Home Ownership Lesson #12

I am no Suzy Homemaker.

I do not enjoy housekeeping. I know people who love it. I have enjoyed having had roommates who love to clean. I have friends who enjoy the satisfaction that comes with completing a task or enjoying the break it provides from their normal routine. These things do not appeal to me.

I am neither good at cleaning nor do I wish to make time to do it (I work at work, I don’t want to work at home – I want to read and watch more episodes of The West Wings on Netflix). When I mop it seems that there is always something left lingering on the floor. My “clean” house never seems to look as good as other people’s “clean” house. I clean because I must. I clean to maintain a reasonably healthy home and to prevent dog hair, laundry and gluten-free crumbs from swallowing my house. Or, guests are coming over. Guilt is an effective cleaning motivator.

I am very grateful for my dishwasher.

I am very grateful for my dishwasher.

People have asked me why I don’t just hire someone to take care of it. Why? Because I am a walking contradiction. I hate to clean, but I am ashamed to hire someone because my house is so small. It seems spoiled of me to have someone else come clean my 1600 square feet that I live in with only a dog, especially since I really only use about half the house. So, I cleaned.

Recently, much to my delight, a friend was looking for some side work cleaning. This was perfect – I wasn’t so much trying to pawn off my work on my little house, I was helping a friend! No shame in that, right? I quickly let her know I’d welcome the help. Everyone wins.

Then, after the deal was done, I started thinking. Actually, obsessing might be a better word. In order for her to clean she would have to come into my house. Usually visits are preceded by me dusting, vacuuming, and clearing all the flat surfaces of laundry. The situation begged the question: should I clean the house before she comes? Of course, I would pick up the dirty clothes off the floor, put away the laundry hanging out on the dryer, and clear the door handles of bras and jackets. But should I really clean before she comes?

I surveyed the house. It needed dusting. The floor needed a sweep. The mirror in the bathroom was dotted with toothpaste splatter. The windows had not been touched since I bought the place. I reasoned that these are the very things she is coming to clean. This is normal. Then, I thought of the microwave. Ahh, the microwave.

I do not buy paper towels (I prefer using cloth rags). Also, I do not own one of those little domes to cover food in the microwave. Now take a moment to think about what the condition of the inside of the microwave might be when you use it for months, without covering food up, or cleaning it. My mother is cringing with embarrassment right now. I hope my Brother-in-Law is sitting down. It was not good.

It took me two days to decide whether or not to clean the microwave. In the end, I decided that I would prefer to endure the shame of someone seeing the inside of it rather than cleaning it myself. Telling, huh? I just hoped that my friend would pray for me rather than judge my housekeeping skills (or lack thereof).

The cleaning day came and went. I arrived home super late that day and was welcomed by the smell of cleanliness (lemon scent with a touch of Clorox, very nice). It was wonderful. The house looked great, including the microwave. I checked it first since I needed to know if she knew.

In a note to my friend later thanking her for the help I apologized for the state of the microwave. Yes, I was fishing to see how awful she thinks I am now. I am just a wee bit of a people pleaser. I am sure you could not tell. To my apology she responded “I actually said ‘woah’ out loud when I opened the microwave!” I thought for a moment of asking how hard it was to clean but I decided to spare myself more self-induced humiliation. I had kind of hoped she would say it was not so bad; clearly, where the microwave is concerned I do not live in reality. It was bad and I knew it. But, I am very happy that it is clean now and that I did not have to do it. I think my cleaning age is around 17.

The lesson? Until I can make it to a box store to buy one of those dome things I am using a paper plate to protect my microwave from my dinner. Promise!

If you are no Suzy Homemaker it is best to just get help.

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3 thoughts on “Home Ownership Lesson #12

  1. I wish we could afford someone to come in and clean. Of course we live in a place less than half the size of yours so it’s even more embarrassing that it gets as messy as it does. We don’t live in filth of course… but I will admit I sometimes invite people over JUST so I’ll be forced to deep clean things. Cleaning sucks.

  2. I only have to clean my little Brooklyn apartment—and really only the common kitchen and living room and my own bedroom—and I still can’t seem to be bothered. I’m 23 but my cleaning age is probably ~17, too.

    Glad I discovered your blog and this post in particular. Good to know I’m not alone! 🙂

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