Friday, April 1, 2011

A clean home is a sign of...

Phew! Floors are vacuumed (living room twice -- long story) and mopped. Bathroom's sparkling. Clothes and bedding (even the dog's) washed and dried. Even got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed the back entry, a.k.a. the dog's dining room.
Meanwhile, my dining room table remains covered with filing, displayed for all to see in neat little stacks, now lightly sprinkled with dust.
Time to look for a job! OK, I'm not giving up on this yet, but if there's one thing that could drive me right back to work it just might be cleaning floors.
And yet, spending so much time in my home, and spending so much of that time cleaning, appears to have an unexpected upside for me. I'm finally learning to break my perfectionist habit.
When I stopped working I was shocked to discover how dirty our home really was, and compelled to clean it up. I recall the exact moment when I decided to detail the house: I was standing in front of the stove, tossing a piece of popcorn into my mouth, when I looked up and discovered that the ceiling was splattered with... something.
I immediately broke out the rubber gloves, but soon realized just how long it takes to thoroughly clean a home and keep it that way. Now that I know how time-consuming it can be, I have a newfound appreciation for my mother-in-law's immaculate home. I have never, ever, seen a speck of dust or dirt on any surface there. Her floors glow. But how many hours has she spent to keep it that way? Just last Sunday I complained to my mother-in-law and her sisters-in-law that three days after vacuuming the dust bunnies were back. Oh yes, they replied unanimously, you have to vacuum every other day. Every other day?!? Life is too short...
And so, I am learning not to care that the house only looks pristine the day after I clean it (and I'm using pristine very broadly). It's good enough the rest of the week. I am learning to clean more quickly. And that it's okay to skip the toothbrush-treatment here and there -- there's always next time. After all, in this case, better to do an adequate job than none at all...right?

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