Defining Normal

Defining Normal at ASlobComesClean.com

First, let me say that in my non-expert opinion, there is no real definition for normal. If you have in-laws or have been a guest for more than two nights in someone’s home, you know this.

People are all unique.

So, having stated that no one is truly normal, let me define “normal” for the purposes of this blog. My husband recommended that I write this post because it seems that lately, when I refer to non-slobs as “normal,” a misunderstanding happens.

First, you have to understand that . . . I think I’m funny.

I recently overheard someone say condescendingly, “Well, y’know . . . everybody thinks they’re funny.”

My in-my-head response? Yeah, maybe . . . but I really am funny.

I think that my regular readers know when I’m trying to be funny. But new readers might not realize it at first, and could understandably be offended if I refer to something they might do, as something “normal” people wouldn’t do, and therefore they feel like I’m saying they’re not normal.

Confusing enough?

I’ll clarify that . . . I have no desire to be normal. I have taught my children from birth that we have no interest, as a family, in being like other people just for the sake of being like other people. We want to do what’s right, we want to have fun, and we want to be creative. Basically, who cares what other people do?

But, in the interest of helping any new-to-my-blog readers feel the welcoming acceptance that I want them to feel here, I’ll share some examples of what I mean when I call people normal.

Normal people open a can of spinach and immediately throw away the lid.

People like me see the lid hanging from the magnet on the can opener, pull it off, examine it to determine that it was spinach, and then stare into space for a moment, attempting to recall the last time they served spinach.

Normal people trip over a pair of shoes, think “Who left that there?” and feel irritation as they put the shoes away.

People like me trip over a pair of shoes, think “Ugh, I need to move those,” and then forget about them completely until the next time they trip over them.

Normal people walk into the laundry room and think, “When did that stack of clothes fall over?”

People like me use their full body weight to get the laundry room door to shut because that’s easier than sifting through the dirty clothes, used-to-be-clean-until-they-fell-over clothes, shopping bags, etc.

Normal people ask first-time-guests if they would like a tour of their home.

People like me lock their master bedroom door and instruct their children to direct guests to a specific bathroom.

I could go on . . . .

and on.

As I’ve explained before, a big part of this “coming clean” process was me being honest with myself. I had to accept that my brain works differently from those people whose homes seemed to always be presentable.

Not perfect, just presentable.

And I’ll take my brain, with all of its quirks, any day of the week. I’m glad I’m creative. I’m glad big projects and parties and plays energize me and give me tunnel vision.

It’s who I am, and I’m good with that.

But I’m not good with having to open the door only as far as it takes for me to squeeze myself outside and talk to a friend. I’m not good with wanting to cry because I realize that the one load of laundry I actually completed that week contained one-too-few pairs of undies. I’m not good with having enough energy to do a craft project with the kids . . . . but not enough energy to declutter the table before we can start.

So I’m finding ways to make my home livable that work for my brain. It’s one of the reasons I don’t read tons of organizing advice. Generally, the people who love to give organizing advice are the people who love organizing. Their brains are different than mine. While I’ve found some great ideas that I have been able to implement, I’ve found many that only served to overwhelm me.

I know I try to avoid giving advice, but here’s some.

You’re not normal. You’re you. Be you. Enjoy being you, and figure out what works for you.

This doesn’t mean we accept that “that’s just how I am” and quit trying to be better, it means that we accept how we are and find ways to improve our homes that work for us.

Could someone give me a hand getting down from this soapbox?

--Nony

Comments

  1. devoted princess says:

    "Could someone give me a hand getting down from this soapbox?"

    Nope…I think you should stay right there…'specially if you're going to be inside my brain while you're there.

  2. I totally get your humor!! And even though I am an anal OCD type freak, I know what it feels like to push a door shut with my full body weight because what behind it is just too overwheming. I also take comfort in knowing there is always someone more effed up than me…is that messed up or what???

  3. Love your comparisons. I'm definitely a "people like me"!

  4. Well said!!!

  5. "Generally, the people who love to give organizing advice are the people who love organizing." Amen. Amen. And AMEN! I've been avoiding THOSE kind of sites since I started my own de-junk process. :)

  6. Lenetta @ Nettacow says:

    Oh, no, you really are funny. *I'm* one of those in the "everybody thinks they're funny" category!

  7. Love it.

    I don't give house tours either, and there is only one bathroom available for guests. I do worry that someday there will be an emergency and I'll have to let a guest use my bathroom.

  8. Anonymous says:

    When you find normal let us know.

  9. I would fall into the people like me category too. I also think you are funny!

  10. BRILLIANT! Love it.

  11. Oh I just have to agree on this one:) Everyone is different. I've never found that someone elses way of doing things ever worked for me! I have to be me otherwise I'm miserable.

  12. I'm new to your blog and totally dig your humor. I, too, am in the "everybody thinks their funny" category. Apparently, my humor is a litte too sarcastic for some people and comes off as offensive. Oh well, I think it's funny.

  13. Stephanie says:

    I just found your blog, and I think we may just be long lost twins separated at birth…

  14. togetherforgood says:

    This is my life. Thanks for making *me* feel a little less abnormal anyway. ;) (Normal isn't something I shoot for either).

  15. I've heard about a book that is fantastic for this situation. It's called, "The House The Cleans Itself." Worth a read, for sure.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I found your site by looking for a bathroom cleaning checklist. I LOVE organizing advice! But I am a naturally messy and disorganized person–i love the advice but have trouble with keeping it up. I edited and printed your bathroom cleaning checklist for my three kids. If they each clean the bathroom only once every three weeks, the bathroom will always be clean! I am on day one. I would be surprised it we even make to child number 2/week 2 on the schedule!

  17. coupon chick says:

    HA! I love it!
    New follower from the blog hop!
    Friending you on GFC.

    Stop by sometime!
    http://chicksdigcoupons.blogspot.com

  18. HA! Great Post! I'm not normal either ;) Thanks for posting on the Mystery Post Blog Hop!

  19. Great minds must think alike…. I too am trying to define 'normal' and re-train my brain to take care of the things exactly like you mention.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I started following your blog b/c I saw it linked up to simple mom's project this month & it was only one of a few that was interesting & funny enough to read more than one post!
    thank you for your honesty as a slob- I'm married to one- this has helped me decode his rational for not picking up after himself :)

  21. Lacy @ Catholic Icing says:

    Um… you're always talking about how you avoid giving advice, but you've come a long way and some of us could use the advice! So many of the things you write here seriously hit home for me. Well written.

  22. Guests don’t even KNOW I have a second bathroom. ‘Nuff said!

  23. If I can add to the conversation, I wrote a similar post awhile back, thinking about the importance of defining what clean looks like to each of us. (My husband and I are very different). It’s here:
    http://momsinneedofmercy.blogspot.com/2009/11/messy-monday-what-is-clean.html

  24. I think you are an exact clone of me. I think we might have been separated at birth. You think, act, do, and live the same way I do. You are the first person that i have seen that could put what I do and feel into words. Thank you for opening my eyes to realize that i am not normal, Im me! I love your site and I am hoping that I can kick my butt into gear and get things done around here.

    :) Stephanie

  25. I just found your blog through Money Saving Mom and can completely connect with your sense of humor as well as your struggles with keeping a semi-presentable home. I’m am so excited to continue reading. It feels wonderful to know that there is someone else in the world who get distracted as easily as me! Love your writing!

  26. Thank you for telling me the “why’s” behind my behavior. Someone finally gets it…locking the master bedroom door, the library books (loved that post!), all of it.

    Also, you are a hoot! I wish you lived by me…i’d invite you over (certain you wouldn’t use the wrong bathroom or peek in my bedroom! Ha!) and laugh and laugh! : )

  27. I just stumbled upon you on pinterest and I am seriously every single one of these things. I literally have had ONE family over to my house in the 3 years we have lived in our home due to this. Most the time I just feel overwhelmed….I think I should continue reading on… LOL

  28. I am so in love with you. I just found you, and I could cry knowing there are other people out there just like me. I always beat myself up thinking I am the only mom in the world who this stuff isn’t obvious to. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

    • Welcome, Cari! That’s exactly how I felt when I started this blog!

    • Amy Carter says:

      “I am so in love with you. I just found you, and I could cry knowing there are other people out there just like me. I always beat myself up thinking I am the only mom in the world who this stuff isn’t obvious to. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!”

      Ditto.

      And am I the only one who surrounds herself with friends who have their homes all “together”, which is what I aspire for, but really makes me beat myself up even more that I “can’t” and they “can”?!?

  29. Thank you for this…from the heart.

    I can see SO much of myself in everything that you’ve said and I’m grateful to have found someone who gets it. All of my friends are relatively tidy and it feels awful not to be that way oftentimes.

    It’s heartbreaking to feel like there is a thin line between lazy and overwhelmed; I don’t think people see the difference. For me it’s not a lack of desire or ability but more the knowledge that whatever I attempt is going to take me so much longer than it would take most others…my brain is just not wired to see a mess and tackle it. So, this is truly one of those cases of making a mountain out of a molehill but I finally feel like I might have found an answer to that.

    Thank you for your blog and your understanding…it’s nice to be in good company. :-)

  30. A_Struggling LegalUSCitizen says:

    Being anything other than a mainstream traditionally “Normal” person does have its inherent challenges, even if we’ve embraced our eccentricities and rather enjoy them overall.

    I so enjoy reading your blogs for several reasons – only one of which is because they remind me of one of my favorite humor writers – the late Erma Bombeck.

  31. Ha! I just found your blog and I am already a fan. I’m a 33 year old mom to two kids and my organizational style is bipoloar. Everything is either OCD perfect (which is exhausting) or looks like a bomb went off in my house. I’m looking for motivation to maintain.

    Love your blog – I will definitely be a regular here and will tell my friends about you!

  32. I am most definitely NOT “normal”. im just like you. I told my husband that often times I simply don’t “see” the mess. seriously. I thought there was something seriously wrong with me, until i read your blog.

  33. WOW. You are SO me. I grew up being called “scatterbrained”…by my own mother! I always tell people I can easily clean/organize a bathroom…because they’re small. But give me a whole house to clean/organize – and even with days on end to do it , it’s going to stay a mess. Because I get completely overwhelmed and find 18 other things to do. And then I forget I wanted to clean the whole house in the first place!

    Needless to say, you are SO me. I am THRILLED to have found your site. :)

  34. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that I’m not the only one with this problem! I have done every single thing “normal” people don’t do! I was always SO embarrassed if anyone just popped by, and yes, I ussually didn’t let them in. One time I was out when a friend stopped by on a particularly messy day and when my husband called to finalize plans, first words out of my mouth were “DON’T LET HER IN!” But of course he had. I cried the whole way home I was so mortified! But now she knows when I say my house isn’t ready for a playdate, that I mean it, and has offered her house every time. I’m new to this normal people thinking. I’m just excited I have 4 picked up semi clean rooms for 3 days straight now! It’s all baby steps, right?

  35. Whoa! That’s ME! Glad I found someone I could actually relate to on this topic. I feel better already, truly I do :)

  36. THANK YOU!!!! I have been so frustrated and critical of myself lately and I am SO thankful that there are others out there like me, and that you aren’t embarrassed about who you are!!! I needed to read this today!~

    • I blog as Nony (short for aNONYmous!) so I definitely understand the embarrassment! It has taken a long time, and comments like yours that show me I’m not alone, to be willing to come out and share these things about myself under my real name!

  37. this is so my attitude – I’m hoping to pick up some tips from you that will work for me
    a friend had a bumper sticker that I always liked ‘ normal people bother me’

  38. wow….you must be my twin!

  39. ELizabeth says:

    I’ve listened to your podcasts back to back and I am convince we are the same person and we have the same sweet husband. You have literally changed my life over the past few hours. My husband was out of town this weekend and created a bunch of things to do all day Sat… And did not clean at all. Typical. You helped me take that first step and am going to make this change. It’s embarrassing. It’s time. You helped me realize that and not feel overwhelmed. Thank you so much for putting yourself out there. Thank you SO much.

  40. Omg that is so me.. not normal :P I did not grow up being clean and organized so that lovely trait has traveled into my home and I have no idea what to do about it! I don’t have people over because that would mean I had to clean.. and that would take too long.. and what if it was a last minute thing… that wouldn’t work either. Thank you so much for your podcasts! I have also read all there is about organizing and having a clean home but it has not worked for me… Why is it so hard to put stuff away after I’m done? :( ( I definitely thought I was alone in not being “clean”.

  41. Just found you, and man, you describe me exactly! I’m good with elaborate projects, not into cleaning up before or after. But the messiness gets me down, and I have been striving to do better. People who have a different kind of mind don’t get what a challenge it can be. Looking forward to exploring your blog!

  42. Linda Henderson says:

    OMG! How did you get inside my brain? Honestly, I can not believe that I’m not the only person greeting friends at the door. If they plan on an extended chat, we have to sit on the (dirty) chairs on the porch.
    My plan for this winter break was to clean a room a day. I didn’t get past the piles of paper on my living room tables. Boxes of recycle papers later, it just doesn’t look any different! I did, however, wash, dry AND fold my clothes yesterday. Probably won’t put them away though.
    I got to this blog post via the link in the Kindle version of your book. I can’t imagine how great I’ll feel when I start to process the actual book itself!
    Thanks! :-)

  43. I love your blog, one main reason is that the very popular cleaning blog that I won’t name confuses me and yours doesn’t not. I wonder it I am alone is not understanding all that zone stuff? I also love spinach but I have to say the thought of canned spinach is eeewww. I guess a normal person wouldn’t pick out a minor detail in a blog and comment on it.

  44. “You’re you. Be you. Enjoy being you, and figure out what works for you.

    This doesn’t mean we accept that “that’s just how I am” and quit trying to be better, it means that we accept how we are and find ways to improve … that work for us.”

    THIS is my new favorite quote! I have 2 special needs children at home – one of whom is schizophrenic. You have put into words what I have been trying to teach them since they were little.

    Now, off to post this on the bathroom mirror!

  45. This totally describes how my brain works. I always say “I’m wired differently.” My husband calls the distractions “catching butterflies.” I have learned, lately, to accept the fact that I am different. Yes, I zone out because I am thinking about the last time I made spinach, but it is who I am and I am learning how to work with my silly brain rather than fight against it. It took me a little over 20-years, but better late than never! lol

  46. hippychick says:

    My personal slogan is: “Fight normalcy.” Supplemented with this year’s theme: “Improvise Freely”.
    I’m feeling more liberated every day. :)

  47. Catherine says:

    I really appreciate your keeping this up (on top of having a life) because it is starting to sink in, little by little. Everytime I leave a cabinet door open, I remember your video commenting on how you could miss that.

    I’m between jobs now but recall describing myself at work as a ‘birds eye view’ ‘big picture’ kind of person. So much of homekeeping is a series of repetitive tasks (OK, boring, thankless, neverending minutiae are other words that come to mind). Nothing like the big, one-off creative projects I was getting paid to do.

    So, now even with loads of time on my hands, our house is no where near as pulled together as when I worked FT and had only week-ends to dig in and get it ready for the next week. I envision an alarm clock ‘lightening’ round in my future!

    Thanks for this support, Dana!

  48. Hi- so loving this post:) and wanting to share 2 related quotes on the def of normal:
    Normal: someone you don’t know very well.
    And Freud, even in his day, said that there is no such thing as normal; that everyone approximates in some way or another toward psychotic. Meaning- we all have a little “crazy” inside us; just a question of where and how much.
    Thanks again for being so awesome!!

  49. Angel VanDaele says:

    When did I start writing a blog? Oh wait…this is you! It just sounded so much like my life! LOL Keep up the great work! I love reading your posts.

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