Of Dirt and Dustbunnies
By Nicole Freire
Nicole's Book Club
I just want to make it clear from the outset that I am NOT a bad housekeeper. I can vacuum and do laundry and load the dishwasher and kind of keep it together between the two kids and the two adults working full-time. You would not see my house on the news because the stacks of newspaper finally reached the ceiling and the fifty cats I kept inside made the house uninhabitable.
I am not compulsive about housecleaning, only because there are only so many hours in the day and I want to be sleeping for about 8 of them, and then there's work, ok, another 9 to 10 hours and then there's food preparation (notice I didn't say 'cooking') and now higher math is getting involved so let's just stop there.
And the housekeeping gets shared, don't think that I'm doing all the heavy lifting. The girls have chores, my husband referees the homework battles, which excuses him from cleaning the bathroom, and we all manage to stay just this side of what I like to call "messy but not disgusting". Our little house stays ok. I have nice paintings on the walls and a giant purple chair that deserves it's own column and it's a nice little house. And it is little, so there's not an extra room I could hide all five of the laundry baskets in or stash the gazillion pieces of artwork my children come home with. It's little enough that I can stand in the hallway and see every single room.
I say all this because today I had my house cleaned. And not just cleaned. It was "detailed from top to bottom". Windows too. Blinds and the carpet. It is unbelievable. It was a fair exchange, I gave some people an envelope of cash and left for a few hours and came back to a house so clean that I actually got choked up a little bit when I came back. (They also left me flowers on the table. FLOWERS.) It just looks so pretty and the sun is shining through the windows and I love it.
And I have a very healthy amount of guilt mixed up in this whole housecleaning thing, regardless of the fact that I wanted it done, heck, needed it done, and paid for it with my own money. I feel a little guilty that I couldn't do it all myself and could someone please remind me that this guilt is ridiculous?
But this column isn't about the guilt, but I had to talk about it first, because I'm not compulsive about cleaning, I'm compulsive about telling the world about it. No, the reason for this column and the reason for the insanely detailed house cleaning is because of two little words.
As in, book club at my house.
It's a new book club (to me) and at the last meeting, people were standing around eating cashews and talking about the next book and then someone said, "Well, who's hosting the next meeting?" And one person said they did it last time and another person said that their house was really, really small and they couldn't do it and then there was this lull in the conversation and I felt like people were looking at me?
So I said something like "Well, we could have it at my house, which is really, really small too but we can sit on the floor I guess?" And then I ate some more cashews and started to panic a little bit, while everyone else worked out the date and time, and probably thought to themselves, "whew, got out of that one!"
Wouldn't you want your house clean if a book club was meeting at your house? You bet you would. I'll give you their number if you want it.
My house is small and the book club may indeed be sitting on the floor but it is a clean floor that they sit on.
Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.