Out of order
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
I strive for an orderly life. It’s less chaotic that way. Besides, with order comes power. The power of predictability. With predictability comes calmness and reduced stress. And that leads to order.
You see how that came full circle? Just like the circle of life.
Which is exactly where my quest for order originated: with my offspring. With each addition to our family, my husband and I found our power wane and our grip on an orderly household slip further away, just beyond our grasp.
By the time we were outnumbered by the little beings who share our DNA, any semblance of order had slid into the abyss of that great entity known as quality family time.
And then, out of pure necessity, we got organized – or made an attempt anyway. It was either that or surrender my sanity or never find a pair of matching socks again.
I had more gimmicks and schemes for organizing my household than I had LEGOs on the living room floor – and that’s saying something. Each member of the family had an assigned color, which correlated to drinking cups, storage bins, toothbrushes, towels, T-shirts and any other number of household necessities that can and do get misplaced and messed up in untidy households.
Likewise, a busy, organized household must establish a proficient way of managing and maximizing time. Morning showers, for instance, are scheduled to the millisecond in order to accommodate each person and ensure that the last shower-taker of the day has access to the luxury of the limited commodity known as hot water.
This is important. I should know. I am often the last shower-taker.
Morning routines are critical to successfully getting everyone out the door and to where they need to be by the designated time they need to be there. My morning routine is a well-established, artfully-executed work of time management. I move from task to task with the proficiency of a ninja warrior on the hunt, except without any swords or nunchucks. My hands are my weapon of choice – for grooming, dressing, making the bed and, most importantly, holding my cup of coffee.
My tasks are performed in an orderly order. One leads to the other like a well-oiled machine. Unless – as I recently discovered – the order is interrupted.
This happened one day last week. I don’t remember the reason for the exact interruption. I do know it was initiated by one of the offspring I alluded to earlier. Suffice to say it was 7:13 a.m. — someone needed something by 7:14 and only mom could find this critical article. And it was an emergency. Of course it was.
I leapt to my child’s rescue like a supermom, sans cape. I found the lost item, probably in the exact spot where it was supposed to be. Then I returned to my routine.
The interruption threw me off, although I didn’t realize it at the time. When looking for the lost item, I grabbed a cup of coffee, which is a deviation from my norm. Usually, my husband brings me a cup. This slight change was enough to push the universe off course. I was in uncharted territory.
It wasn’t until after I’d dropped my son at school, ran errands, chatted with numerous people and returned home that I realized I’d forgotten to complete one tiny morning task: brushing my teeth.
It was a minor oversight, but who forgets to brush her teeth? A gal who has preemptively jumped to the coffee stage, putting her brazenly out of order – that’s who. I suppose I should be glad I’m still alive. You don’t mess with morning routines without expecting major repercussions, not the least of which could be halitosis. That, and morning breath.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.