I love this sign. It encapsulates perfectly my philosophy on house cleaning. It is not a priority for me to keep a neat, germ-free house. I know that there are people out there who enjoy cleaning, who find the process soothing, who get down on their hands and knees to wash their floors. These people mystify me.
Don’t get me wrong: I love having a clean and orderly house. I just don’t want to have to do it myself. I’d rather read a book, play a game with my kids, or have coffee with a girlfriend. I’d rather write a blog post, or a poem, or a journal entry. I’d rather spend a morning in bed with a delicious man, or go out dancing, or stare into the distance and think. It seems like such a waste to wash a floor when it’s just going to be sticky again as soon as the seven year old pours himself a glass of apple juice.
You might be one of those people who gets down on her hands and knees to wash a floor. And by now you might be thinking, “Get your lazy ass off the couch, sister, and pack that dishwasher!” I will. Eventually. But it will give me no pleasure. There are so many other, far more interesting ways I could spend my time.
I remember dropping by a friend’s house a couple of years ago. “Come in,” she said, giving me a warm hug. “Have a cup of tea with me.” We walked through her house chatting, past her dining room table, which was covered with unfolded laundry. There must have been four or five dryer loads on the table. As we walked past, she didn’t even seem to notice it. There was no apologizing for the mess, no excuses about why the laundry hadn’t yet been folded. “I love this woman”, I thought to myself. “She is a true soul sister!” And there’s nothing boring about her. She’s been back a few months from a year-long sailing trip with her husband and three kids. Her next adventure – at fifty – is to complete an arduous bike race in South Africa. This is a woman who lives life to the fullest.
I have another friend who boldly held a dinner party without tidying her house. Her partner was mortified. “If I waited for my house to be clean,” she told me, “we’d never have anyone over ever again.” She is an artist who paints delicate water colours and who maintains a lush and vibrant garden. She has more important things to do than clean her house.
I know that there are women who live rich and satisfying lives and still manage to wash their floors at least once a week. I’m not one of them. As I’m writing this, I am blissfully unaware of the sticky floors in my kitchen, of the many surfaces that could use a good dusting, of the laundry piling up. But I’m engaged in the creative process and I love the feeling of “flow” in this place. The floors can wait.
I was reminded recently, though, that not everybody shares my views on this subject. One of the statements I had to respond to on the e-Harmony personality profile was, “My house is generally cleaner if I have company coming over.” I laughed out loud when I read this. Yes, this is always true of me. Nothing motivates me to clean like the prospect of company. And having been in a relationship with a guy who loves cleanliness and order, I know that house cleaning can be a sticking point for lots of couples. So it’s good that e-Harmony is weeding out the slatterns early. Maybe along with my profile pictures, I should post a picture of my kitchen after I’ve cooked a meal.
Okay. The floors can wait no longer. It’s time to get out the mop. I can hear my children’s feet sticking as they wander through the kitchen, foraging for snacks.
And besides, I have friends coming over tomorrow.