Against my better judgment (and fighting my desire to stay in bed,) I got up bright and early and cleaned the house top-to-bottom (literally, I started upstairs and worked my way to the basement level) so the men will have a “blank canvas” to work on this weekend. The weather forecast puts on teetering on the edge of yucky so I am expecting there will be plenty of opportunities for them to pile books, newspapers, shoes, Legos, cups, discarded sweatshirts and such all over the place, but I am at peace with it because I took pictures and I will always have the memory of this neat house I’m in right now.
Yes, they’ll help pick up. They are not cavemen, my men…but it’s never as neat and clean and fresh as when I’ve done it myself. Perhaps, yes, this is anal retentive of me, but I feel very satisfied that I know where everything is right now because by six o’clock we’ll be back to normal.
We have someone working a 12-hour shift tonight so the evening will be spent just J, Dada and I, and we’ll probably be told -in no uncertain terms- that our company is neither wanted nor welcome so we might just end up reading or watching a movie. Today I had the audacity of organizing J’s movies (because a mountain of DVDs is not anyone’s idea of “accessible”) and I’m certain this will ruffle some feathers; J LOVES it when his room is neat as a pin because, once he’s done protesting about it, he can put it back the way it was except for the layer of dust that he will have to labor to collect on every surface…
I discovered, while cleaning the boys’ bathroom (boys…fool…those are NOT boys, not even the one with the boxing gloves and the Maxim calendar on his wall) I discovered that they have more hair products than hair, that the same people who are always looking for the nail clippers in my bathroom have all the nail clippers in theirs, that there is a very distinct imaginary line drawn on that countertop separating J’s mess from his brother’s mess. The only thing they agree on is the Peanuts shower curtain. While one always misses the laundry basket, the other one puts his dirty clothes in all but folded. I turned around and both their bedroom doors were open…the distinct imaginary line marks their territory as clearly as the wall between their rooms does. For all of J’s mess, it is NOTHING in comparison to his brother’s; I dare anyone to go into that bedroom without a pith helmet and machete.
Before moving cross-country I weeded out so many things we didn’t need that I am surprised to still have as much stuff as we do. My rule of thumb was “don’t need, don’t want, don’t keep.” The kitchen stuff I packed in a plastic bin because “I’ll need it sooner or later” became the stuff that is still sitting in that plastic bin and will soon be sent to the shelves in the garage. Almost six months after moving in, I am still trying to find a better way to organize the hallway closet because our oldest insists that a whole shelf has to reserved for First Aid Equipment (you’d think he has a defibrillator up there) and all the medication that we have for colds, upset stomachs, rashes, and such. Do we need a soft cast? Really? Isn’t that like inviting doom? This is the house where if you look tired, a certain someone will take your blood pressure and ask when you last ate. J sometimes fakes symptoms just to keep his brother entertained; perhaps he remembers the days when they’d go through a whole box of band-aids and walked around looking like low-budget mummies.
Today I came into contact with stuffed toys, action figures, DVDs, CDs, photo albums…the morning went by in a flurry of “THIS is where THAT had been left! Huh!” People will come home (or wake up) to discover all their socks are in matching pairs, the spice and herb rack is alphabetized (it makes cooking a lot quicker and more efficient, ok?,) the recycling has been sorted, the trash has been taken out, the laundry has been folded and neatly put away. A collective groan will fill the air, punctuated here and there by “where did you FIND this? I’ve been looking for this!,” and then the complaining will resume. J will look around his room with something akin to despair, and then -surreptitiously- he will start moving things so that his mess starts looking more like its usual self. The Great Gonzo will complain that all the hair products are in the bottom drawer and that he is the one who uses the brightening-whitening toothpaste not the minty-fresh, and my husband, bless him, will leave his socks in his shoes and say “I’ll throw them in with the dirty stuff later.”
Why did I do it? Why did I go room by room cleaning the whole house? Why did I dust and wipe and polish and sweep and refresh and air out and gather and store? Why did I invest an entire morning using every cleaning product I own and making sure the pillows were fluffed and the ceiling fans cleaned? Because I was feeling lazy, because winter is getting to me and I don’t want to turn into a lump of me while the weather goes on outside. That and I relish a clean house that suddenly becomes occupied by the usual suspects with their noises, their messes, their smells (yes, they smell…some sweeter than others.) By six o’clock the house will smell like pizza and dirty socks and sneakers, like shampoo and deodorant and wet towel. By six o’clock J’s music will be tumbling down the stairs, ebbing and flowing as he opens his door, the jingle of the bell on his doorknob interrupting the melodies; I will hear the wood floors creaking, the giggles traveling through the air vents, The Great Gonzo singing in the shower and my husband knocking things over in the kitchen (thirteen years and as many coffee makers in that time…always a clatter somewhere here.)
Today is Mozart’s birthday and I’ve been cleaning with music streaming all over the place…it has all been very calm and happy and, well, lonely. J’s birthday is next Tuesday! The last baby I’ll ever have is going to be seventeen, is 5’9″ and has a rather substantial mustache (the picture you see on my page is from his fourteenth birthday…) This weekend I had to start from scratch…savor their arrival, the way they weave themselves into the fabric of the house…
The canvas is blank and I feel like clapping my hands while saying “the painters are coming! The painters are coming!”