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The Household Deity

Old-fashioned broom I never actually use (but more picturesque than Swiffer)
Old-fashioned broom I never actually use (but more picturesque than Swiffer)

Every week, I pay respect to the household deity.

And by that, I mean that I clean the fuck out of our house.

I scrub the kitchen floor properly, with water and soap, on all fours, like a maid in a porn movie. I clean the microwave, wipe the counter tops, then I vacuum the house entirely, damp-mop the wooden floors, do a load or two of laundry, then clean the bathrooms, the shower, the toilets and relentlessly move things from one room to the next, picking up scattered items belonging to Mark (75% of the time), Feng (20% of the time) or myself (5% of the time, I’m so fucking neat, I know).

Then I put the laundry in the dryer, sort it out, put the trash out, make sure the floors are dry and I sigh.

The house is clean.

It won’t last.

Enter the tiger and the dragon. On Sunday, you’d better not make a mess. All my efforts are still way too fresh in my mind and in my sore muscles.

“I want a jam sandwich!”

“Of course, honey. I’ll put one in your lunchbox for tomorrow.”

“I eat watching TV.”

“Your jam sandwich? Over my dead body, honey. Love you too.”

“Do you want to give him crackers?”

“If he eats them sitting at the table, yes.”

Acceptable options in front of the TV are limited. Yogurt, apple sauce, fruit, maybe cheese. Crackers? Ah. I don’t think so. Crackers crumble into crumbs.

Of course, I couldn’t have foreseen that night that the mess will turned out to be a glass of Sprite that fell off the table—I saw it happen right in front of my eyes, an epic slow-motion moment—and shattered on the freshly mopped kitchen floor.

“Mommy not happy.”

You bet, honey. Picking up shards of glass was not what I had in mind that evening. I didn’t even get mad, though. I just sighed and grabbed the mop. Accidents happen.

“Oh, look, it’s fixed!” said Mark the following day when he spotted another similar glass on the table. Good thing kids are innocent and cute.

Hump day brings a recurring dilemma: should I attempt to clean again or should I just give up and wait a few more days for another deep cleaning? It is worth it to do another load of laundry? To vacuum the carpet, even though more mess is to be expected?

By the end of the week, anything goes. Chicken nuggets in front of the TV? You bet. A boiled egg and crackers with that? Be my guest. “Just this one time,” I assert, not believing a word of what I’m saying and ready to accept anything for some peace and quiet.

I don’t aim for perfection and I’m not trying to impress anyone—we never have guests, I think the last time we had someone over was when Mark was an infant. But minimal clutter and acceptably-clean surfaces put my mind at ease. One less thing to worry about, one tiny piece of life under control. It’s… soothing.

As much as my Italian genes command me to play the martyr, I actually enjoy my weekly deep cleaning. For once, I disconnect. Emails and work can wait. I have the house to myself, so I look for some documentary on Youtube, click on “Play” and turn the volume up, a nice change when I’m used to headphones and low volume because Mark is (supposed to) sleep. I clean methodically, efficiently and let me mind wander. If you really want to know, I mentally drafted this article while sorting out Mark’s clothes and mopping the living room floor—ah!

Beside, cleaning is instant gratification. You can see the result.

I can’t complain too much. The guys are actually pretty clean—if a bit messy—and the house is functional. When they come back, I like to show off. “Look, it’s clean!” I beam. “Yeah, I can smell it.” “But can you see it? Look at the difference!” “Wow, yes, the fridge is really clean.” “I did NOT clean the fridge. But look at the microwave!”

Even Mark learned to “wow” on command (even though an hour later he will complain that something is “yucky“—who taught him this word?

I just wish the fresh-and-clean feeling would last.

But that’s not going to happen. Life is a series of changes… and it all starts with a few crumbs on the floor.

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