This article made the rounds on my FB last week, and I do and do not agree with it.* I am totally behind the “for me” part – the concept that you are not cleaning to do me a favor, but because you are a human being who shares this domicile and it’s the right thing to do. But they are cleaning for me, because I care and they don’t – bottom line.
This morning, I felt pretty good about my body. That’s a rare occurrence these days. But my saggies seemed to be (somewhat) retreating, and my ab muscles tighter, and I’ve lost a couple of pounds (from my boobs, says the measuring tape, but I like to think perhaps a fraction of an inch came from my abdomen). I looked in the mirror and saw a shadow where my 6-pack used to live. Yes, the cellulite on my thighs is still there, but in these pants it’s less jodhpur-y. (Also, hey – I can get into these pants again! These are prepregnancy pants, though admittedly not one of the smaller pairs.) I looked in the mirror and thought I saw me in there. So while I am not a selfie kinda person, I took one – because the mirror sometimes lies, but my camera doesn’t.
And at the last second, I caught sight of the mirror. The one the cleaning service left sparkling a mere three days ago.
There are things I care deeply about that my family does not. Kitchen floors that are not covered in crumbs and goo. Household surfaces (counters, doorknobs, walls, light switches) that are not sticky. Carpets free of Legos, wooden blocks, and other injurious toys. Storing clean clothing in closets and drawers (on hangers, please, not wadded up on the floor) and dirty clothes in the clothes hamper – not because I get that bent out of shape over wrinkles (exhibit A up there) but simply so I can find the damn things. Really, just putting things back where they go so they do not become lost forever (exhibit B, too many to list). Family dinnertime, in which everyone sits around the same table at a set time, eating healthful food and conversing with each other instead of watching things on a screen, then pitches in to wash up the dishes and put away the uneaten food before it becomes hard and crusty. And a bathroom unfettered by toothpaste globs and spatters.
In the Before Time, I had a system. A routine. A place for everything, and everything in its place. When I needed something, I knew exactly where to look. When I finished with it, I put it away again. I came home, worked out, fixed and ate dinner (at the dining room table, not in front of the television, ya heathen), cleaned up the dishes, relaxed for a while, then showered and went to bed. On Thursdays I cleaned the entire apartment, took out the trash, and washed and put away the laundry. (The whole process took about two hours, because I tidied up after myself the rest of the week.) Each spring and fall, I flipped my wardrobes and deep-cleaned everything. (I even scrubbed the closet shelves, and the storage boxes under the bed. Inside and out.)
I am not asking for things to be like they were in the Before Time (though man, would that be nice), but I do wish they cared about some of it. Any of it.
I’m not just talking about at home, either. Lately, my daughter has taken to throwing trash out of the car. She does not understand why I get so upset about this.
“It’s trash, Mama. I’m throwing it away.”
“Yes, love, but we put trash in the trash can, not on the ground.”
“Because if you put it on the ground, someone else has to clean it up, and that’s not nice.”
Indeed, why? Why is it so wrong to ask someone else to do your dirty work? Happens at home all the time, right?
And if they’re doing something not because they feel it is important, but to please me, then are they not doing it for me?
I realize that I have…exacting ideas about clean. Like many people who have suffered a particular kind of trauma in the past, I have a high level of anxiety and an obsession with cleanliness to which most people I know cannot relate. Not even the cleaning service I hired** cleans to my standards. But I don’t have time to clean to anyone’s standards these days, so I grit my teeth and deal. No point in getting bent out of shape over it when my housemates are just going to turn it into this in 72 hours.
But some level of overlap is needed. I do not want my children to grow up slobby. Nor do I want them to be inconsiderate of others. I would like them to grow up to share a domicile with another person (I want grandbabies, dammit), so I want them to learn from an early age that certain behaviors and habits make for good housemates. Good citizens. Good people.
*I can’t even get to the gender focus aspect of the article, because I am stuck on the part about who cleans what and why. I know there is a gender-fueled argument behind why I am the one who cares about clean, and in past relationships that’s held water (coughcoughmymarriagecoughcough). But that’s not applicable here.
**I was interested to see that the author of the article I linked also hired a cleaning service, for pretty much the same reasons I did. Though I went with a biweekly cleaning, and really kind of wish I’d sprung for weekly visits. Because I still don’t have time to get everything done; I merely no longer have to shower in a moldy tub now.