiety and fear sort of shoved their way into my heart and I didn't feel I had the strength to fight them at first. I tried to cope with them by micro-managing the little things that I could control. I think part of me believed that if I could just get everything else just right in my life, I would be able to deal with the painful parts more efficiently. But this attitude only stressed me out and made my family miserable.

Who knew a simple cockroach could teach me such a valuable lesson about meeting change differently?  Experiences - from love and joy to pain and loss - are supposed to be messy, unmanageable and change the way we see life. Freeing myself from the idea that I have control over anything other than my attitude has given me freedom and flexibility to enjoy life again in a way I'd forgotten was possible.

Worrying about what might happen only causes me to miss out on the good stuff right in front of me. To help me remember, I wrote a note to myself on my kitchen cabinet that says, "You have an amazing life! Enjoy it now!!" I look at it when I doubt it - which usually happens about three in the afternoon when I'm tired, need to get dinner started and my two year old is pitching a fit.

Thanks Cockroach. - R.I.P. -  I owe a big debt of gratitude to you.

Don't worry. If your friends visit, I'll send them your way.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Monna! So it's not just pastor-types who find life illustrations in the most ordinary (or traumatic!) of life experiences. : ) I appreciate this!


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