You know you have been living in squalor when your kid comes home from school and says, “It feels good when the house is clean. Thanks, Mom.” I mean really, how many times have you heard “thank you” from your kids for clearing a path through the house, much less from your teenagers? My point exactly.
My response was cool and thoughtfully calculated, at a time when my premenopausal urges sometimes border on the insane. Cry or kill—those are generally my options. More often lately, however, it is wallowing in nostalgia for my lost years with my babies.
So, I made no sudden movements, like tearfully yanking the kid in for a hug or anything, which would have only denied me any further glimpses of gratitude. I did not crumple to the floor, though my pride took a step forward ready to defend my honor and a somewhat precariously perched feeling of self-worth, despite the generous compliment I had just been handed. I also, mind you, held my tongue and did not roll out a list of the minutia that made up my day, a day which, between you and me, started on my hands and knees beneath the toilets and ended in scraping at least ten years of scum from the shower walls and floors. And, with a modicum of self-pity, I did not even voice what had me lugging the vacuum cleaner from one room to the next or excavating mountains of laundry, or staring wide-eyed at a stack of bills and managing my family’s school, work, and social calendars, or removing enough dust from a ceiling to knit a sweater. These daily rituals would only bore them. Besides, most days they stand patiently aside as I scurry about the kitchen, the laundry room, and the closet anyway, while they text no less than a small army of friends and then casually ask, “So, what’s for dinner?” If little else, I suppose I have taught them to run quickly and to fend for themselves.
I ask myself this question: Woman, what has you tied up in a knot so tight that you are spending your days making a list of the lists you have to make? For those who fail to see my point, allow me to clear it up for you and for me.
I am so busy always trying to get ahead of the laundry that I might as well pitch a tent in what is arguably the highest trafficked room in the house. This is due to the fact that said laundry, though folded and hung, rarely makes it to its “rightful” place.
I am so busy running … to the human food/toiletries/hardware store, the feed store, the mechanic (this is where any one of our vehicles resides at any given time), the doctor, the emergency room, the doctor again, the football/baseball/basketball/soccer practices and games, and just for fun … more practices... the old school, the new school, the old front of the new school, the dark and creepy basement of the old school where I, and a smattering of other mothers, dig for/plan for/and complete an ungodly amount of holiday ornaments for those most fortunate young souls who will make our hard-earned volunteerism all worthwhile for a low, low price … and, that place you take your dog when he’s getting old – is officially old – isn’t coming back... that other place you take other people’s dogs, cats, whatever when you cannot possibly house/clean/or feed even one more … well, maybe one more.
I am so busy that my kids take notice when I clean house.
I am so busy that I have forgotten, as I sometimes do, why I do it at all.
"A clean house" is a clear mind, a fresh start, an opportunity to remind myself that …
A) Dusting isn’t so bad, but is perhaps better left to those who give a rat’s …
B) "Life", is indeed, "what happens while you’re making other plans."
And... C) Raising kids is very much like being pecked to death by a chicken, but what cute little chickens they are who sometimes say, “Thank you.”