I felt stressed when I let the dishes accumulate to the point of not being able to see the sink's stainless-steel bottom. Or when I left projects unfinished. Laundry, unfolded. Wispy nebulas of dust and cat hair floating across the floor, wafted along by the swish of air trailing behind me as I paced from one room to another, overwhelmed by the barrage of tasks required for the upkeep of a house. It only took a day for the workout mat to turn into a sandbox from my cat tracking litter across its forgiving surface, for dust balls to be approaching tumbleweed status. And I was the kind of person that managed to fill the sink with dishes making a single cup of tea. On laundry day (which happened about six days a week), I had delicate clothing items that needed to hang-dry on the shower railing, plus every available doorknob, for at least 24 hours. My obsession with repeatedly wiping sinks and countertops was as unproductive a habit as checking my phone 20 times per hour, just looking, for any indication that I was needed in some way, somewhere.
I'd always lived in apartments, condos, the childhood bedroom that encased my entire existence when I moved back in with my parents, unfortunately, multiple times. So this was new. The house thing. It felt big, and adult, and scary at times. I had waking nightmares of my landlord showing up unannounced, bursting through the door, and identifying me for the inner-adolescent I am, unfit to rent a house for no specific reason other than immaturity. I really felt like a kid. There remained so many tiers of adulthood to which I hadn't ascended.
To counter the inadequacy that swirled around my self-diagnosed naiveté, I became a ferocious homebody. Panicking when weeds sprang up after the last cluster of summer monsoons. Piling up todo lists for yard work and improvement ideas. Hawking Pinterest feeds until I had about 30 more DIY bird bath pics on my Garden Swag board than I would ever consider constructing. If the bed wasn't made within a half an hour of waking, life as I knew it, was over.
I wrapped the condition of my home into a reflection of my worth, so my MO became, chores first, life later. But that was bonkers. In time, I knew that home could be a cushion, a respite from the bustle of life's fullness. Things would get done when they got done, along the way, in "free" time. My home could be tidy, but lived in. Well-maintained without becoming a prison. And adulthood wouldn't be that much different, from what I was doing already.