I’m not much of a housekeeper. No, you don’t have to check the archives. Yes, I did say in an earlier blog that I’m not much of a cook, either. As my grandmother was fond of saying, “I have my good faults and my bad faults.” Back to the topic at hand- I’m organized. I dislike clutter. I usually take care of dishes and laundry in a timely manner. However, I’m not one of those people who waxes and polishes and worries about streaks in the windows. I don’t keep a different type of cleaner for every room in the house. I don’t have lots of cleaning tools. What I do have is a bottle of Lysol, a few rags, a broom, a scrub brush, a duster, and a vacuum cleaner. I use all of them from time to time. Honest. It’s just that I have so many other things to do that are more important, more enjoyable, and more rewarding. That’s why I have cobwebs next to my television. That’s why all of my baseboards need to be cleaned. That’s why my kitchen floor is a little sticky.
It’s not that I don’t know how to clean and clean quite thoroughly. I worked as a professional housekeeper for several years. I had ten regular clients and others on a waiting list for special occasions. Most of my clients had beautiful homes. I polished and waxed and even did windows. I loved my job at the time. I had flexible hours, worked for good people, and enjoyed seeing that “model home” look when I finished. I didn’t have to see it messed up again the very next day. I didn’t have to pick up after anyone. I didn’t have to organize. I just arrived once a week and cleaned.
Maybe I’d have a better perspective on my own house if I just “arrived once a week and cleaned”. Instead I clean a little, do something else, clean a little, go to work, clean a little, do something else. By the time I’ve cleaned a little in each room I not only can’t tell where I started, but anything I did needs to be done again. I never get that feeling of accomplishment that I did when I was cleaning for others because the job is never done!
I wonder if my mother’s generation felt that way about cleaning. My mother cleaned constantly. She moved furniture. She dusted corners. She scrubbed. She mopped. She polished. She waxed. And yet I can never remember her complaining. Oh, she complained if we got things too dirty or tracked mud on the kitchen floor. But I can’t remember hearing her say “I hate to clean!” That’s practically my mantra!
I’ve mentioned before that we had a neighbor who ironed everything because she was phobic about germs. Well, if you thought ironing underwear was a bit over the edge, you should have watched her clean. She washed the walls every week and mopped the floors every day. She washed and starched and ironed curtains. She polished everything that could shine. And she killed every living organism that could possible creep into a nook or cranny!
Most men don’t understand cleaning. It’s women’s work. It’s something they do occasionally “to help out”. It’s never anything they feel responsible for or take control of or find a way to do better. And they always want you to be grateful and say they did a good job!
I suppose I could be a better housekeeper if I spent less time in the garden. I could be better if I didn’t have cats shedding and knocking things on the floor. I could be better if I didn’t live in the country on a dirt road that sends up a cloud of dust every time a car goes by. I could be a great housekeeper if I changed my way of life. I guess that’s why I’m NOT. People, especially women, have to have priorities. Cleaning is somewhere near the bottom of my list. Whoever said “cleanliness is next to Godliness” to justify their obsession with Windex was using the wrong Bible. The Bible talks about cleaning up my soul, my lifestyle, my thoughts, not my messy office! I don’t want my children or my grandchildren or my friends to remember what a clean house I had. I want them to remember something I wrote, or something I created, or something I did for the community, or something I taught them. Cleanliness? It’s next to impossible, and not worth the trouble anyway.