I love to have a clean house. I love clean towels. I love clean sheets. I love floors clean enough to eat off of (not that I’m in the habit of eating off of floors, but you know). I love a clutter-free living space, and I wish everything in the world was lemon-scented.
Clean is good.
Unfortunately, Clean has a kryptonite. And that kryptonite likes to call me Mama.
Let’s be clear: It’s not that cleaning was my favorite activity, pre-children. I am a basically lazy human. While I like things TO BE clean, I wasn’t necessarily all that interested in ACTUALLY CLEANING THEM. I mean, I would do it, because I’ve yet to figure out how to WISH things into tidiness. But it wasn’t something I LOVED.
And then I had kids.
So take an activity like cleaning—which I already wasn’t all that wild about—and consider the cost/benefit ratio. I hate to clean, but I like things to BE clean, so I do it. I spend whatever time it takes, and then I have a clean house. It works.
But once you add kids into the equation, everything is skewed. I hate to clean, and now I have to not only clean larger messes, but fit it into an already overpacked schedule. Then, once I’ve finally managed it, how long does my house stay clean?
(If you said: For less time than it took me to read that sentence, you are CORRECT!)
So what happens? I continue to change sheets and towels. That’s easy. I continue to clean bathrooms, and the kitchen, because that’s just gross if I don’t. It’s not like my house is a PIT or anything. But my house IS two things:
1) It is cluttered. I throw away items by the bagsful in a seemingly endless stream, and yet the trash factory produces more and more, all accompanied by protestations of, “Don’t throw that out, it’s MY FAVORITE!”
2) It doesn’t have the cleanest floors ever.
We used to have a dog, and I miss him. Dogs are very useful creatures to have in a house with small children. Children are perforated, you know. You hand them something to eat and it really LOOKS LIKE they’re just happily munching and that food is entering their stomachs. But a closer look reveals that they’ve simply broken down the foodstuffs into irregular chunks and left them either in a ring around a kitchen chair or in a trail throughout the house. A dog can take care of that for you.
We don’t have a dog anymore. What we have is really gross floors.
Oh, sure, the Dustbuster gets a good workout. And I even remember to vacuum semi-regularly. But there’s a lot of wood and tile on the main level of my house, and I hate to mop. Hate it.
But there is food. And mud. Lord, the mud. And grass. And other stuff I can’t identify. I don’t know. The floors are not the finest testament to good housekeeping. We do not adhere to the 5-second rule, here at my house. We adhere to the OHMYGOD DON’T EAT THAT IT TOUCHED THE FLOOR, THROW IT AWAY THROW IT AWAY rule.
Tonight, I reached the threshhold at which I can no longer stand to live in this house. I’m left with two choices: Move, or clean.
It was a tough choice, but I decided to go with cleaning.
As soon as the kids left with their dad, I got to work. I went through and picked up everything that didn’t belong on the floor and prepared to vacuum. I got out my twelve-ton Kirby vacuum and checked the bag and started vacuuming at one end of the house and worked my way to the other end. I was feeling good and happy and productive until I worked my way back to the kitchen.
While working the hose tool into a crevice, I pulled back and tried to re-angle myself. In doing so, I held the tool at a funny angle, sort of up into the air…
… and suddenly there was a tremendous CRACK and CLATTER…
… and after a moment I stood up from the fetal position I’d assumed and realized what had happened.
I’d stuck the vacuum tool into the (running) ceiling fan.
(And I’m allowed to raise children. Think about that for a minute.)
I examined the vacuum and found the tool unharmed. Rather, I found the tube piece unharmed. The actual TOOL that had been at the END of the tube? Was missing. Gone. Vanished. Vaporized in the ceiling fan blades, perhaps.
Okay; vaporization seemed extreme. I started looking around my kitchen. I checked the sink several times, sure that’s where it had landed. It had not. I widened my search circles. The vacuum tool remained hidden. I finished vacuuming without it.
An hour later, I found it underneath my roll of paper towels. Obviously.
Once the first floor was vacuumed, I started mopping. After that I did dishes and started laundry and cleaned the downstairs bathroom. And when the kids returned from dinner, the floors were dry, pristine, and all relocated furniture had been set back to rights.
Within 60 seconds of their return, Monkey had left a sticky trail of chocolate ice cream across the kitchen tile. I only asked him to sit down with it twice, so I guess that’s what I get.
It’s just so little return on my investment, sometimes. I want to savor the lemon scent, not return to my life of being hunched over with a Clorox wipe in my hand, muttering under my breath.
You should come over. Like, um, in the morning. While the floor is still kind of clean. I’ll lock the kids outside, and we can have breakfast off of the tiles that are still sanitized. It’ll be great. Afterwards, we can experiment with throwing different objects into the ceiling fan.