Monday, September 12, 2005

white glove test

i remember my mom saying that she would never want a house that was so big that she couldn't clean it herself. that made a lot of sense to me. it didn't occur to me until later in life that that's why people hire maids and cleaning services. but though i may one day have the means to hire someone to clean up after me, i don't think i'll be using that option.

i think my mom's concern was privacy. but i think that there is value in cleaning up after yourself. whether or not you enjoy cleaning up, i think there is a certain amount of valuable humility to be gained from scrubbing your own toilet and encountering your own shed hairs in the dustpan. i notice that i have this strong desire to remain grounded and humble because the thought of me ever thinking my excrement doesn't stink disgusts me. so despite the fact that cleaning is therapeutic for me because it gives me time to think, i like doing it because i am proud that i take care of my space well and that i am not a spoiled messy brat.

now i am not the most meticulous person there is. i don't have an obsessive compulsive desire to have everything perfect in my home. or anywhere else for that matter, cause right now my car is a mess of tracked in floor dirt, christened here and there with miscellaneous bird doo doo. my office needs a good dusting, and my filing hasn't been done. with that said, i need to feel comfortable in my own house. my home is my personal corner of the planet - the only place i have absolute control over, and since it's up to me, i like to have it my way - everything has a place, too much clutter is a confining no-no, and i am not a fan of dust, smudges, crumbs, or toilet bowl rings.

i watched the w.ife sw.ap marathon on the family channel yesterday afternoon. that show is fascinating to me. two families switch wife/mothers for two weeks. the producers pick the most disparate families and send camera crews to watch as the moms learn to live like their host family and then are allowed to impose their rules in the host family. it makes for interesting drama because you get to see the different ways that people live. one show just can't get out of my head. the moms' idea of keeping house was like night and day. one lady had dust bunnies all in everything and piles of laundry and messes everywhere. she would spend maybe 15 minutes a day cleaning - if that. she wanted to spend more time meditating and mothering her kids than worrying about cleanliness. her free spirit husband was cool with that. the other lady devoted all her time to cooking and cleaning, while her kids watched tv and played video games. her own mother and daughter were just like her - very big on spotlessness, and how that reflects on a woman's worth in the home. on another show, one married career mom had a house manager (who she referred to jokingly as her wife) that also functioned as a nanny. there was also a full time housekeeper on staff. she didn't see why she should have to clean up her house when there was work to be done and money to be made. i would say these women each represented extremes in one way or another.

i think i identified more with the super cleaner more than the other two moms. not because i'm anal, but because both the protestant work ethic and the cleanliness is next to Godliness concept have somehow sat down in the middle of the stuff that i buy into. i can't look at dust bunnies nonchalantly. i don't want some stranger dusting my bedroom or changing my sheets. so i suppose what i am hoping is that i will one day be able to balance having a clean home with spending time with my children and not losing touch with my own humanity cause someone else deals with the excrement stains in my toilet and the jelly stains my babies stick on doors.

so it looks like my house will only be so big. and like i'll probably be at home wrist deep in soapy water most saturday mornings. that may sound like a jail sentence to some people, but in my naive and inexperienced cloud of understanding, it sounds good to me.