Tag Archives: OCD

The Ledgend of Big Kevin’s Green Hairbrush

The Ledgend of Big Kevin’s Green Hairbrush

I love my pillow, my Mineral Area Football League T-shirt, my blue sweats of unknown origin, and a white blanket that I lovingly call my ‘stink blanket’, but not because it stinks (please do not mistakenly refer to it as my stinky blanket, because I consider that highly offensive). Due to my propensity for being slightly quirky, my emotional attachment to a few inanimate objects will surprise exactly zero percent of people. However, revealing the odd relationship my logical, sensible, meat-and-potatoes husband has with his beloved hairbrush is perhaps another matter altogether.

For two decades I have shared my life with this strong, silent, giant of a man. We have hadahairbrush4 many ups and downs, laughter and tears, good times and bad but through it all one thing has remained constant—his green hairbrush. This simple grooming tool has stood the test of time and while its value to Big Kevin remains a mystery to our family, it is something we certainly all have learned to respect (sort of).

When the kids started getting to an age where they were able to get themselves ready in the mornings, trouble started brewing. Inevitably, one of them would carry the brush off to another bathroom and Kevin could be heard yelling, “Where is my hairbrush?!” There wasn’t exactly a shortage of hairbrushes in the house, so we all sort of blew him off at first. “Just use a different one,” we would rebut. He wouldn’t hear of it, “I DON’T WANT TO USE A DIFFERENT ONE! I WANT TO USE MY HAIRBRUSH!” Inevitably, he would go to the store and buy half-dozen hairbrushes and proclaim that anyone in the house could use any hairbrush, except his green one. Life would be good for a while, but then one of us would slipup and use his brush and forget to return it to its proper location and we would all be scrambling and blaming one another for the infraction.

ahairbrush3My oldest daughter, Riley, was blessed with an amazing mane of hair. She also sheds like a Sasquatch in full molt. She would often use Kevin’s brush to flat-iron her hair and leave wads of long strawberry blonde hair tangled in the bristles. “SOMEONE HAS BEEN USING MY HAIRBRUSH,” he would accuse as he extracted the hairs. We all know he hates for us to use it, yet like moths to the flame…

Let me clarify. Kevin is not a Type-A personality who has to have everything in its place like some sort of Sleeping with the Enemy character. I take his tools and don’t put them back. He can have his underwear and socks crammed in the same drawer and if the glasses are put in the cabinet up-side down, right-side-up or a combination of both, he absolutely does not care. This is what makes this random hairbrush OCD so baffling (and funny) to all of us. I have used his toothbrush on many occasions with not so much as a grunt or a growl from him. But the hairbrush–it’s sacred.

One evening several years ago, after the hairbrush had been tracked back to one of the kids’ bathrooms and Kevin reiterated the off-limits hairbrush rule for everyone for the six-hundred and thirty-sixth time, Evan told Kevin, “You are like Larry the Cucumber with that stupid hairbrush.” He produced a YouTube video of Larry the Cucumber singing a dreadful song about losing his hairbrush. It was epic and quickly became Kevin’s theme song for times his brush went missing.  (You can watch Larry sing in the Hairbrush Song by clicking the link below):


This hairbrush is ragged.  Its once shiny green color is chipped and faded.  It has been burnt with a hot flat-iron (for which I have no comment), and the bristles are worn and frazzled.  It has been left behind and retrieved home.  Our family has fought about it, laughed about it, sang silly songs about it and spent countless hours looking for this old green hairbrush.  As our 19th wedding anniversary approaches, I realize how I am not so uahairbrush1nlike this raggedy old brush.  I am scarred, sagging, wrinkled, and frazzled, but Big Kevin is still hanging in there with me!  I know that I am not the shiny young thing he married so many years ago, but I know he still loves me.  I don’t understand why the man loves his stupid green hairbrush and there are many days I don’t understand why he loves someone as fallible as me.  All I know is that I am extremely grateful that he can value something seemingly so insignificant and I am also pretty okay with him hanging onto that silly hairbrush!

Growing Up April Fresh and Squeaky Clean

Growing Up April Fresh and Squeaky Clean


My mom is the Chuck Norris of clean. Two completely random and separate interactions with my dear sisters reminded me of the ultra-shiny-hand-washed-hung-dry-neatly-pressed-streak-free bond we share.  In a recent conversation about Santa’s reindeer with my sister, Kim, (this is not even close to being in the top 100 of strange conversations we have had) we discovered that we both grew up feeling sorry for the reindeer Comet.  We were operating under the assumption that all the other reindeer had been given cool names and he was named after an ordinary household cleanser.   Neither could relate a fanciful flying reindeer to a spectacular celestial light streaking through the night sky.  We both, however, could relate to the extraordinary things Mom could do with an ordinary household cleanser. A few days following our reindeer conversation, my younger sister, Emily, posted this Facebook status:



It seemed fitting that I should pay homage to the pint-sized woman who can scrub an entire house from top to bottom, do seven loads of laundry (a load consists of washed dried folded/hung/pressed and put away) and put a streak-free shine on Mr. Clean’s bald head all before his feet hit the floor in the morning.  Lessons we have learned from Mother Judy:  mom

1.       “A little bit of sprayin’ and a whole lot of wipin’”  Mom’s motto she applied to little hands trying to be helpers and then later to big hands just doing a half-assed job on assigned chores.  Pledge furniture polish was the easiest to overuse, but the phrase was also regularly applied to Windex, SoftScrub, shoe polish, Spot Shot, and a variety of multipurpose cleaners.  Approximately 99.9% (see addendum below) of all household cleaning chores carried out by her offspring were subsequently deemed “pretty good” and then totally redone by the Queen of Clean.

2.      Clean with the spirit of a ninja warrior.  All members of our family have been subjected to the svelte ways of Mom in motion.  While enjoying an ice-cold beverage, one must only lose physical/visual contact with the glass for a split second for her to strike.  In the time required to blink, the glass has been dumped, rinsed, and tucked into the dishwasher.  The ninja technique also is applied to bowls of cereal, half-eaten sandwiches, partially read newspapers and unmade beds left unattended for early morning trips to the bathroom.

3.      Mom and a toothbrush are a force to be reckoned with.  Many tough jobs have been tackled by mom and a toothbrush.  Grout, tiles, floors, stoves, etc. have been subjected to her fury against the grime.  However, one cannot fully grasp the mightiness of Mom welding this seemingly harmless tool, except those of us who have stood before her having failed the “oral hygiene inspection”.  The kind, docile creature transforms into a self-appointed Cavity Creep assassin.  Having to endure a tooth-brushing session at the hands of this well-meaning fanatic is comparable to what I imagine it would be like to have your mouth (teeth, gums, and tongue) scrubbed thoroughly with a Brillo-pad.

4.      A dusty car might as well be a rusty car.  My car is an extension of my family’s hectic life and usually contains all of or a combination of the following:  basketballs, socks, sweatshirts, electronics, snacks, lip gloss, bottled water, crumbs, textbooks, book bags, golf clubs, work stuff, and hair and makeup accessories.  My mom’s car contains floor mats and a garage door opener.  Not only is the inside of her car in showroom condition, but should a layer of dust accumulate on the outside of the car, she takes the time to “dust” the body of the vehicle.  Riding in my car makes my mom nervous.

5.      If it cannot be cleaned, it must be destroyed.  The large ranch-style home we lived in when my little sister Emily was born had very nice dark brown carpeting.  Although the carpeting had been recently installed by the previous owners of the house and was in tip-top shape, it was a source of loathing for Mom.  While most people would appreciate a floor covering that didn’t readily show dirt, this trait was an unforgivable flaw in her eyes.  No amount of cleaning, scrubbing, or vacuuming would squelch Mom’s distrust of what the brown carpeting was hiding.  Plans to replace the carpet were put-off by my step-dad and Mom’s patience was wearing thin.  As growing babies do, Emily began scooting around on the floor to explore the world around her and that was a game changer.  Emily’s tiny white socks were dingy where she had scooted on the floor. The tiny defiled socks were proof positive that Mom’s suspicions were not unfounded and she took matters into her own hands-literally.  Early on a Saturday morning, I awoke to quite a commotion.  Mom, with a crowbar, box cutter and her tiny little hands was ripping the carpet up, leaving only the purple padding.  While making her feel MUCH better, the stunt ended in a lengthy stalemate with my step-dad.  Several weeks passed in the pristine house with the purple padding on the floor, before my step-dad relented and had new carpeting installed.

Clean facts worthy of sharing:

  • Mom was chastised by her beloved dog’s veterinarian for giving the pooch a bath EVERY SINGLE DAY!  (Please see photo of the dog’s reaction when she retrieves his tub from the laundry room)


    Hopper hiding at bath time.

  • When lice broke out in my sister’s elementary class, she washed the girl’s hair with the medicated shampoo so many times that her scalp started to crack and bleed.  Bedding was burned.
  • The obsession with cleaning often spills out in how Mom communicates.  Actual quote:  “I don’t think he is the shiniest tool in the shed.”
  • While bathing us, Mom used to put our shoestrings in the bathtub with us.  The only things worse than dirty shoestrings were dirty shoes.  She polished white tennis shoes each night.
  • Mom’s doomsday preparation list would include:  bleach, SpotShot, Windex, a dust mop and a broom.

Unfortunately, for Mom, her OCD cleaning gene is recessive…very recessive.  She had three chances to see her affinity for the super clean manifest itself in the lives of her offspring and none of us have it.  We seem to have picked up some of her habits and at times we get a little cranky when the laundry piles up or we fall behind on the household chores. However, I can (and do) go to bed with the throw pillows in disarray and the kitchen floor un-swept.  After cooking a delicious meal, Kim can have a martini before the kitchen is clean and is perfectly content to allow someone else to clean it, while she has a martini.  Emily’s movements can often be tracked from the time she enters the house by the things she leaves along the way…shoes…purse….scarf and I am 100% certain she has never dusted the outside of her car.

I used to stress over thinking Mom was going to be disappointed in me, if she discovered toothpaste not rinsed out of the sinks or that the load of clothes I have in the washer has to be washed again because I forgot to put it in the dryer (yesterday or possibly the day before that).  How could this super woman who can clean, work, teach, workout, and meet the needs of so many people around her feel anything other than shame in having a daughter like me???  It would be just like my pint-sized dynamo of a mother to give me an out; to magnify my perceived domestic shortcomings as strengths which she lacked.  In fact, that is exactly what she did.

It wasn’t long after the birth of my youngest child that I attended a mother-daughter dinner, where my mom was the speaker for the evening.  As a dynamic speaker and teacher in women’s Christian ministry, I was prepared for an uplifting and powerful message from Mom.  I was not expecting to hear her share the following story with the audience:

I am so lucky to have my oldest daughter, Karri, here with me tonight.  I am even luckier to have her as my daughter.  It is hard to believe that she is a mother of three children now and she is an amazing mom.  (I am now thinking, where is she going with this?  I sometimes suck on Sophi’s pacifier when she drops it on the ground and stick it back in her mouth.  There is nothing amazing about that).  In fact, I wish that I could have been more like the mom she is when she was growing up.  She became a mother when she was fairly young.  I remember one particular day when I stopped by her little rental house and I went in the front door and there were toys scattered all over the living room.  I continued through the house and on the kitchen table there were two bowls where she and my granddaughter, Riley, had eaten cereal. (Great, she is up there on that stage telling them what a lousy housekeeper I am).  The laundry room had several piles of clothes needing to be laundered.  Where do you think I found her?  She was in the backyard, sitting in a tiny sandbox building sandcastles with her daughter.  You see, ladies, there will always be things to pick up, laundry that needs washed and dishes to do, but there are only so many moments in which we can build sand castles. I wish I had built more sandcastles. 

Addendum:  After consulting with my sisters, I was informed that my estimate of 99.9% of the chores were redone by Mom is incorrect and the actual amount was 110%.


01/01/2013Spending New Year's Day stripping wallpaper and cleaning in Emily's new home.

Spending New Year’s Day stripping wallpaper and cleaning in Emily’s new home.

Working and rockin' her skinny jeans

Working and rockin’ her skinny jeans