Monday, September 7, 2015

I Finally Get why I Have to Clean the House

I am not good at cleaning. I can straighten admirably, but I am only serviceable at cleaning. I have long struggled with the impact this deficit has on my validity as a human being.

According to many marketing campaigns I should not only like cleaning but delight in it. It should add a spring to my step and a song to my heart. Apparently, there are even some brooms and mops whose efficacy is so great they can pull double duty as dancing partners while still buffing the floor to a blinding shine. When I buy these brooms, however, I am amazed at their lack of ballroom experience, and their stark ordinariness in comparison to all the other mops and brooms that are in cleaning supply limbo in my basement. I fall for it though, time and again. I am an easy sell since I will try anything to invigorate myself to battle dust, mold and grime. Time and time again, though, I am left disillusioned and depressed as I am reminded that a sponge is really just a sponge, no matter how fancy it looks; and no matter how hopeful I am, a sponge will not propel itself. No matter how shiny and full of promise the tools of the trade are, I still have to use them.

My resistance to the simple necessity of cleaning is not rooted in any complex psychological darkness or any sense of rebellion against a perfect mother; it simply stems from the fact that I find the whole endeavor interminably boring. There are literally thousands of things I would rather do. And that confession immediately reveals the simple truth that I do get what it's like to be a teenager.

I am petulant in my refusal to clean on a regular or even minimally acceptable basis. I am singularly focused on that knitting project that I have to finish before I mop. I am lazy in my insistence that I will just watch this one episode before I vacuum. I am too tired from work to break out the Endust and the microfiber cloth. I am too stressed at all that is expected of me to engage with the Windex. I am overwhelmed by the enormity of the filth that I do not know where to begin.

Singularly Focused
Too Tired
Too Stressed

Sound familiar?

And of course I feel better once I clean. I feel accomplished and self-righteous and proud and competent and, for a shimmering instant, whole. And I promise myself never to let it go that long again, to never let it get that far out of my control. I vow to do a little bit each day and have a weekly schedule and keep up with the routine. And of course I keep none of my promises; because there are so many more interesting things to do.

So Teenagers #1 & #2, I do get it. I know you think I am full of shit and my cute little cleaning metaphor proves nothing because your life is so much more complicated than Swiffering. And you will never admit that I understand because that might open the door to the possibility of change or the concession that I am right about something. I get that too. But I do get why you don't want to do your homework, and why you don't want to read Frankenstein, and why you don't want to show your work on your Algebra II worksheet.

I get it. But there are things in life that you have to do, even if you'd rather stick needles in your eyes (yes, that's the 3,754th on the list of things I'd rather do than pick up a toilet brush). Have to's will always be there, they will often suck, but they are rarely as bad as you thought, and completing them can actually make you feel good about yourself.

How's that registering on your bullshit meter? About as high as everything else that you won't understand until you do; and then you will thank me silently so I will never know that you know I was right.


  1. Wait, it's not just me? Phew!!

  2. The only room in the house that is never in chaos mode is my office. When the rest of the house is completely out of control, I live here. There's a bed, and I sleep here when it is really bad, only venturing out for coffee, vodka, and/or food when I suspect I won't be spotted by the feral humans living upstairs. After a handful of years doing this, the husband and the offspring are only now realizing that they need to CLEAN UP AFTER THEMSELVES.