cleaning up

I used to think that my mom was obsessive-compulsive. I have distinct memories of having to clean the legs of the dining room table and chairs. We were a family of seven, and the dining room table was used daily; often the table was used for every single meal. The dining room set was intricately carved and this cleaning chore was so tedious that to this day I absolutely despise dusting.

And it’s all my mother’s fault.

I am hosting a meeting this morning. I can’t help but want to present a neat, clean, well-organized home to this handful of women. Vanity? Pride? Possibly…but mostly denial of my vocation. I used to have a neat, clean, well-organized home all the time. And then I had children. And then I began homeschooling. Now my house is neat, clean and well-organized if one compares it to the many clutterbugs I know. But it’s not up to my pre-children standards, and this bothers me greatly. I’ve learned to live with it, but for a few hours, I want to hide evidence of toys, schoolbooks, crayons, scrap paper, and sticky fingerprints and pretend that I live in tranquil simplicity most of the time.

I decided that the best place to have the meeting was the dining room. There are enough chairs for everyone (4 to 6 of us altogether) and a table for writing and for holding a nice hot cup of tea. So I looked at my dining room with a critical eye and discovered why my mom made me clean the legs of the chairs and table so often. They were disgusting.

Up until the end of April when we moved into this house and bought a kitchen table to use for breakfast and lunch, my dining room set hosted every meal of my house. And daily schoolwork. And every craft session. Despite washable slipcovers on the chairs and the use of a tablecloth at meals, drips, globs and goo had managed to decorate every leg of every chair, the legs of the table and the underside edge of the table which doesn’t get wiped up after dinner.

So last night, there I was, suffering from PTSD as I scrubbed away at the legs of the table and chairs. Fortunately, my dining set has much simpler lines and isn’t nearly as annoying to clean. And Jenny helped too. I guess she thought it was fun.

But I’ll bet if she had to do it every week, she’d grow to believe her mother was obsessive-compulsive.

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