Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring cleaning, part 1

From my wise and wonderful friend’s blog, I followed a link to wise and wonderful words from writer Anne Lamott – on how and why we need not be over-connected and over-busy. “Time is not free—that’s why it’s so precious and worth fighting for,” she writes.

I enjoyed Lamott’s musings about making time for living until this bit near the end:

Will they give me one hour of housecleaning in exchange for the poetry reading? Or wash the car just one time a month, for the turtles? No? I understand. But at 80, will they be proud that they spent their lives keeping their houses cleaner than anyone else in the family did, except for mad Aunt Beth, who had the vapors?

I would like to defend cleaning. Social anthropologist Mary Douglas described dirt as “matter out of place.” Cleaning, for me, is putting in place. At the end of the day, I sweep the Cheerios under the table into the dustbin, wipe clean the kitchen counters of coffee grounds, pick up the wooden train tracks and the building blocks on the living room rug and return them to their baskets.

Indeed, the tracks and blocks have baskets because everything must have its place - if not, then I will find or make one for it.

So, I am not talking about cleaning of the back breaking, shoulders aching, bones creaking, and clean squeaking kind, at least not on a regular basis :) The fact that we hire help on that front has contributed to the balance of 2 jobs + 2 kids.

I find the work of cleaning, and certainly its effects, satisfying. I take pride in having my house "clean" - that is, in order. It will be a fine thing to remember me by - or it would be, were cleaning not so belittled.

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