Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My Mother- Cleaning Queen

There is no question that any "House in Progress" is not the most immaculate house on the planet. Sure, there are rooms you can keep "clean"- there is a standard of organization you can try to maintain- but no matter how hard you try, the house in progress will NOT be as clean as a house that is not actively being repaired, renovated, or restored in some way.
I tried to tell my mother this.
My mother, who lives in Michigan, flew out to visit us this weekend and see the house for the first time. And, though I tried to prepare her for the chaos she was about to encounter, she was in no way prepared.
Now, to understand my mother's version of "cleanliness" you need to understand a thing or two about how I grew up:
* We were always required to make our beds before we left the house in the morning.
* No dishes were allowed to be left in the sink. EVER.
* My father vacuumed every single day, and sometimes twice if he was bored.
* My mother has always cleaned floors by getting down on her hands and knees and scrubbing- no new-fangled mops do the job as well.
* Laundry came immediately out of the washer and put into the dryer, and then was immediately folded and put away.
There's nothing wrong with any of this... it just doesn't happen in our house right now.
We're buried in frantically fixing wood rot so we can get paint on and storm windows back up before the Minnesota winter sets in.
So, the indoor-cleaning chores sometimes take a bit of a backseat on the priority list.
Now, my mom felt bad about not being able to help us move, and she was hoping to help us with something around the house, although she doesn't know a philips-head from a flat-head. But, when tufts of dog hair and a pile of unfolded clothes greeted her in the living room, she announced her calling at our house: she must clean.
At first, we protested- Surely, she didn't want to spend her time with us cleaning. She was a guest, and my mom- not a maid. Didn't she want to have fun?
After two days of protesting, we finally gave up. I showed her the cleaning supplies and let her go. And then I realized- she was having fun. She was helping us with something we needed, doing something she was very good at.
And, I have to say, it was a most helpful house-warming gift. It's quite a relief to not have to think about all the undone chores inside while we are finishing up outside. Our floors and our kitchen have never been cleaner.
And they may never be that clean again.

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