Housekeeping is not my strong point. Never has been; never will be. There are mysterious, hygienic-related rituals that other people seem to know innately, about which I have absolutely NO clue.
Like cleaning above your interior doors. Do other people do this? REALLY?? Apparently so.
Now, to me, my house looks clean. I mean, I worked on it QUITE a while recently and it looked the best it has looked in a long, long time. That was before I had a housekeeper come out to give me a quote for cleaning. She was trying to be nonjudgmental, I could tell. She went through the house and pointed out things that I swear I would never have noticed in several decades, saying that when she took on the job, she would be deep cleaning these areas. Huh?? I thought it was clean. Apparently not.
The quote was staggering, but when she was finished inspecting, I felt we were living in a home that had been a main target of germ warfare, had someone die in it from bubonic plague, and was a petri dish for e. coli. And it was all my fault!! She said she would bring in a team of "her girls" and they would be in my home -- here she looked me directly in the eyes, and seriously and firmly, to underscore her point, pronounced -- all day. All day.
She wasn't kidding. They have been here for 4 hours as I write this and they have only cleaned my bedroom and bathroom so far.
I truly have no idea what they have been doing. I have been moving from room to room, trying to keep out of their way, too ashamed to look them in the eye. I mean, for the love of all that is holy, I can't even think of anything that could possibly take me 4 hours to do in there!!
This is, without question, an embarrassing and humbling experience for me. I am good at so many other things. I want to follow them around and say, "I make a mean tuna casserole!!" "You should hear me crack people up with my one-liners!" "I taught Bible Study for 15 years!" "I am really great at accessorizing!" "I won the class spelling bee in the 4th grade!" But no, I think, I must acknowledge that this is not my shining moment and swallow my pride. Apparently... I suck.
Well, as in other things in my life, I will defer to the experts. I am paying them, despite my extreme discomfort, to clean up our crud and make our lives better. It sort of reminds me of a conversation we had in Bible Study once, about how Jehovah's Witnesses go door to door to evangelize. "Well," I said, " we are doing our part. Somebody has to be home to answer the door." See, I can feel good because I'm helping somebody have a job; I'm helping to boost the economy.
I'm also having to come to grips with the fact that, no matter how hard I try, there actually is one area of my life that I will never be successful at. I just do not have the cleaning gene. I respect people who do. I'm amazed at their knowledge and aptitude. I'm not good at organization either. I remember once my oldest daughter came back home after she'd moved away, and she was helping me clean our computer room. Scattered around the desk were a lot of pens and pencils; she picked them up and put them in an empty cup that was sitting there. "That's genius!!" I exclaimed. Yes. That's just how seriously deficient I am in these things. I do not lie -- I would never have thought of something that simple, that basic. My brain just does not work that way.
BUT....I remember once telling my mother-in-law, who has always been an immaculate housekeeper (God knows how she has endured visits to our home all these years but she does it with grace), that at the end of my life, I know I will never say, "I wish I'd cleaned more." I have played with my children, I have read books that have opened my mind, I have explored forests, I have painted pictures as gifts, I have visited dear friends, I have written poems, I have cooked meals for my husband (that's sort of waning also, but that might be another blog post), and I have run like the wind. Ok, a slow breeze. But I have been busy living, putting my time and talents into what I have been created for. And I have tried, in my own pathetically inept way, to keep up with our home.
The point is, we all have something that we're not good at. That's not a crime; it's a simple fact of life. And we can let it make us feel bad, and inadequate, and a lesser human being, or we can laugh at ourselves, count our blessings and turn to others for help. Our faults do not define us.
Cleaning house has made me think about the life that I have left to me, too. It's time to take a look at the things I carry within me, and toss out what doesn't work, what I no longer need, what no longer fits. Time, too, to dust off what I cherish, shine what's gotten dull, and pull out what's gotten pushed to the back of the closet. My gut feeling is, I am in the midst of upheaval or renewal.
Christian's high school graduation will end a chapter of my life which has lasted 29 years. For more than a quarter of a century, I have had children at home with me. 29 YEARS, people!!! We have been through many journeys, my children and I, together and separately. We've shared both laughter and tears, we've seen joy, and we've gone through some tough times, too. When I started out as a mom, I was young and incredibly unaware of what was about to shape my life. I end this part of motherhood much older, I hope a little wiser, but as always, deeply, fiercely in love with my children. As this chapter closes with my own bittersweet graduation of sorts, I am excited at the possibilities ahead -- what shall I do, what shall I do? I have, oh, about a million ideas.