My house is clean. No, I mean really clean. If you know me, you’ll know the significance of that.
It was the prospect of visitors that brought on this duster and J-cloth marathon and helped by the trial of a new medication that stops me feeling angsty about the drudgery, but also makes me feel sick when I look at a screen. So of course it’ll have to go.
The cleaning gave me a lot of time to think, and I began to think about priorities and how they’ve changed, and how I ended up here, mop in hand.
I’ve always worried about being judged. At least since I became a teenager and discovered that plaits, glasses, swotting and girly dresses were judged as unacceptable and led to bullying. Since then avoiding conflict and criticism has been a major aim of my life. It hasn’t stopped me though, it’s just changed the way I do things as I discovered you could be a party girl and study too.
For people in their twenties the accepted priorities appeared to be career and having fun, so I concentrated on them, with a fair bit success too. Then I got married and started pushing out babies, and everything changed.
Overnight it seemed that certain sections of society regarded the state of the house and the way that the children were turned out as the top priority now. Not easy for someone who will see something dirty and walk past thinking “I must deal with that sometime,” and who is still discovering things around the house that have to be cleaned. Clue: everything needs to be cleaned, but no-one had actually ever told me this.
The instinct to dress up the children seemed to kick in with the Mammy hormones, but they didn’t have the same effect on my urge to Hoover.
Yet babies need a safe and clean environment, so I had to acquit myself with a crash course in housework. Especially as I found that more people spending more time at home equalled a lot more mess.
(Even so I was perplexed when a neighbour gave up her beautiful red brick terrace to live in a new build suburban house on the edge of the city because she couldn’t manage four kids, a crumbling home and a largely absent husband. Now I know better!)
Most of the time I resent the tedium, repetitiveness and fleeting success of housework, but I know it’s bad manners to expect guests to stay in less than pristine surroundings, so with family due to arrive last Wednesday I stocked up on bleach and dusted down the steamer and fought my way through the cobwebs into the shed to grab the lawnmower and garden shears and got stuck in. It only took me two weeks, and even then the weeds are cheekily still popping up and the windows already looked speckled.
But at the end of my cleaning marathon even I could see the difference. And you know what? The end result made me feel much more cheerful than I expected…
I’m linking this up with Reasons to be Cheerful over at Lakes Single Mum.