Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's a dirty Job

Many people mistakenly believe that the opposite of clean is dirty. I, however, am about to prove to you that they are one in the same. Stay with me.

There are several factors that can constitute a house that isn't perfectly clean. These factors, however, can't make a house dirty. For example; if the pictures on the wall are all crooked and the table isn't straight and the chairs aren't pushed in, the rug has a wrinkle, the couch cushions are all in one corner and the trash should have been taken out a few hours ago, then clearly, no housewife would look around and say “Ahhhh, a clean house!”

However, that's not dirty. That's just messy. Messy is also toys left out, jackets not hung up, clean dishes on the counter, and things like that. Messy isn't a health hazard, and it can usually go away within a few minutes.

Crumby is another story. I once had a friend with a broken vacuum. I loved her dearly, but instead of buying a $40 vacuum, she just swept the carpet and there were crumbs everywhere. I have another friend whose dishwasher liked to leave a layer of crumbs on everything, so instead of rinsing better, she'd just put the crumbs away with the dishes. In one case, the crumbs were clean, in another case the crumbs were dirty. Either way, crumbs are in the “dirty” family. However, a clean house that has a few crumbs is, in fact, not clean, is it? Is it dirty?

Stickiness is another something we moms have to deal with. Sure, I know people whose kids always have their hands wiped when they get down from the table. The only one I can think of is a family with 2 kids and a full time nanny. The fact is, kids can be sticky little people and sometimes you might not notice where they put their sticky little hand until you walk in the door one day and a gust of wind adheres every speck of dust in the county to the ten thousand jelly hand prints your toddler left behind. A house can look completely clean today, but when that little wind comes through, it's definitely dirty.

Dusty is another mess factor in just about every home. Some areas have it worse than others. If you're a mom in Lancaster, California you are hereby excused from dusting because, admit it, it doesn't help anyway. Everyone else, learn this one fact; kids like to dust.

If you can tear them away from the idea of a feather duster, get yourself a Costco sized box of swiffer floor cleaning pads and write their name on one with a sharpie marker. Every now and then, announce (with glee) that it's swiffer time and put on some funky song.

Here's ours; only instead of saying Hammer time, we say Swiffer time. In case you wondered.

Fingerprinted is another situation. That jelly-handed kid comes through after eating some greasy french fries and touches walls, windows, table, cabinet doors, light switches, curtains. All these surfaces require a different kind of cleaning. A different rag, a different chemical or sponge. Chances are, you'll notice them at different times. That's just how these things work. However, does this mean your house hasn't been clean since the day he ate those fries, of course not.

The hardest obstacle on my personal path to clean is disarray. Like the first example, where chairs were crooked and tables weren't centered, pictures were off center, I've got a far worse brand of disarray going on. I'm not a knick-knack person so my shelves have books on them, however with 6 homeschooled kids and a work-at-home writer mom, we use a lot of books. I don't mean to say that we have a lot of books, I mean that we're using a lot. There are always stacks of books out in different areas for current projects, plus there are the groups of books from forgotten projects, books we keep meaning to read and books we haven't read yet but don't plan to. There are stacks of books we mean to get rid of, books we intend to return to the library and this is all times five because there are basically five of us with enough literacy skills and complicated projects to warrant all these separate stacks of books. For the rest, there are bathroom newspapers, coloring books, and bedtime stories. Not to mention family photo albums and cookbooks that don't really belong to anyone.

And yes, there are fingerprints on some of them.

So if the house is clean and it has a few crumbs, is it no longer clean? Does a little sticky handprint, or greasy prints on the window make it a dirty house? Is a house that is otherwise free from all those other messes, but in a state of disarray a mess? Do a few dishes on the counter or in the sink make the house a mess? Nahhh, plain and simple, there's no such thing.

The only way the house can really not be clean is if it's dirty, and dirty is just a combination of all those other things, so if you've got sticky and greasy hand prints, dust, food more than a day old anywhere in the house, dishes that are more than a day old (unless it's that pan that won't quite fit into the dishwasher) and crumbs and mess and disarray in every room, THEN the house is officially dirty.

I've known a lot of moms in my day, some with houses on the clean side and some with houses on the dirty side. The cleanest-housed-lady I know has a linen closet that's folded every which way, and poisons her dandelions. The messiest housed lady I know eats entirely organic and none of her 5 kids has ever had a cavity. So whether you're the clean type, the messy type or the dirty type, it's all good. It's all relative. It's all the same, isn't it?

1 comment:

Emily the Great and Terrible said...

Am I the friend with a broken vacuum? Cuz, I remember you coming over and I had swept the carpet. lol. I just have to know. I did get the vacuum fixed, btw, just not that day. If I don't vacuum every day, things get crumb-y real fast.