Monday, April 19, 2010


I have the cleaning gene.  So said my former university housemate to my first-born during our visit last summer.  "Really?" said my child.  Having watched me as a renter for three years, she was completely unaware of this.  Sure, the major stuff got done, but my inherent desire for order frequently went to the dogs while sharing a shoebox with two kids and an actual dog.  Also, the shoebox wasn't mine, so there really wasn't any fun in it.

Yes, this is my dark confession: I actually like to clean.  It's not a manifestation of my perfectionism. When that bully has me in a headlock, it's for the like, life and death stuff, like closets that house things I can't make a decision about and a pantry that isn't efficient. A deck I have to mend, sand and refinish. It's about the fear I will soon go into a face-first tumble down that slippery slope into the category of a person who just doesn't have her shit together. There's an excellent argument to be made that I would be more fun in that case (d'ya think?) but that will have to wait until I have time to go back to therapy.

In the meantime, I vaccum, dust and put stuff away. On the days when I feel fat and hate my hair, sometimes I clean the bathrooms.  When I've been admonished by a lawyer or remind myself how many months it's been since I've gone on a proper date, the tangible results of getting things clean and tidy remind me that I still think enough of myself to take care of my own space, especially now that it's mine, or at least the bank's and not my landlady's.

Men say they like women who keep house, but I am not sure about this.  The messy ones don't like it because they see me as uptight and controlling. Can't imagine why, but there you go. The tidy ones say they like it, but in the end the women who win them are messy and chaotic and in need of someone to scoop them up and fix it all.  So for now I am on my own with my orderly house, at least until the kids get home.  They will come in, give me a hug, and mess it up.  And I will sit down with them on the couch and hear all about school and friends and boys and Legos.  The dishes will get done, but the dust bunnies will wait.


  1. This post has scared us all, Sue. The desperate cries for help lurk in every paragraph. We don't even know where to begin addressing all the issues raised in this piece. Please reach out to someone, and soon. Before the dust bunnies win...

  2. You should read The Unclutterer. These people clean behind the fridge and vaccum every day. This has to be in the DSM IV somewhere.