My sister Bec just spent a few weeks with us to get away from the Arizona heat. It’s true that you don’t really know someone until you live with them for a while – at least I’m sure that’s what she would say.
You see, the fact of the matter – and what I don’t think she suspected – is that I’m a slob.
She would never tell me that, but I’m pretty sure she headed straight to her doctor’s office when she got back to Arizona to get a tetanus shot. Just in case. And frankly that was probably a smart move.
I come from a long line of NOT slobs. So, you see, I have no excuse.
My mom kept an immaculately clean house. She washed and changed bed sheets every Wednesday. She did I don’t know how many loads of laundry each week, probably including Dad’s bakery whites. She dusted and mopped her floor weekly. Each night after dinner (with help from the kids), she washed the dishes, wiped down the counters, and swept the floor. This, on top of preparing dinner every night, owning a business that kept her incredibly occupied, and being the mother of four children.
I don’t own a business, we have no kids in the house, and yet I change bed sheets every couple of weeks, I wash my kitchen floor when footprints begin to bother me, I haphazardly wipe down my counter, always leaving streaks in the process. My bathrooms are cleaned just often enough to prevent state authorities from coming in to shut down my house. I do laundry when Bill starts pulling out his travel underwear. Sigh.
But I can cook! Does that count for anything?
I feel compelled to tell you that I am, of course, exaggerating. I tell you this in fear that I will never again have a house guest. It’s true; I really am exaggerating. But not by much.
I loathe housework. I always have. I always will. I can walk past clutter longer than any other human being I know. I have taken to putting things on the steps that need to go upstairs, but I can walk over them for days. There can be something sitting on a counter that only needs to be put into a drawer in the next room, and it will remain there for, oh, I don’t know, three months.
For most of my married life (and therefore, most of my life in this almost-3,000 square foot home – I had a cleaning lady. She did an admirable job, but I used to think she and the helpers she brought along with her must – MUST – have been saying in Spanish, “These people are pigs and should not be allowed to own a home.” Unlike my mother-in-law, I did not clean my house in preparation for the cleaning lady. I just left her check on the table and hid until she was gone.
I stopped having a cleaning lady because I simply cannot justify paying someone to do what I think I should do now that I am retired. That’s, of course, not necessarily true. There would be many very good reasons to pay someone to clean my house, not the least of which is that then my house would actually get cleaned. Still, I can always think of a better way to spend a hundred-some every month than on house cleaning. Expensive bottles of liqueurs for my Barefoot Contessa recipes, for example.
All this is to say that I want to announce to the world, and particularly my sister, that I spent the better part of yesterday morning cleaning my kitchen. I swept, I scrubbed, I buffed, I polished, I disinfected, I tossed away food with stuff growing on it, I wiped down all of my appliances. Whew.
See how shiny? It looks great and it makes me very happy. I informed Bill that we can’t cook or eat or even walk in the kitchen for at least a week. But even as I gaze lovingly at my clean counters, I see the dust settling.
It’s almost not worth it, is it? Sorry Mom.