The Fixer vs. The Cleaner by Annie Olson


catholicmom_hires_webaddressStanding at the entrance to the ‘rooms of doom’ I pause, wondering what course of action to take.  Should I enter with my sword drawn to hack away at all the debris? Or maybe turn around pretending that out of sight, out of mind will work?  Have I finally reached the end of my rope; right here, right now?  Am I ready to draw the line in the sand, throw down the gauntlet and turn this into my own personal Armageddon?  Paralyzed I stand at the door, unsure what to do.  I feel like I’ve tried it all: taking the power position, using verbal enticements, angry threats, figuring each to their own, ignoring the problem.  Nothing has worked…for me.  I have become powerless, invisible, and worse ineffective.  All I’m asking from them is a little focused orderliness and discipline in less than 150 square feet!  How did I ever end up this uncertain, mumbling to myself about living in pigsties?

In the old days I rocked.  I was known as the Fixer Mom.  From cuts and scraps to scary dreams, from homework projects to scheduling a bazillion activities, from personal life coaching to the ultimate…valid opinions on friendships.  They all came to me, looking for help, knowing that I could fix their problems.  I solved and I fixed, I was awesome.  Nothing was beyond my abilities.  I kept all the plates spinning, all the time, and everyone relied on my super Fixer expertise.  Somewhere along the line, my position as the Fixer Mom became obsolete.  I became ignorant, out of touch, insignificant to the spinning of their worlds.

I now find myself allocated to the illustrious position of Cleaner Mom.  This job consists of attempting to keep our home from being declared a toxic waste dump.  This position requires constant rounds of the house, picking up others discarded personal items and restoring them to their rightful places.  Sometimes they are gently returned, other times just thrown into the room. It all depends upon my state of mind:  frustration, anger, unselfish service, or just a plain desire to please my sense of orderliness.  Yet rarely do I feel useful, and never appreciated.

When did I become an in-betweener?  After twenty years of joyfully serving my family as a stay-at-home-wife-and-mom, I find myself on the threshold of beginning a new me, a-stay-at-home-wife-with-a-mission-and-mom-at-a-distance.  Lovingly, GOD is patiently easing me into the starting gate. Unfortunately, I am fighting HIM tooth and nail.  HE wants to dance creatively with me, and I am white knuckling onto who I think I am.  However, who I think I am is no longer necessary.  No longer are there little people running around needing fixing.  Somewhere along the way I did my job…successfully?!?  Not only do my quasi-adults-in-training want the opportunity to fix their own lives by themselves, they have started offering to help fix their friends lives too!

GOD is calling me to my next stage of serving HIM. In my sadness of letting go, and fear of having what it takes, I created a position that is of no service to anyone including myself.  As a matter of fact, my unwillingness to let go of being Fixer-Mom/Cleaner-Mom has caused a lot of the difficulties between my quasi-adults-in-training and my relationship.  They are so ready, however ill-equipped, to race towards their future, and I’m telling them to pick-up after themselves, put the lid on the toothpaste, dirty dishes go in the dishwasher.  Yikes!!  That’s pretty horrifying to think that they have all this bigness simmering, and I’m worried about the minutia.  Seriously, are there any quasi-adults-in-training out there that seem to have any conscious awareness about their rooms being a pigsty??  They grew up with order, participating in cleanliness, and just because they seem to be oblivious to it now, well…isn’t everyone at their age?

My quasi-adults-in-training have been given a solid foundation on which to build their lives.  It is time for me to have faith, in them and GOD.  My persistent prayer that they desire discipline and order in their lives has finally been answered.   JESUS revealed to me that I need to lead by example.  By being disciplined and orderly in embracing my new life chapter, I won’t have time to worry about their ‘rooms-of-doom’.  Effortlessly GOD is moving me forward and providing my quasi-adults-in-training the chance to live their lives as they see fit.

For me, I am going to my knees in prayers of thanksgiving that my LORD has a new plan for me, that HE trusts me to do a good job with HIM, and that HE has the quasi-adults-in-training covered.

Thank you St. Paul for your faithful service to our LORD, and legacy of divine instructions you gave HIS church.  The following verses have become prayer focus for myself and quasi-adults-in-training:

2 Corithians 9:8   GOD is perfectly able to enrich you with every grace, so that you always have enough for every conceivable need, and your resources overflow in all kinds of good work.     (New Jerusalem Bible)

Annie Olson is happily married to her best friend of twenty five years, and mother to two amazing women-in-training. Having come home to the Catholic faith five years ago, she is in a perpetual state of awe, that her LORD called her to HIS banquet table to celebrate with HIM. How great is my LORD!!

Copyright 2010 Annie Olson


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  1. I’m right there with you. One kid on the way out the door to college, another going to high school, a third starting grade 3 in the fall. So one less room of doom in my house, one more in a Philadelphia dorm! Great article!

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