Moms agree: there are certain types of cleaning that qualify as compulsion. It can be a three-week-long Spring cleaning binge or weekly cleaning before the cleaning lady comes. I have a friend who used to clean like a fiend -- for the exterminator. As for me, my compulsion cleaning is the cleaning I do before my Mother comes to visit.
What am I afraid of?
Will she disown me if she looks under the love seat and finds the lonely remnant of the stinky sock fight my boys had last night?
Will she click her tongue in disapproval at the tiny hand prints of my three-year-old left from watching squirrels play outside our dining room window? Will she check for dust behind the refrigerator? Will she scowl at an unscoured bit of shower soap scum?
Does she walk through my home judging, running her glowing white gloves over every surface?
Of course not. But in case you're listening, SC Johnson, if you ran television ads with only the words
YOUR MOTHER IS COMING
and the music from Psycho, I would buy every product in your product line.
What is funny is that my Mom and I have a good relationship, and I look forward to her coming. She is my friend and my children's treasured grandmother. But while she is here, I live in fear that she will notice something that needs doing around our home and utter those four fateful words no mother wants any other woman to say in her home.
"Let me do it."
When Mom comes to visit, I work myself ragged just trying to beat her to whatever job catches her attention. After supper, there is practically a race for the job I despise the most -- washing the dishes.
In any other circumstance, I would bring flowers to someone who washed the dishes for me. I have been known to pay my oldest son a whopping dollar to do a big load of dishes. Today's true confession of motherhood is this: our supper dishes usually wait until morning to be done. At the end of my day there are just a thousand places I would rather spend my last reserves of energy. So, dishes get rinsed or scraped and neatly stacked, but I do not load the dishwasher or wash the pans until morning. Need proof?
Voila. Last night's dishes. Martha Stewart perfection I am not.
Maybe that's what I'm worried my mother will suddenly "discover." It's my horrid truth of mothering, that I would rather have a tickle fight with my kids after supper or sit and watch the news with my husband than tackle a pile of dishes.
I guess that's why for the next five days there will be a race from the supper table to see which woman can get the fastest case of dishpan hands. It's a pride thing.
I suppose it's something I should work on. Maybe I should be more accepting of help or give my mother more credit for understanding the stresses of raising my brood. After all, she raised six of us, so she's no stranger to the cluttered life of a mother with young children -- right?
So, I'm resolving to do better during this visit, here, publicly, on Midwest Moms. (She arrives tomorrow... have I mentioned it?) I will try to let go of small details and stop this compulsive cleaning behavior.
Yep. I'll get started on that...
... right after I clean the grout in the front hallway. Anybody got a toothbrush?
- Midwest Mom