You wouldn't know if you walked through my front door right now - but I am a bit compulsive when it comes to cleaning my house. Unfortunately, with four children and two dogs and several massive home improvement projects going on simultaneously, I have had to find ways to cope with my cluttered surroundings.

When I say "compulsive," I mean I can't just start picking up the mess whereever the mess lies. I have to start on one end of the house (always the same end) and work my way through the entire house - dusting, straightening, vacuuming. Always in the same order. Knowing that my house is currently in disarray causes a physical reaction - I get agitated and stressed. I don't sleep well and even my thought patterns are more disconnected when I know my house is a mess versus when I know it's clean. Sounds a little crazy, I know (imagine how my family feels). But if you asked my mother, she probably never could have told you I would suffer from this affliction. See, this behavior developed much later in life - much to her disappointment, I'm sure.

When I was single, it wasn't a problem. Even once I had been married - no problem. But as children came and grew and added their stuff to the pile, my compulsion has become a bit harder to manage. Throw in the constant construction and there have been days when my husband would like to have me committed.

Then one day I had a rather brief but insightful conversation with a friend of mine who also has younger children. The topic didn't have to do with clutter or messy husbands - but how our personal identities must continually evolve. And I realized, I was no longer a single woman or young wife. I was a mother of four very active and growing children and I would have to adjust my own attitudes and behaviors if we were going to live together peacefully.

My growing pains aren't unlike the pains we face as a city, state or nation. When we were younger, we remember things being a certain way. Perhaps they stay that way even into young adulthood. But eventually, we have to cope with the fact that our world is constantly changing and growing. We have to adjust our attitudes and behaviors to survive.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think one should compromise their value system. But we have to understand that not every individual in our country, heck - our neighborhood - has the exact same value system as our own. We have to find way to live together peacefully.

Whitney Lee is a wife, mother of four and executive director of Erath County Meals on Wheels. She is also a member of the Empire-Tribune's community columnists. Her column appears on the third Sunday of every month in Lifestyles.