Thursday, May 30, 2013

i used a mop and i liked it

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Cleaning is not my forte. It is not something I love. Oh, every once in awhile I get a wild hair and go on a rampage, purging and organizing and sterilizing some area of my house. Usually it's in the middle of the night when I can't sleep. Or when my mother is coming to visit. Or both.

Not the healthiest cleaning routine, would you say?

Strangely enough, I think I inherited this from my mom. Now, our home was always clean growing up. Mom stayed home with us kids until I was in high school, so time wasn't an issue for her then. However, she was quick to point out that she was NOT a "housewife" by any stretch. She was WIFE to the hunk she married, and she lived in a HOME not a house. And she kept our home clean out of a sense of pride and blessing for her family, not out of any obligation.

But truth be told, there were lots of other things she'd rather be doing than cleaning.

When she went to work, my brother and I were older, which meant we could/should take on more responsibility around the house. We all did our part, even Dad, who took special pride in his ability to create patterns in the carpet when he vacuumed.

It seemed like every Saturday was spent cleaning. Monday through Friday was filled with school, work, band, piano, ball games, and loads of homework. Sunday was reserved for church, family, and rest. So it fell to Saturday to be the day of woe.

I stayed in that trend after I married. Every other weekend my step-children were with us, and while we wanted to spend as much time with them as possible, some of that included sharing house cleaning responsibilities. Not exactly a trip to Disney World, but hopefully it taught them something useful. Still, I didn't exactly enjoy spending Saturdays mopping and scrubbing toilets.

A few years ago, I remembered a distant fact about those later years at home. Right before I moved away,  Mom hired a housekeeper to come every two weeks and help with the big stuff - mopping, dusting, bed linens, bathrooms, etc. That didn't relieve us of keeping up our laundry, personal areas and the common areas, but it sure kept us from spending every Saturday inside.

After checking around, I found out it was economically feasible for me to get help around the house. Now I have a team who descends on my house every three weeks to do the heavy lifting. It’s reasonably priced and worth the sacrifice to keep my family from having to spend all day on Saturdays cleaning. We still have to keep things up, of course, and the night before the cleaners come, we spend time clearing away any clutter so they can do their stuff. But we like it better when we keep it up as we go.

So cleaning is still not my favorite thing to do. But it's funny how something unpleasant at home can be nearly enjoyable in someone else's space. A few months ago, my project moved back into our original space after a renovation. As with most renovations, there was dust and clutter everywhere. It was distressing to work in a dirty environment, and we knew that soon other projects would be joining us in our space.

After a few weeks of chaos and waiting for Facilities to come take care of our space, I'd had enough. I rounded up my neglected vacuum cleaner, duster, mop and bucket, and took them to work.

I spent two days throwing away trash, vacuuming dust and bugs, and getting our work space into spit-spot shape. No one asked me to do it. No one assumed since I was one of the few women on the team that it was my responsibility. One of the senior guys on the team actually asked me if I minded or resented what I was doing. Truth was, I didn't mind and I didn't resent it. I did it because I wanted to.

I suppose if someone had looked at me and said, "Hey, you! Since you're a woman, you need to clean this space," I probably would have lodged a complaint with HR. But since it was my idea, and since I was doing it out of a sense of price in our renovated lab, it was actually - dare I say it - pleasurable!

When I looked at how much better everything was, and listened to the comments of my co-workers, I felt rewarded. And it seemed to motivate them to straighten up all the mangled gear and cords we had unpacked weeks earlier. Now our lab is neat and welcoming. Sort of like a home.

It reminded me of what my mom used to say about keeping a home out of a sense of pride and blessing. I am blessed to work with a great team on an interesting project in a safe environment. I am blessed to have a happy home where I can welcome family and friends and strangers, and make them feel comfortable. So if picking up a mop or scrubbing a toilet is a way to show appreciation and express hospitality, it seems like a very small price to pay.

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