There was a time I enjoyed cleaning the house. Running a dust cloth over the dining room table, mantel, and bedside tables was therapeutic. My mind would wander, an outline for a new short story created, day old anger vented with a sponge and Scrubbing Bubbles. And at the end of a few hours, with everything back in its place, woodwork and glass shining, no dog hair lingering in the corners of the kitchen and the carpet fluffed and looking semi-new, I felt accomplished and renewed. I still believe some of the worlds greatest problems could be solved while cleaning the toilet.
These days, I’ve not enough time to wipe the accumulated dust from the ceiling fan or Windex doggie nose prints from the sliding glass door. Looking back, I’m not sure how I ever found the time to clean. Even when I was working and going to school full-time, the house was spotless. For the life of me, I cannot recall how I was able to cram it all in a weeks time.
Or maybe, my priorities have changed. Why dust when there is a bicycle to be ridden through the Delano District. Tickets to a concert? Sure. I’ll vacuum tomorrow…or the next day. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in squalor, I’m just not as stressed over seeing a dust bunny under the couch or cobweb in the high corner of the dining room. As I type, I can see a layer of dust on a shelf in the kitchen and spot a few cat hairs on the kitchen curtains where Day Tripper likes to peek his head through to spy on birds. And yet, no urges to run to the closet to grab a dust rag or drag the vacuum up the stairs to suck away those few stray cat hairs. Nothing.
It’s funny, the last few decades my mother has finally refrained from her endless cleaning, too. As a child, I watched my mother constantly clean and when she wasn’t kneeling next to the bathtub or sweeping under the kitchen table, she was ironing full baskets of shirts and pants, a can of starch at the ready. Not any more. While my dad has always helped with the household chores, it seems he has taken on the majority, even before my mother’s accident, last year. And as my mother says, “if he enjoys it, he can have it. I’m not doing it. Who really cares if your house is dusty? You dust it today, the dust just comes back, tomorrow.” As for the ironing, she will still press a few shirts, but she now looks for wrinkle-free clothing when she shops or tosses pants in the dryer for a few spins.
Maybe my mother’s different view on household chores has inspired me to do the same. I know she feels that with time at its most precious, why waste it cleaning the house. The structure of my life has definitely changed, as I find myself doing or not doing things based on what ifs or second chances. Which is why I find myself making small justifications for waiting a few more days to dust, after all it is windy outside and will be for a few days, so why dust when it will just be dusty tomorrow. When the wind dies down, I’ll give the whole house a good swipe of the dust cloth and Swiffer. Did I mention I live in Kansas? Next to a wheat field? Looks like I’ll be dusting sometime in February.