Actually I’m pretty much over this issue, but since I had it for so many years, I’ll post about it.
My mom had/has a specific way of folding towels. I’m still not sure if I know how she folds them, but it is something like fold them in half (making sure the tag is inside), then fold them in thirds then in half again. When I’d help her fold laundry when I was a kid and teenager I’d never do it correctly. I tried, I really tried, but never once got it right. Once I came close — and was proud of my accomplishment, but I’d done it backwards and the tag was on the outside. My mom always got upset with me and at least once said she thought I was doing it wrong on purpose.
When I moved out of my parents’ house and was able to fold towels however I wanted to fold them, I still had my mom’s frustration in my head as I’d fold towels. At first I folded them the way I wanted to fold them, ignoring my mom’s voice in my head. Then I tried to fold them like she did. Then I wondered why she folded them the ways she did — after all she’d then have to unfold them in order to hang them on the towel rack. I then came up with my own method: Fold long ways in thirds, then in half or thirds, depending on the size of the towel. There — all I had to do was undo the last fold or two to neatly hang it on the towel rack.
But still, when the time came to fold towels, I got that familiar tight feeling in my stomach — feeling that even though I knew it was silly, there was only one way to fold towels — my mom’s way. And if I didn’t fold my towels that way I was somehow inadequate.
Once, during a parent-teacher conference a teenager’s mother complained that her daughter refused to fold towels the way she folded them and suspected the daughter did it because she was passive aggressive. I sure don’t think I was passive aggressive about the towel folding — I just think it was too complicated for me to remember — and it didn’t make a lot of sense.
My mom and I have since talked about towel folding, and she agrees that my method made more sense. I think she still folds towels her way — and that is fine. I rarely fold my towels the same way twice anymore — now that I use hooks instead of towel racks. In half, in half, in half is fine with me. I think it depends on where I’m storing the towels. I no longer get the tight feeling in my stomach that I did, even a few years ago. Not sure why it went away — perhaps I just figured out how silly it was to still be upset about such a minor thing.