For the most part, I have always considered myself a somewhat tidy person. I am not by any standards a neat-freak but I seem to have a wall that I hit when things get too disgusting in my house. This threshold has gotten looser and looser with each new addition to our family. Let’s just say that by the time the fourth kid came along, my “clean” standards have dropped considerably.
Over the years February has become my mortal enemy. For the entire month we are cooped up in the house. Everyday it’s cold, dark and gray outside. Where does the sun go? I mean, for the love of all sanity, make an appearance will ya? Yesterday the queen of all things warm made her grand appearance. It’s like losing a child in the clothes rack at Target. Should I kiss her warm lips or spank her ass for hiding? Anyway, I tried to enjoy her presence. It was that late morning sunshine. So bright and delightful. I closed my eyes and felt the warmth on my face. It made me smile. I took a deep cleansing breath. It’s the way I would breathe if I ever made it to a yoga class. I felt so relaxed. All of my problems vanished for a moment and life was good.
And then… I opened my eyes. That special bond I had with the sun was instantly over. The first thing I noticed were the disgusting, dirty windows. And I am not talking about your normal dirty windows. These were February windows. It’s a combination of fingerprints, large amounts of dust and moisture that join together to form a sticky grime. The sort of grime you might find in a frat house. Short of breath and embarrassed by my own housekeeping, I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a full bottle of Windex and a banner of paper towels. I sprayed and wiped in a frantic fashion until it was eventually clean. How could I have missed this? I look out of this window every single day. Apparently the gray clouds of winter mask poor house cleaning. In some ways it’s delightful and relaxing but when that first burst of sunlight pours through your home; prepare for the embarrassing reality. I feel the same way when I step on the scale after the holidays. It’s overwhelming. The paper towel went from pure white to army green as I made a welcome entryway for the sunshine that I have missed all of these dark, cold months. I stepped back and admired my work. It’s interesting how cleaning a window can make the whole room feel clean.
I talked to myself and made a promise to do that more often. I walked back into the kitchen and bent down to put the Windex back under the sink. The sunlight followed me and magnified more grime. There, along the baseboards, I saw splatters of all sorts. Apparently someone spilled a chocolate milk and what seemed to be an entire bowl of spaghetti sauce but never thought to wipe it off of the baseboard. I grabbed some disinfectant spray and began scrubbing. I shamed myself under my breath as I continued to work diligently. What on earth? How did I let this get so bad? I scrubbed and scrubbed until the baseboard returned to its original white color.
Again, I promised myself that I would make a point to look at those baseboards more often. Thirsty from all of that scrubbing; I rewarded myself with a little water break. I grabbed a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water. I put it to my lips and just before I took my first sip, I noticed the spots. Water spots on the glass. Tons of them. What on earth is going on? I’m a pig. No maybe I’m just raising pigs. I’m not sure but I do know that I’m the only one who notices or cares. Disgusted, I put the spotted glass in the sink and that’s when I noticed the hot chocolate and coffee stains all over the counter. This is the moment when I felt myself losing it. It’s as if I couldn’t move fast enough. I cleaned the counter and then all of my actions became a blur. I ran from appliance to appliance cleaning like a complete lunatic. My eyes couldn’t find anything clean. Every single thing I looked at was dirty. The refrigerator was decorated with hand prints, the oven door was brown, crumbs were all over the toaster, a bowl of spaghetti exploded in the microwave, water stains on the dishwasher, dust on the lights and the place mats were stuck to the table with syrup. A demon took over my body and I have no idea what I was muttering under my breath when my daughter walked in to find me. God bless her poor sweet, innocent soul.
With great caution she whispered; “Mom? Are you okay?”
I snapped “No. I am NOT okay. Are you okay?”
“I’ll tell you what happened. I just realized that I live with a bunch of pigs. Disgusting dirty pigs. All of you. Did you spill a chocolate milk and leave it for me to clean up?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Either you did or you didn’t.”
“Well. I did. But I definitely cleaned it up.”
Then my head spun around a few times and I pointed to the baseboards. “You didn’t clean the baseboards! I’ll tell you that! They were filthy. Totally gross! I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed them for 10 minutes.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think it..”
She stopped talking and looked at me like she was afraid to say another word. I must’ve had steam coming out of my ears and devil horns on my head because she backed out of the kitchen slowly so I wouldn’t attack. Armed with a disinfectant spray and an unbroken stream of nasty comments under my breath; I returned to my cleaning.
I heard my husbands footsteps coming down the stairs and heading toward the kitchen and I felt myself getting angrier and angrier. I needed an adult to verbally abuse. Why am I the only one who cleans? Shouldn’t he be 50% responsible? When will these kids be old enough to clean the right way? He walked in the kitchen and was heading for the coffee maker when my 8-year-old stopped him in his tracks.
“Dad. Don’t go in there. I’m warning you.”
She pointed and stared at me like a monster “It’s not Mom. It’s Cleanzilla and you don’t want to get in her way!”