Cleaning Is Not My Thing

August 30th, 2016

I lost a vacuum cleaner once. Well, ‘misplaced’ is probably a better word since I did eventually locate it. My husband and I were having friends over for dinner and I thought it would be a good idea to tidy up a bit. Except I couldn’t find the vacuum cleaner. I searched high and low before being forced to admit that I didn’t use that particular appliance frequently enough to know where we kept it.

Cleaning is not really my thing. Now that I’m a single parent, this presents something of a problem. I had a truly horrifying realization the other day that I was going to have to break my ten-year streak of never having cleaned a toilet. Ten years, people! Maybe more. Okay, definitely more. The state of the bathroom in my apartment when I met my husband could fairly be described as ‘questionable.’

My ex is a neat freak and we always managed a pretty good division of labor. I cooked. He cleaned. Once, out of a perverse curiosity, he experimented by not cleaning the bathroom for a while. He wanted to see how long it would take before I did it. We’ll never know the answer to that question because he broke down and scrubbed before I even noticed anything was amiss. I also didn’t notice when it was clean again. Oops.

It’s just that clutter bothers me only intermittently. From my vantage point on the living room couch from whence I’m writing this, I can see six books, two giant sticker pads, a small stuffed lion, a yellow board game piece, two reusable shopping bags, last week’s newspaper, a Barbie doll, a comic book, a package of baby wipes, and two puzzles on the floor. That feels pretty manageable.

Over time, the clutter builds up around me without my really noticing until it hits some magical, undefined tipping point at which point I suddenly go berserk and stomp through the house flinging things into drawers and shrieking that the tiny inhabitants of my home are the messiest creatures on the planet. Miss Mouse has taken to staring meaningfully into my bedroom when I make these pronouncements, though I pretend not to notice.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the sight of a clean house. It is soothing to the soul. Clear countertops, crisp vacuum lines, sparkling mirrors. It’s restful when your house looks like that. Visual clutter wears at you because there’s always a ‘to-do’ list running through your head. You’re trying to relax on the couch, but you know you should put away the laundry. You want to read a book, but the dishes in the kitchen are laughing behind your back.

Yes, ignoring household tasks is hard work, but somehow I manage.

 

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