So, we hate housework. We think we have some higher purpose in life. And we think staying home to do the housework and take care of others is lower status work.
We also, it seems, disparage the idea of being organised… as exemplified in the attitude I heard expressed in a lift one day: “My friend is so organised she makes me sick.” Being organised is uncool (at the same time as being a target of covert envy).
All of this makes for a pretty toxic way of living: we either live in mess, or we keep things tidy resentfully. And we either live in chaos, or we pretend that we are not organised, so as to appear creative and spontaneous.
So here I sit on a Sunday morning, with a set of lists made for the whole week (in the central black Moleskine by which my life is conducted). I know what we will be having for supper next Sunday. I have a set of outfits in my cupboard all made up and ready to be taken out each night for the next day. And I’m proud of all that. It takes work, but it removes stress. So, uncool I am and always will be.
The other day, I got a compliment. At my son and his friend’s swimming lesson, I had – as usual- post-lesson snacks for both of them in the bag of towels and caps and such. Jack’s friend’s dad said: “You are so organised – you always remember the snacks.” So I said, no not really, I’m not that organised and trotted out a whole bunch of reasons why these snacks had somehow appeared there by magic, as a side-effect of having to pack things the night before. So why reject the compliment and pretend I am something I am not?
Part of it is the cultural (or gender) reflex of turning down a compliment – but part of it is a very deep sense I have that it is fundamentally uncool to be organised. Cool is creative and spontaneous and a bit scatty. Remembering the snacks every single time (yes, really) is just boring. But the kids count on those snacks: they are part of the pleasure of the swimming lesson for them. So organised is also useful and “good” – a very old-fashioned concept.