I’m not good at cleaning. Or rather, I’m not good at cleaning my private spaces. My public spaces (desk, front porch etc) are typically very well organized and well kept. But the inside of the car, my bedroom, my laundry pile? Mess. They get bad, I get avoid-y, they get worse, I get sad, they get even worse and I finally, frustratedly, try to conquer.
Growing up, tidying was a mad dash “CRAP, people are coming over, clean up NOW” affair. Cleanliness was for company, not for family. I’m not judging it, it’s just the way it was. I entirely support choosing to avoid the drudge of regular dusting, mopping and all the rest when you have three children all under the age of 6 (this comic comes to mind). Plus, my feminist self rebels against the ‘women keeping tidy’ stereotype.
But I wish I’d learned to establish a somewhat regular routine. Because cleaning for strangers who ‘matter’ implies that the intimates in my life don’t matter as much. It’s something that Anthony and I have been bickering about recently. Cleaning isn’t onerous for him. I think he actually enjoys it, as it calms his mind to know that his surroundings are in a general state of upkeep. The dirty floor of my new home’s closet (drywall flakes, sawdust, carpet and wood scraps, a few candy wrappers) was driving him up the wall. “But it’s on the floor… of my closet. Plus, we don’t even see it! Why does it matter? It’s just you and me!” I found myself fuming. Turns out, it mattered to him.*
So I’m going to start small, and do just one thing a day: take out the trash, wipe down counter tops, run the dishwasher, sweep out spider webs from the corners etc. Hopefully these small tasks will get me into a routine. I think I’ll be able to handle it as long as I don’t get behind and then stare despondently at the mountain of mess.
*We worked it out and shared mutual sorries by the way.