by Beth Boswell Jacks
Mothers are expected to be Miz Clean, you know. And no matter how often family members try to help, the mop still fits Mama’s hands best.
Here’s a clever hint, therefore, I’m passing on to women with persnickety families.
Anonymous said: “Mix one-quarter cup pine-scented household cleaner with four cups of water in a spray bottle. Mist the air lightly. Leave dampened rags in conspicuous locations. Develop an exhausted look, throw yourself onto the couch, and sigh, ‘I clean and I clean and I still don't get anywhere. . . .’"
Good advice. I mean, the place smells clean – what more do you want?
A good friend once told me, “It’s the ‘illusion of clean’ you’re after. Really, who’s going to be looking under your bed?” She could be right. And anyway, what’s a little dirt in the corners? Quentin Crisp says there’s no need to do any housework at all because “after the first 4 years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.”
Well, I’m not sure about that, but I do know that spring cleaning time is upon us, and women are going to suffer with mountains of guilt if we don’t spiffy things up around the old casa. But where, pray, do we start with such a daunting project?
I’m told it’s best to take one room at a time, which, for me, presents a dizzying problem.
I take the magazines to the bedroom and spy 3 dozen broken, tangled clothes hangers G-Man has left on the bed. These must go in the trash, so I head for the garbage bag I’ve hung by the kitchen door.
I stuff the hangers in the garbage bag and turn around, quickly noticing that poochie Pharaoh has knocked over his water dish. Grabbing a handful of paper towels, I clean up the water and, in the process, wipe up several muddy dog tracks on the tile – which draws my attention to . . .
The rotting potatoes in the potato bin under the rolling chopping block which needs oiling but must wait because it’s not the kitchen’s turn. It’s the den’s turn.
Back to the den I go, determined to spring clean in the proper order.
I’m not sure this falls under cleaning, but I suddenly realize that the pictures of the grandchildren on the den coffee table are old – at least 2 to 4 years old. In her coffee table picture, Lila is bald as a doorknob and now she has curls all over her head; Meredith no longer has braces; Caroline is 6 – she’s been out of diapers for years. The Dowdy 4 are too grown to sit and grin in a bathtub together. I gather the frames and go upstairs to hunt more current pictures.
I find a box of memorabilia in the guest bedroom; some photos are old and some rather new, so I sit down on the floor to sort through, selecting favorites for the spruced up coffee table in my soon-to-be spotless den.
In my lowly floor position, I glance back and – awkkk! Dust bunnies under the bed.
That’s when I realize my friend is all wrong. Who’s going to be looking under the bed? Me! It’s an inevitable part of an impossible cleaning circle that has absolutely no end.
Gimme that pine-scented spray and a Dramamine. I quit.
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For stories at USADS by columnist Beth Boswell Jacks, click here: SNIPPETS
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