Last night, as it got later and later and dinner dishes were still not cleared away and the stuff I normally have well under control by 10 p.m. on a Sunday began taunting me, I had a sudden realization. I am sitting at my kitchen table pitching a certain Notre Dame faculty expert to national media outlets, while trying not to let my feet touch the filthy floor that has been neglected because (as we all do) I am working from home…again.
Laptops and iPhones and social media, etc. are nice and all, but being plugged in 24-7 certainly has its domestic disadvantages. Sometimes I can keep it all balanced fairly well and stem the tidal wave of filth and disorder that seems to have become my home’s natural state. Other times, it beats me down so fiercely that I want to curl up and cry. But, ND public relations got a lot of big media hits this week!
Now about that filth…
Having a husband who does all the cooking is a blessing that I admit I often take for granted. If I planned our meals, my three girls (10, 9 and 5) would eat hot, well-balanced meals, but dinner would in no way resemble the mouth-watering works of art that my husband creates. Jeff earns high praise with each new masterpiece, sometimes in the form of “Daddy, this is the best dinner you have EVER made.” Other times, simply in what is not said…but moaned and groaned in delight. And, our girls are developing a passion for cooking and appreciation for fine cuisine. We all think his best dishes are his chicken parmesan, beef stroganoff, chicken paprikash, spaghetti with home-made meatballs and home-made pasta sauce with tomatoes fresh from the garden. There are many, many more. And he doesn’t use recipes.
Ok, that said, Chef Jeff is like a culinary Tasmanian Devil in the kitchen. Sauces fly, utensils drop, spices miss pans and bake like cement onto our stovetop, and our linoleum between the island and stove is scarred from dropped knives. I don’t know how the man has managed to keep all his toes. I have accepted the fact that, since he creates the luscious meals, it is my job to clean up after him, but sometimes when I see that “I-have-a-great-idea-for-dinner” gleam in his eye, I get a teeny urge to suggest McDonalds. And, I hate McDonalds. I have tried working alongside him…washing dishes as he goes, wiping slop off the floor, etc…helps a little.
Maybe I’m not the only one who has had to stand on a stool to scrub bar-b-que sauce off the CEILING, or from the underneath side of the space-saver microwave. If it weren’t so exhausting, it would really be funny. He’s like the Ty Pennington of the kitchen. (actually, he and Ty could have been twins separated at birth, but that’s another blog in itself)
So, back to the filth. No, it’s not directly the fault of technology, but I have to blame something. And, it’s not just from Jeff, although, bless his heart, he’s a one man wrecking crew and dedicated spreader of filth (or as I call it, sludge). Three daughters….you wouldn’t think little girls could create such nasty, sticky, slimy, globs of yuk. Being a neat-freak at heart, I, long ago, had to let go of my instinctive urge to keep order and cleanliness, knowing that if I did not…precious moments with the girls would be lost. I hate it that while I’m on the floor playing Memory with Lily or Rummy with Madison or kicking a soccer ball with Riley, there, in the back of my mind, stifled but not entirely silenced, is that little tug reminding me that at that very moment, dust bunnies may well be carrying valuables out of our house. I refuse to be one of those people who keeps a perfect home, but misses the most important times with the kids. So, I have forced myself to ignore it, though it torments me constantly.
Ok, now to the random stuff that plagues me and makes me wonder if we are the only family capable of creating such omnipresent filth. Have you ever spent an entire Saturday cleaning…doing 8,000 loads of laundry, dishes, dusting, vacuuming, mopping, sterilizing toilets, wiping door knobs and light switches with disinfectant wipes, removing couch cushions to hand vac the virtual zoo of repulsiveness that manages to collect there, etc. Really, a day of serious de-sludging that you stop and survey upon completion with a sense of satisfaction for providing a clean and orderly home for your family…. only to discover the stuff you missed mocking you out loud?
Wiping and disinfecting the tabletop after meals doesn’t even break the surface of getting the job done. How do the drips that you THINK are landing on the table or the lap or the floor, also manage to befoul the sides, edges and legs of the table and chairs? Seriously? Do children wait until you turn your back and purposely smear it on? How do the bottoms of the chair legs become caked with that unidentifiable black stuff that immediately will streak up a perfectly, just-mopped floor the second they are scooted in or out from the table? What the heck is it anyway…compacted dust? I have no earthly idea. I just know it is my enemy. No one ever told me I would have to turn chairs upside down to remove build-up. And have you ever actually attempted to do this? It almost requires a chisel. How does dinner schrapnel hit the vertical blinds and the spines of cookbooks and the walls of the island and even the blades of the ceiling fan. HOW? I never see it happening. Sometimes I look at our floor and think… Wait, this isn’t my house…it’s the Lambda Chi house at Ball State on a Sunday morning….how did I get here? And speaking of ceiling fans… How in the world does dust accumulate in such repulsive globs on a thing that spends all of its time whirling in circles?
Please tell me I’m not the only one who, upon finishing what I believe to be a thorough house-cleaning, becomes sucker punched by the sheer volume of what else needs to be done? Window sills make me crazy. Can’t flies go somewhere else to die? Floor boards, window smudges, the fronts and sides of the refrigerator and dishwasher and basically any vertical or horizontal surface in the kitchen. The tops of the cabinets in the kitchen where the decor mostly escapes eye-level scrutiny. The tops of armoirs where silk flowers decorate with the evil intention of attracting more dust than the ceiling fans. Maybe it’s a competition. Do people actually regularly wash walls and cabinets and chair rungs and…heck, even TV screens?
I have made it sound like we live in a pit, but most anyone would walk in and think it was a fairly clean and tidy house. I just needed to vent a little because although I’ve tabled my neat-freak obsession for the sake of family time…and (let’s be honest) bringing my job home each day… I hear it’s not good to bottle emotions.
This rant, by-the-way, was born last night when I forced myself to go to bed despite our kitchen floor needing to be shoveled, swept and mopped. I woke up at 5am and my normal morning pleasure over the start of a fresh new day immediately became clouded by the reminder that I would have to make the girls’ breakfast while side-stepping globs of nastiness. So, for the first time ever, I mopped the floor at 5am on a Monday morning.
Ok, I feel better. I just won’t look around too much past the now spotless, bleachified kitchen floor. It’s perfection will only last as long as it takes the girls to…never mind, too late