Domestic Happiness

Lately I’ve gone back to separating my house up into so many rooms per day for my weekly cleaning.  Yesterday I cleaned the kitchen and the hallway (which includes the staircase and the landing upstairs).  Today it’ll be the living room and the den.  Tomorrow will be the bathroom which doubles as the laundry room (sort of), the mudroom, and the master bedroom.  Thursday will be the upstairs bathroom and the pantry.  And so on and so on, until the house is cleaned.

I plan to stay on this cleaning schedule at least until March, to get rid of some clutter and also to get the house really clean in time for the gardening season, at which point I can disappear behind a pile of mulch and pretend like I don’t hear the desperate calls coming from the house for food and clean clothes.

Seedlings will emerge, the days will lengthen, bursts of color will fill my yard and my mind, until finally fall will be here and my house will be full of cobwebs and dirt tracks (from me tracking through the house in dirty garden clothes) and I will live in an overwhelmed state of panic, dread, and probably a lot of standing and staring, until finally I realize, after a long winter of eating too much, that I probably should go on the so-many-rooms-per-day cleaning schedule so that I can be ready for spring.

And so life goes on.  And on and on and on.  A sane person might say, What’s the point? and just decide that cleaning is not worth it, and neither is gardening for that matter, and just give up the domestic ghost and live in a sea of crumbs.  So what if there’s a weeks worth of food on anyone’s clothes?  Does it matter?
Oh, but it does!  There’s something good about working and cleaning and taking care of things.  There’s something to being domestic and finding joy in polishing wood and spraying down countertops.   There is good in raising children to put things away.  (Even if I have one errant child.  But lets save that for another post.  Okay?)

I surfed around some yesterday reading about domesticity and raising little homemakers.  All I’ll say is that it can be overwhelming to try to achieve another person’s concept of domestic perfection, but I think we can all appreciate the wonderfulness of doing one thing thoroughly and then standing back to admire it.   So I pried Michaela away from the animal rescue videos she was watching and we went into the kitchen together and happily began to clean.

We sprayed down cabinets and counters with water infused with grapefruit essential oil.  We soaped up four cleaning rags from the rag box and put them under our bare feet and skated around the kitchen floor until it was smooth and shiny (as shiny as old can be).

We stopped to dance in circles at one point at which Annie barked and jumped with excitement.   I called a halt to the festivities at a reasonable interval, reminding Michaela that we’ll be back in the kitchen next Monday, so let’s not go crazy.

I went to bed content that the two rooms on my list got cleaned well, clean enough to mark off the list and my daughter learned a touch about routines and being a little homemaker.  (I’m not sure why, but Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” is playing in the back of my mind.)

The air was full of a clean citrus smell that even Michaela noticed and appreciated.  My oldest son remarked on how good the floor felt.  (Obviously my children have something to compare to!)  A Japanese-looking lantern sat in the upstairs window, flickering with a cinnamon candle, sending out a warm signal to passersby, at least I hope, that this is a home much loved and lived in.  We may not be domestic perfection, but we are happy and alive and trying.

Enjoy this day!


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