I grew up in a big house my parents built out in the country and for much of my childhood, they wanted to sell the house (in part, I’d guess, because they couldn’t afford to heat it). As a result of their desire to move, I had to do even more cleaning than was already required by a mother who prioritized a clean house over most everything else. All that cleaning felt like a never-ending cycle of drudgery.
Dusting all the furniture, including every single chair rung. Vacuuming upstairs and downstairs plus two flights of carpeted stairs. Applying lemon oil to the paneling. Washing windows. Mopping the slate foyer. Cleaning bathrooms. Lather rinse repeat.
Oddly enough, as an adult I really dislike cleaning. 🙃 I married someone who isn’t much interested in it, either, and our various homes have always been messy. Part of that’s because we’ve always had dogs and cats which means hair gets everywhere. Today, Zippy and I did a thorough cleaning (there’s already animal hair on the floors!) which got me thinking about my friend Rebecca who I taught with in California.
Rebecca grew up in a household completely different from mine: her parents were more like Zippy and me, and their home was a bit on the chaotic side. That bugged the hell out of Rebecca who grew up to be an adult with a spotless home. And when she heard my tale of childhood woe, she suggested cleaning for me. Initially, I felt really uncomfortable on several levels, but she assured me that (a) she sincerely enjoyed cleaning and (b) I’d be doing her a favor because she needed to make more money.
So, Rebecca cleaned our house and, as far as I know, she never became enraged when the overstretched vacuum cord unplugged itself or the bag needed emptying or the handle came loose and slammed her in the leg. She never cried tears of frustration at the streaks on the window that would not go away, no matter how many times she washed and dried it. Rebecca whistled while she worked.
I thought about her today as I cleaned (without whistling although I was thrilled to NOT be pushing around the approximately 80-pound Kirby vacuum of my childhood) and remembered our theory about why we had such different outlooks on housekeeping. We both believed she became a clean freak because of her upbringing and that I’m a messy-mess because of mine. And then it hit me: while my two sons were required to do weekly cleaning, they were raised in an environment in which most every activity took priority over a clean house, and neither one of them is a clean freak. Not even close.
My theory doesn’t hold up.
Maybe I need more data. How about you? Are you neat and tidy or do you lean more to messy? What kind of upbringing did you have in regards to cleaning? It’s possible your experience will bolster my faltering theory but even if it doesn’t, I’d love to hear from you. Spill, please.