Last night Mike and I were headed upstairs for bed after turning the lights off in the living room. He was using his phone or the monitor to light his way up the stairs and I told him, “Oh, I don't need a light, I know how many stairs and steps, I can do it in the dark.” This led to yet another conversation about my many near-OCD habits. Of course I know how many stairs there are (1 turn right 14)! I know how many stairs there are in the little mini divider steps at the Briarwood Mall here in Ann Arbor (6) even though I've been there all of four times and I usually use ramps because I have a stroller. In the house I grew up in, going downstairs to up, it was 2, turn right, 11, turn right 1. In my in-law's house it's 16 from the first to second floor but only 15 from the first floor to the basement. In our new house, which is not even finished yet, I know the ceiling height is the same as my in-laws' but there are only 14 steps (1 turn left 13), making it a steeper climb. Man, congratulations if you made it to the end of this inane paragraph.
This is not the only thing I count, nor is counting my only habit or weird quirk. Another of Mike's “favorites” is that I have to (HAVE TO) have the volume on the car radio set to a multiple of 3. This has been problematic for me at times because sometimes 6 is not quite loud enough but 9 might wake up the baby. I cannot stress enough that 7 or 8 simply won't cut it – it seriously makes me uncomfortable. I have found it helpful to plug in an iPod so I can set the radio to 6 and use the numberless volume meter. Plus, this is also an effective method for avoiding Pitbull at all costs. What is wrong with that guy, and why is he in every. single. song? Yesterday I learned that I can imitate him pretty well, but I'm not sure that it will ever be useful. But I digress. That's such a blog cliché, to digress, right? But I digress again.
Another fun thing that I obsess about? Weight distribution on my feet. This is linked to counting steps, I guess. I loathe staircases with an odd number of steps because then whichever foot I start with hits the ground and then everything is uneven. Usually the left because OF COURSE I also try to start with the same foot every time. So then I have to apply a little extra pressure to my right side and get it situated before I move on.
There are so many more! License plate equations, factoring large numbers, making 24 out of numbers. I am so bizarre.
Three questions you may have: 1) What is wrong with you? 2) How have I not noticed these habits? (If you know me pretty well, anyway) and 3) WTF does this have to do with being a mother?
- Nothing is wrong with me! I feel like I'm outing myself as a weirdo but every time I talk about this with someone they always tell me something strange about themselves to help even out the awkwardness that is me. Sometimes they are really strange, and I love it. I think the most logical answer as to why I do this is because I just do. It started when I was very young and I think it may have become a problem if it got out of control but I coped pretty well and it never really interfered with my daily life.
- I very rarely have to vocalize any of this absurdity because I do all of this stuff in my head. I can multitask in terms of counting and having a conversation. The radio thing you might notice if you're driving with me but since it's only really an issue in my own car, I'm usually controlling the radio and it doesn't come up.
- Ah, here we are. I've only recently been thinking about how these habits relate to my mom job. Basically, I wonder what habits Jack will have. And what, if anything, will I do about it?
I don't ever remember my parents noticing these behaviors, but again, they are not very noticeable, so it's not like they were ignoring me. But I wonder what I would do if at three years old, Jack started obsessing about silly things like whether the peanut butter on his toast is spread equally over every bit of bread or if his books are put away on the shelf from tallest to shortest. (Me, Mike respectively on those examples.) When is it considered being organized and methodical, and when is it obsessive? And if it's obsessive behavior, do I even care? Is it a big deal to have a few seemingly compulsive habits if they have little to no impact on the kid's socialization skills or happiness? I don't want my kid to be like everyone else's. That's no fun. I think these parts of me are interesting, and they reflect my love of numbers. Yay math!
I'm sure that some of the strange habits people have told me about would help to characterize them as well. For instance, I used to nanny for a boy who would doodle on every single piece of paper in the world, and he was super meticulous and neurotic about building these complex Lego toys with millions of pieces. I was terrible at helping him with it because I would see a piece that didn't seem to have a spot and my instinct would be to toss it in the giant bin of random Legos and never think about it again, but for him that was totally unacceptable. He's heading into his senior year of high school (holy crap) and is hoping to be an architect. It makes so much sense, people!
So far, Jack only has baby quirks but I'm intrigued already. When he's frustrated, tired, or eating, he pulls on the hair around his ears, for example. That means that at the next time he eats after a bath he already looks filthy because his hair is all clumpy and crumby. Every time we play with his magnetic alphabet, he sifts through all of them to find the W. What is he trying to tell me? I know the answer is nothing, but sometimes a mom needs to overanalyze stuff like this to make it interesting.