TO CLEAN OR NOT TO CLEAN
By Terri White
My mom kept a pristine house. Working full time, she managed to keep clothes washed, cook homemade meals, and clean the house – all while being an amazing mother and wife. She deserved a medal.
Mom could afford a cleaning lady by the time she enlisted my sister’s and my help as budding teens. Although we cleaned bathrooms, scrubbed the kitchen floor (on hands and knees), dusted, and vacuumed, our cleaning lady dug deeper: windows, baseboards, corners, ledges, and curtains. Details and more details. The stuff I ignored.
Perhaps you wonder why my two brothers never helped. In those days, the division of labor kept girls cleaning inside while the boys worked outside with yard work, taking out the trash, shoveling snow, and scooping up dog poop. Fine with me. Scooping up dog poop never made my bucket list.
Each Saturday, Mom presented us with a list. An early riser, I downed my breakfast, rolled up my sleeves, and whipped through my list. Meanwhile, my sister slept in. About the time I finished, she was strolling into the kitchen for breakfast. I spent the afternoon with my friends while she completed her chores. My brothers? No memory surfaces about their Saturday routines.
Fast forward to adulthood. Due to my mother’s high standards, I kept my home clean. Once married with children, I continued to thoroughly clean each week. By the time my children were eight or nine, they participated. They even learned to wash clothes. Eventually, I placed them in charge of housecleaning and the laundry. I rotated their chores each week so that they practiced all the aspects of cleaning and laundry. True, it was a kid-cleaned house, but better than a no-cleaned house.
However, when our kids grew up and flew the coop, I faced all those chores on my own. Once again, I rolled up my sleeves and tackled them weekly.
Soon, though, my schedule with teaching and running T.E.A.C.H. grew more demanding. I became less fastidious. Less routine. My teenage granddaughters pitched in every so often, but eventually, they moved on to live their own busy lives with no time for helping me - as it should be, of course.
What to do? Should I part with my hard-earned money and hire a cleaning service? Or give up my spare time to clean? Decisions, decisions. So I continued to clean a bit here and here, avoiding the decision.
Then last month when our family visited Mom, my sister-in-law stated matter-of-factly, “But then you don’t have to do it.” Seemed reasonable to me. Nevertheless, spending all that money still bugged me. Then stir in this: Since I’m hard to please, will the service clean up to my standards?
Ever the late bloomer, I finally realized that not worrying about housecleaning at my stage of life is worth the money. So I bucked up, made a few inquiries, interviewed a recommended lady, and made my first-ever appointment with a professional house cleaning service.
Will I give it the white-glove test? Most likely. Perhaps a part two of “To Clean or Not to Clean” is in the future? We shall find out.