My Son, pictured above, in a strategic placing that should express that He is the reason for the total disarray behind him, was a little over twelve months old in the picture, (my Son is now 25 months old). I captured this moment on my camera phone, to send to his Father, because I wanted my Husband to know that there was a rather valid reason he came home to a cluttered, untidy, "dirty" house that night. Actually, the scene captured above is what my Husband came home to every other night, from the moment Colin could walk to now.
My Husband isn't the kind of individual that rails at me because the house is not tidy or, because a hot supper is not on the table for him when he comes home, (thank god). My Husband has learned to pick a path through the wreckage of toddler Hurricane, avoiding the sharp edges of blocks and books deftly as the Solider, who was taught to sense and avoid danger, he used to be. My Husband has seen true chaos and disorder, in the Middle East so, I suppose that coming home to a house littered with toys, books, DVD cases and a dirty kitchen is..."small":, but welcome, potatoes to him. From the perspective of my Husband, I can agree and, in this moment, I am not only grateful for my Husband's nature and experience but, I can almost see what he does but, that clarity does not come often.
I am not a, "Neat Freak" by any means but, I do enjoy a tidy home. My own Mother cleaned our home on a daily basis, I grew up on the scent of Lysol and spent a lot of time outdoors so my Mom could clean. At some point during my teenage years, living with my Mormon Dad and Step mom, I was taught that the, "Spirit" or, "Holy Ghost" resides more readily and easily in a home that is clean.
When I lived with my Dad and my Step mom, I was given chores and relied upon to help keep the three bedroom apartment we lived in clean. At one point, my Dad set a rule that I was to have my room clean by mid-day on Saturday's, when I was a teenager. I remember being angry about it, thinking that he didn't trust me to keep my room clean on my own, chaffing at having an expectation for my own space and conditions that I didn't feel were fair but, I was a teenager and well...isn't that what teenagers feel?
I think for my Mom, cleaning house was a way for her to work out her feelings and to get some, "peace" from her children, a kind of meditation of sorts. I think my Mom wanted us, her children, to be considerate and tidy but, my Mom took cleaning the home in her hands and I felt more often a bother about helping than anything else.
Now that I'm a Mother myself, I relate to my Mother more at this time. My 25 month old Son loves to help me clean and, I'm grateful that he wants to help but, sometimes, it's less of a pleasure to work with him than it is to clean on my own. I, "meditate" when I clean. I work out a lot of deep thoughts and worries, when I clean. I scrub, sweep, vacuum and wipe away frustrations and angers. When things in my home are orderly, gleaming, clean and sweet smelling, I feel peace, gratitude and love for my life, family and friends. I survey the work I have done cleaning with a shrewd eye, looking for anything I missed and my eyes rove in satisfaction, finding nothing more that is dusty, grimy or disorganized to my specifications.
My clean house is a reward to me, in so many ways. A clean house means my Husband will walk in and feel peace and welcome. My clean house means that my Son can find his toys. My clean house means I have worked hard and well for the day. My clean house became a Home.
My standard of clean has changed in the past couple of years. It is no longer easy for me to keep it as neat, organized and spotless as it once was. Up until today, I experienced turn-overs of frustration because I wasn't able to clean my house and, keep it clean for as long, as I used to be able to.
I no longer have the luxury, (yes...luxury, LOL) of having uninterrupted bouts of emotional, meditative cleaning that I once had. My Son likes to help and I want to foster that as much as I can. My Son likes to help with every chore he can and, I try to include him as much as possible but, even if I clean up on a twice daily basis, I am not able to keep my house as clean as I had been able to before my Son was born.
Today, I realized that I have a new standard of clean. Today, as I looked around my ground floor in the aftermath of a double Toddler Tsunami, I realized that my previous definition of clean has become obsolete.
As long as the dirty dishes in the kitchen aren't piled to the ceiling, there aren't too many stains on my carpet, as long as I don't have to wade through scattered DVD cases and books, as long as the dust isn't so thick on my bookcases I could make a sweater out of it, as long as the fish gets fed thrice a week, as long as there aren't huge chunks of food strewn around the house, well then...it's not THAT dirty.
My "New" standard of clean: