This morning I thanked my husband profusely (there might have been tears) for cleaning our bathroom. It was long overdue and just yesterday morning I looked at it and thought "disgusting". If I were to use this bathroom in someone else's home, I'd be appalled. Yet, in my own home, I let it slide. Why? Anyway, great minds think alike (and apparently some of them actually put those thoughts into action) and my wonderful husband cleaned our bathroom last night (yes, he ruined another shirt with bleach but let's put petty things aside...). I was thrilled and wanted to express my gratitude so I gave him a big hug and a "thank you". He then replied "give me something to clean every day - if I do one thing each day, you know, leave it better than when I found it, then things will shape up around here." And, of course, my first thought was WTF? Am I not doing a good enough job keeping this house clean? (No!). But then I got over myself and suggested some things that desperately need a thorough cleaning. Among them, all three (yes, three!) refrigerators need a deep cleaning, the hardwood floors may contain deadly bacteria, and the pantry is stuffed full with various half-eaten packages of food products and an embarrassing amount of dog hair (the kids don't seem to remember the pantry floor when vacuuming). My husband just looked at me with a grimace and said, "yeah, that's not really what I was thinking" then proceeded to tell me he liked to "transform" things so they were obviously changed! Like cleaning our room. He went to town one day recently and "cleaned" our room, which really just meant rearranging and stowing my various crafts and hundreds of photos into other places. I will never find them now, which is probably just as well, because we all know I'm never going to scrapbook seventeen years' worth of my kids' photos.
His favorite "cleaning" project is the garage. Now, I have never understood men in that regard. My ex-husband used to busy himself cleaning the garage when we were planning for a party. Why? No one goes in the garage when you're hosting a party! Who wants to see your twenty Rubbermaid boxes of Christmas decorations? But for some reason, this is how he found himself "useful" and so I'd have a clean garage and be inside frantically wrestling children and trying to keep the dogs off the freshly mopped hardwoods. Go figure. Jeff enjoys cleaning the garage combined with a weight workout. He will do a rep of weights, then go around reorganizing our junk, then do another rep of weights. Never mind that there's a Pepsi can in the dog kennel amongst the many blankets they've chewed holes in and have now claimed as their own. That's been sitting in there for months, but the dozen or so softballs no one ever plays with are neatly tucked into their own little cubby.
I can't complain, though. Ninety percent of the time, he's the one cleaning up the really disgusting things like dog barf and poop. Just last night, he and the carpet cleaner became reacquainted at 4 a.m. when Shade decided to deposit the remnants of the last three days' worth of Christmas candy he's consumed (wrappers and all!) on our bedroom carpet. But we all had to pitch in with the pet indiscretion yesterday. For some reason, yesterday the pets decided the world was their toilet. I returned from yoga to find barf in the garage and office and poop in the family room and upstairs hallway. Everyone excpet Hannah ended up cleaning a portion of that. But she got hers - in the evening Georgette decided to drop a turd on the kitchen floor in the middle of a movie party. Nice. Hannah got that one.
Cleaning around here is never-ending and often feels like a futile effort. The only way things stay clean is when the kids are not here and lately there's ALWAYS a kid here. This week, for example, my kids were supposed to be with their dad all week. Arlie is in Spokane, so I was looking forward to a nice long week of a clean house, time to do projects, read my book, shop in peace, etc. But no. They've been here every day, having parties and creating a mess in their wake, not unlike Pig Pen's cloud of dust. And so we clean. And they mess it up. And they sometimes clean it up (although not without an eye roll or extended sigh), and the cycle continues.
So, while Jeff's "clean one thing a day" sounds like an ideal plan, it will never surmount the growing monster of clutter, trash and grime that follows a family of six. It's inescapable, and oftentimes feels like a preview for an episode of "Hoarders". But we keep cleaning and staying a half a step ahead of the chaos. And, by golly, my bathroom is clean right now so I'm going to thoroughly bask in the sparkling porcelain while I can because it might be weeks before I see the elusive gleam again.