I don’t profess to be a perfect housekeeper. My home is lived in and looks it. I can’t keep up with the clutter and frankly, I get tired of asking everyone else to pitch in. When I know no one is coming for a visit, I can live with certain things, like globs of toothpaste cemented to the kids’ bathroom sink and a little dust here and there…OK, everywhere. I don’t love it, but I can let it slide a few days or a week if I need to. I simply don’t look at it. And I have a set list of friends whom I’ll allow to witness the filth. Don’t get me wrong. If I know someone may drop by, I straighten up a little, clear the unfinished crafts off the kitchen counter, put the dirty dishes in the sink, push piles of toys into a bin. You know, hide stuff.
When the kids are in school, the house passes code. I have time to scrub the toilets and dust the fans and wipe who-knows-what from the walls. But sometimes, life still gets in the way and it’s so hectic that my choice is either to cook dinner or clean. Well, I like my food.
So today, while at a friend’s house, I notice that everything is white-glove clean. It always is. I wasn’t even a totally expected guest. Even upstairs, in the kids’ rooms, the playroom, everything is spotless.
“Do you clean every day?” I asked.
Yes, she spot-cleans some. “And I vacuum every day,” she said. Even her closets.
“I have a problem, I know,” she said, but she didn’t seem bothered by this syndrome. Her other friends tease that she never has footprints on her carpets.
Every day. Man, this summer at my house it’s been more like every other week, but I don’t dare admit that to her. Her son was just at my house. She probably had to shower him off when he got home in case he rolled around on my floor.
She showed me new furniture in her bedroom, like a magazine spread where nothing is out of place, not a thread, a hint of stray lint. My dresser always has random bits of paper, jewelry, and receipts spread across it. Magazine articles sit in piles on the floor. But my bed is always made at least. Always. I look on her floor and see I have left a trail of footprints in her carpet, impressions of my bare feet. They stick out like a weed in a Monet.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “Now you have to vacuum!”
It’s all right. She does every night, before bed, after she turns down and smooths the sheets.
Well, I’ll be thinking of her vacuuming tonight as I relax on my couch, toys strewn across a floor covered in hair and dust and probably some boogers, eating a crunchy snack that will leave crumbs that I will probably vacuum up sometime next week.