DEEP THOUGHTS: Cleaning house: Is there a greater exercise in futility?
When I get home, I will need to take care of a few household chores.
It doesn't really matter when you are reading this, that opening line will always be true. Because household chores are never truly finished. Never will all the bathrooms be clean at the same time, and if they are, there's a good chance the floor needs vacuumed or mopped, or maybe there's a load of laundry to finish, or a few dishes have made their way into the sink. Ever watch a dog chase its tail? — they have better odds of catching it than my house ending up chore-free.
I sometimes wonder if it's worth the effort. I am convinced that dirty dishes and soiled laundry regenerate regardless of the level of household activity. I could be home alone, fast asleep and the dishes and laundry would still mysteriously pile up. I can't remember the last time both of those tasks were completely finished at the same time. Perhaps it's impossible, I don't know.
But one thing I do know is that it is much harder to clean a house when there are young children and pets in the picture. I have seen a quote that perfectly captures the struggle: "Cleaning house while children are in it is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos." Yup, pretty much.
But I should give credit where it's due. My son is slowly discovering the merits of a clean bedroom and bathroom. Someday, his interest in cleanliness might extend to the rest of the house, but hey, it's a good start. And his younger sister is starting to show similar care for her space — except she has quite the knack for make sure her belongings are strung throughout the rest of the home. Perhaps she is marking her territory.
No wait, that's the dogs' M.O. Our poor carpet — it's been shampooed more times than my hair, but our two pooches have no regard for our quest for clean floors. Multiple visits to the back yard — their canine restroom — but they choose the carpet. Add to that a couple of cats that occasionally cough up furballs and guinea pigs kicking hay out of their cages and it's a wonder we have a clean space in the house on which to step.
The whole situation sucks — and what's worse, our vacuum occasionally does not. Without tarnishing the good name of an inferior product, I will just say that we have a vacuum that seems to clog the moment we fire it up. Never mind that we already cleared out all the tubes and only ran the machine over a few spots of dirt and dander that are collectively incapable of blocking a 2-inch hose. It defies the laws of physics!
And so does the strange disappearance of socks. If someone knows where socks disappear to during the laundering process, I'm all ears. Despite my best efforts, our household has a continually steady supply of unmated socks. And in case you are wondering, I have checked under beds and other furniture, and I have waited out multiple laundry cycles in hopes that the missing mates would someday show up, finally able to reunite with their twins. No dice — they're just gone. They should devote an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries" to this phenomenon.
OK, I think I've probably ranted long enough, and entertaining conspiracy theories involving household chores is probably not a healthy habit. Besides, I have things pretty darn easy. At least I don't have to scrub clothes in a metal basin with a washboard. I am grateful for our dishwasher — even though it doesn't seem to have a functioning dry cycle. And sure, our carpets are perpetually soiled but at least I have flooring. In the old days, the floors were made of dirt. And cleaning a dirty bathroom is WAY better than cleaning a dirty outhouse. Yep, 21st Century, first-world chores aren't the worst thing ever.
But that doesn't mean I can't daydream about a lifestyle where I can afford a live-in housekeeper. As a kid, I watched shows like "Who's the Boss?" and "The Brady Bunch" without giving much thought to how lucky those households were — someone living under their roof taking care of all of the day-to-day cleaning. Now, it's the stuff of dreams. Imagine having the financial resources to pay for something like that?
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that those TV shows are far from realistic. Angela from "Who's the Boss?" was an advertising executive and Mike Brady was an architect — great jobs, but hardly high-paying enough to afford a live-in housekeeper.
So, I guess it's best to just continue plugging away at the never-ending list of household chores, pursuing a level of cleanliness that might forever stay out of reach. And if I continue to fail, I guess it's OK. I have come across some motivational sayings that suggest a messy house is a sign of a happy home. Right, sure it is — probably because nobody is burdened by household chores.
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