I am an outdoor type—the kind of woman who would rather be out on a tractor, riding a lawnmower, weedeating, tending animals or the garden—anything but housework. But eventually I have to do housework. Today was one of those days. I have company coming and nothing can inspire me to do housework like knowing people will be in my home. I invite people to my house just for impetus to clean my home. The thought of people being in my home miraculously opens my eyes to the squalor I usually am content to live in.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a clean house. I know some of you can relate: I feel clean when my house is clean. I guess I go around feeling dirty all the time, like Pig Pen of Peanuts fame. But not today. I spent half of the day outdoors and then decided to dip my toes into a bit of housework in preparation for said company. Before I knew it, I was submerged in a full-fledged spring cleaning–even the ceiling fan blades came under my new found cleanliness scrutiny. My usual remedy is to keep those blades in a full spin so that no one can see the accumulation of dust on them. But when they start casting off dust bunnies from their eternal carousel ride, I guess it is time for their free ride to end.
So I grabbed an old rag, set the step ladder under the fan and began the delicate task of ridding the blades of caked dust while keeping it from falling on the newly mopped floor. (Yes, all you pro-housecleaners, I should have done this first and then the floor).
As I work, I like to listen to audio books or Bible teaching, to sort of ‘redeem the time’. It also helps to pass the time. I find I actually retain more when I am doing some busy work with my hands. So next time I am at church or a conference, I may just go grab a broom or a dust rag…
After about three hours of listening to an audio book, I decided a bit of music was in order. I chose classical music. Freed from listening intently to the words of a speaker, my mind was able to wander. I was disgusted at my poor housecleaning habits. I often compare myself with my mother-in-law. Her home is always pristine. She has a much larger home than I do, but manages to keep it clean and tidy. I know I live in the country and have a lot of dirt blowing around and tracking in, but I also know there is dirt where she lives, so I cannot use that as an excuse.
My mother-in-law was a wife and mother back in the 50s. (technically she still is a mother, but you get what I mean—she had kids at home back in that era and was in full force homemaker mode). I have seen the evidence in photographs, so I don’t have to imagine her as the quintessential 50s woman in pressed dress, perfect hairdo, apron and pearls.
So, when I am in cleaning mode, I think back to that era and how important keeping a home was to them. I was formally trained that way by my mother, but it didn’t stick. Or perhaps the clean gene skipped my generation. I have the know-how but no want-to. As I cleaned my fan blades to Chopin and Beethoven, I imagined myself as one of those lovely ladies, industriously cleaning her home and liking it. ‘Tis a pleasant fiction.