My struggle to get the house ready to put on the market illuminated a fact already well-known to me: I’m not a good homemaker. I want to be and know what I would need to do in order to win the approval of Martha Stewart, but it’s not going to happen. As much as I’d love to make scrubbing the baseboards in my home a regular chore, doing the dishes, throwing in a load of laundry, and taking a shower at night (if I don’t take it at night, there is no guarantee I’ll get one at all) is normally all I can accomplish before I go to bed.
My failings as a domestic goddess were already known to me before this process began. The depth of my failing, however, was quite the surprise. The more I cleaned, the more I discovered needed to be cleaned, and the absolute grotesque nature of some of these areas needing a good cleaning completely overwhelmed me.
I started to doubt my ability as a mother. What was I doing when my children splattered some kind of sauce all over the blinds? And more importantly, why had I never noticed this sauce that was splattered all over the blinds?! I did notice that it was not fun to try to remove….
Into the playroom for even more surprises! Crayon all over one wall, crayon on another, did my children ever use paper? And, again, how did I not notice this crayon?! Our walls are a dark color (thank goodness) camouflaging some of my kids’ most brilliant work, so I probably didn’t pause long enough to see what was really on the surface….
Maybe the gazillion toys before they were neatly organized in matching bins distracted me from the horrific gunk that I found on the blinds in this room, as well. What is it with my kids and the blinds? And what was that gunk?! Seriously, I do not know. It was gross and gooey, and I have no idea what it was. Although this post might lead you to believe otherwise, I am not a total slob. My kids are supposed to eat at the kitchen table, and I do not allow food fights, so how this sticky resin-looking substance ended up on my blinds, I do not know. All I know is that I had planned to smooth away some dust with a rag and instead had to scrub with all my might.
Even the den, an area of the house that saw regular attention, was a disappointment. Marks on the wall that I hadn’t noticed, dusty blinds (no gunk, amazingly), scuffed baseboards–no room passed the inspection.
When it was all over, it hit me: I will never be finished. The baseboards I cleaned a week ago looked dingy again. My heart sank a little.
And then another realization hit me: If I clean it now before the other areas of the house start to go, I won’t have to do them all at once again. And so I have tried to stay up on these tasks that I neglected previously.
I won’t say it’s easy–I still have three kids, and they still consume almost all of my waking moments–but starting fresh and maintaining rather than doing a major cleaning overhaul is a lot easier.
One final thought, more important than all those related to my home, hit me: “Your house looks great, but what about inside you? How are you doing?” For the next few days, I began to ponder this thought, and I realized I wasn’t the best housekeeper inside, either. I had neglected some areas of my spiritual life, and the fine layer of dust had become a little thicker, requiring more attention to wipe clean. Then there was one area of which I was so proud; I knew I had done so well in the past, and I rested on my laurels over time. It wasn’t until I gave myself a good look that I discovered the nasty gunk marring this area of my life, as well.
Perhaps all the distractions in my day had kept me from noticing what I was really like, much like the distractions in the playroom kept me from noticing the writing on the wall. Maybe I was so focused on eventually getting to the dusting that never got done in my struggling areas, that I didn’t keep up the one area that started out looking pretty good. It, too, began to look dingy from neglect.
So, in the spirit of spring cleaning, I gave myself a good inspection, going from room to room, dusting where I needed to dust, removing cobwebs, and hosing down with soap and water, when needed. And if I learned my lesson well, I will spend more time maintaining day-by-day, which is much easier in the long-run than cleaning gooey crap off the blinds.