The S. family

When I was a kid, we were very close to another family I'll call the S's. Our parents were close. We went to the same church. The kids went to the same schools and we were close in age. But, despite how close we all were and how we seemed to be part of a larger church family, we were also soooo different.

We were excessively clean. My Dad's family cleaned for the sake of things being clean and my Mom followed their way. Everything was clean. The floors shone, the surfaces were dusted, windows were regularly washed as were walls, screen porches and the front door. Beds were always made, laundry didn't build up and dishes were done promptly after meals.

The S's were not. There was always laundry everywhere. spread around the floor and the furniture, and the ironing board sat out all the time. The house was dark. They had a bed wetter and the house constantly smelled of urine. Floors were dirty, dishes were stacked all over (even though they had a dishwasher and we didn't). Dust rose from the furniture and rugs. Dirt ruled. And, they always had rabbits and cats in the house. The S's were always clean...but their house was not.

Their theory on dishes was simple. Do the dishes next time you need the table. Until then, they can sit there. So, they'd leave the lunch dishes on the table until suppertime and presumably the supper dishes waited until breakfast the next day. It was not unusual to visit and find a fat, long-haired siamese on the dining table, licking a dinner plate. It was incredibly gross.

It's funny how close our two families were and yet how incredibly different.

I would dearly love for my house to be as clean as my Mom kept house when I was a kid. But, alas, lots has changed since then. We don't find it necessary to mop the kitchen floor and scour the sink every night before bed. And, I can simply wipe away the grime on the stove instead of scrubbing it every day, like my Grandparents did. A window that is too cloudy to see through is "defective" rather than dirty until someone proves different. And, rinse and stack is a good substitute for washing dishes when we're in a hurry.

Not that I keep house like the S family. But, my theory on housecleaning is more like a sign I saw at an Aunt's house: My house is clean enough to be healthy (and dirty enough to be happy).

That sign has always stuck with me. I bet my Aunt never thought anyone would take that piece of funny decoration and turn it into their theory on how to live a good life.

We grow up to be who we are, based on what we see when we are young.

It's been a long haul to get my kid to see that clean for the sake of being clean is important (at least to Rob and I). But, based on the change in her complaints, I know that she's changing how she thinks about living in a clean, safe place.

Oh, and for years, when my Mom would hear that I was planning a party, she'd admonish me to make sure there was no cat hair in the food.



Anonymous said...

I've got two cross-stitched samplers in my house that state my views on cleaning. One is "Housework is a Bummer" the other is "A Clean House is a sign of a Misspent Life". When it starts to get bad or I can't stand it anymore, than I clean.

JoAnne said...

My mom had a little sign in our house growing up: Dull People Have Immaculate Houses

It has impacted me. My house is clean, but not immaculate. And I'm not dull--I'm a quilter!

Have a great day!

Crunchy Diva said...

i love that 'My house is clean enough to be healthy (and dirty enough to be happy).' i have to admit that is exactly what my home is like & that is how i want it & how it will stay.

Shay said...

My Mum kept a clean but liveable house . We were allowed to make mess but it had to be tidied at the end of the day. I dont do well with mess around me so our house is almost always tidy. You couldnt eat off my floors though. My Mum's house is still way cleaner than mine - I tell myself thats because I work ...

Elizabeth said...

I would say our house it clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy. I really like having a clean living space, but I dislike that it only lasts a few minutes. So, I do what I must to keep things organized and ignore the rest. I'd definitely like to be cleaner, but I start to resent the time I spend cleaning when no one appreciates it. It is something I am constantly trying to improve. It is hard to find the right balance.

xo -E

lw said...

I like to keep a clean house, but with three dogs and a cat, it's not easy. I can't keep it as clean as I want without spending most of my Saturdays cleaning. My husband got tired of not having my company and he hired cleaning ladies. One day a week for a few hours, you could eat off the floors. Then I let the dogs in and dog hair is once again a condiment.