Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Internal Battles

In literature, a poor person is respectable if they are clean. For example, an author may say, "The house was small and plain, but the rough-hewn floorboards were bleached white from continual scrubbing," or "Their clothes were worn, but each patched shirt was scoured and ironed stiff with starch," or "Though her kitchen cupboards were bare, she kept a tidy home with a fresh cloth spread neatly on the table." These examples are made up, but they could be real. I know, because it is precisely that kind of sentence that burrows a hole of guilt inside my soul. Poor you cannot help, but clean you can.

I am not clean.

I have a very dear friend (Her husband is a talented photographer and this is one of his photos. I couldn't find one with her face, but this is the woman) whom I sincerely admire. She is a Saint--that's with a capital S. There are many of her qualities that I would like to develop. Her hobby is cleaning. I know, I don't quite understand it either.

The other day, she mentioned that she had an all-day purge and scour of the house planned to prepare for Christmas. I usually go through my pod's toys to make room for Christmas gifts, but this was more. Ohh, I was inspired. A completely clean house and big bags to donate waiting at the door sounded so nice! I was going to do it, too.

Then, something happened. It snowed--a lot. And, there's this thing about snow; it melts. You kind of have to take snow when it happens because it may not be there tomorrow. If it doesn't melt, it may be too cold to play tomorrow.

Now I was in for it. Do I make my children stick with me during this Purge and Scour Event of the Year or do I let them play in the snow?

No. No options. We are cleaning today. Do not look out the window. We are cleaning. Try not to notice the fun the children across the street are having. We are cleaning. Ignore the voice telling you that childhood goes quickly and snowfall is unpredictable. WE ARE CLEANING!!!Oh, forget it. I can't be someone I'm not.

Of course, I'll keep trying to improve.

For now, however, I have to do what my gut tells me. We'll get the house clean sometime.

Childhood only lasts for so long. I'd hate to make them miss it.


  1. If you had cleaned, like you wanted to, you would be re-cleaning right now anyway. Your kitchen would be a disaster because you would have been in the mood to make a fantastic meal or treat; necessitating all of the mixing bowls, pans, measuring cups, etc.(My clean kitchen screams "MAKE SOMETHING" when it is freshly cleaned.
    There. Did I take the guilt away? Way to be a great Mom!

  2. Em.. that's why they call it spring cleaning... wait till then (:

  3. There is a difference between having a clean house, and having an OCD clean house. In one of your earlier posts you described it perfectly, if the toys are not out, there not being played with. That principle carries over into many things.....Should we try to teach our kids that we pick up after we're done with something? absolutely. I think the extreme is when cleaning becomes more important than interacting with your kids. Ofcourse there are exceptions, (in-laws coming to visit!) Childhood is fleeting, and my Mom always says that she misses the messes! She reminds me that there will always be time later to clean and that your kids will not remember how clean the bathroom was, but whether or not you cleaned it together.

  4. Emily,
    We've only met once, but I was talking to your mother the other day and told her I am convinced we would be great friends! Reading this post confirms that for me!
    Mary Fox (aka Betsy's sister-in-law)