I knew when I signed on for this parenting gig over 10 years ago that spotless rooms were a thing of the past. Even before that, with a highly hands-on, mechanically inclined husband, I knew that household cleanliness was going to be a challenge. I was armed with scrub brushes, sprays, polishes…I thought I was prepared. What I didn’t anticipate was call FEMA, bring in the Red Cross and declare my home a disaster area.
I spent my first year of marriage following my husband around the house, wiping grease-ridged fingerprints from surfaces and shop-vaccing dirt clumps tracked in on his work boots. I thought ahead as I was eight-months pregnant and choose the color of the carpet in our new house, anticipating spilled juice and who knows what else would be ground in during the toddler years. I had no idea that by the time my son was five and we repainted, I’d concede that the grime won and choose a dark forest green for the common area walls.
I gave up the battle. It was shortly thereafter that the laundry pile started developing its own personality, unidentified suspicious odors could be found congregating in various rooms, we could write messages to each other in the dust that accumulated on the top edges of our couches. I did the bare necessities in order to get the family from one day to the next without starving or leaving the house semi-naked. We slogged through, day-to-day like that for a few years.
Now my son is older and I have a source of free labor, couched in the guise of “weekly chores”. Its amazing how clothes no longer litter the bathroom floor now that he’s responsible for keeping it clean. Toys miraculously find their way back to where they belong. Shoes are removed beside the door. Its a lesson that’s a work in progress.
Don’t get me wrong, I still spend the bulk of my day on house-cleaning duty, but its no longer a futile gesture. I still fantasize about an alcove of snowy white sheers gently wafting in the breeze of an open window (that somehow has no smeared doggy noseprints and still has a screen on it) with pristine alabaster walls and a windowseat. All unbesmirched by handprints, cookie crumbs, or koolaid stains and barricaded against the perpetrators. I still wait for the day when I can safely have my white room.