I do not like house cleaning. I also do not like living in squalor. This presents an internal conflict of interests that at times I find demoralizing and tear-provoking. It often feels like there is no end to the drudgery, and this sense of hopelessness plagues me on a daily basis.
Vacuuming with my 20-year-old Kenmore has always been a particularly frustrating endeavor. I actually had to end my long-term relationship with Ken recently. Things had become so volatile between us that in a final burst of rage, I threw Ken down a flight of stairs. As I stood there at the top of the stairs, heaving, looking down at poor, broken and duct-taped Ken, I knew it was over. I was my vacuum cleaner's abuser and I was ashamed.
In my defense, he had gotten sloppy with his appearance over the years and his performance was not what it once was. He had been losing parts, it was becoming increasingly difficult to find his brand of vacuum cleaner bags, and I had to kick him to rev up his engine. By the end, he was held together only by duct tape, and I had to reuse the same bag several times before it inevitably would burst in my face.
Ken's very existence was producing more debris than he could suck up. I have since replaced Ken with a shiny new Dyson. Dys is handsome and doesn't need any special attention, extra work, or coaxing to get him up and going. Best of all, his good looks are not marred by wads of duct tape and mismatched, fading parts.
Dirt, Grime, Scum and Dust
Dirt, grime, scum and dust are my daily tormentors. They are incredibly adept at strategically invading with stealth and surprise when my back is turned. As I combat grime from a wall, scum overpowers a windowsill. When I abandon the wall to deal with the window, dirt is immediately deployed to the floor. Dust rockets through the air, hitting surface targets all over the house.
I try to fight back, but it is a losing battle. When I call for a ceasefire at the end of a long day of heavy artillery, aerial attacks and defeat, I warn my enemies that I have a secret weapon. I have bleach, and if they don't grant me a reprieve over night, then I will conquer them with a barrage of chemical warfare in the morning.
It turns out that filth, in all its many forms, is not bothered by idle bleach threats.
The next day there they all are, stronger than ever and ready for their next physical assault. This is when me, my defective sponges, and useless bucket of murky, lukewarm, dissolving suds, plop down on the top stair in utter surrender. This also is exactly when, just to add insult to injury, I knock over the very bottle of bleach I was going to use on the walls. It cascades like a waterfall down my chocolate-brown, plush carpeted stairs, leaving a trail of destruction as it falls.
I was traumatized by the dishwashing experiences I endured while growing up. My younger brother and I were in charge of doing the dishes every night after dinner. Our mother was a stay-at-home mom who refused to do any of the dishes herself. It wasn't that she was lazy; she just thought that giving us this chore would somehow turn us into responsible adults with a strong work ethic. I still have not figured out how being kitchen slave-children would turn us into respectable citizens.
Because the dishes were allowed to pile up throughout the day, by the time dinner was done, there would always be this formidable, towering mountain of stainless steel, Tupperware, porcelain, stoneware, cast iron and glass. In addition to the religious belief that my brother and I should do nightly penance at the kitchen sink, our parents were suspicious of dishwashers. They did not believe in them.
Consequently, each night we would toil away at the day's accumulated dishes, which often took up the entire counter. It would literally take hours, and the situation would quickly deteriorate into verbal arguing, complete communication breakdown, physical pain, and finally the very real threat of the wooden spoon.
Today, as an adult with my own home and children, you'd think I would blossom in the freedom of my dishwashing emancipation. I'm sorry, and not just a little confused, to report that this is not the case.
In some twisted housewife's version of the Stockholm syndrome, I find myself at the end of each day standing at a sink full of dishes. The children are in bed and the husband is "resting". I still do not have a dishwashing machine. I cry as I stand there washing all those dishes, invariably cutting my fingers on broken glass and soaking my clothes with dirty dishwater.
In addition to all of the above, scrubbing, cleansing and dusting with toxic substances adds to my internal conflict and house cleaning despair tenfold. A cancer may be secretly growing somewhere in my body, but at least my home is clean and smells nice.
Really, though, the most frustrating part about house cleaning is that after I have splattered my clothes with bleach, matted my hair with filth, blinded my sight with shrapnel from exploding vacuum cleaner bags, and inhaled carcinogenic fumes, I get to do it all over again.
House cleaning is a revolving Ferris wheel that only stops long enough to let more dirt on, but never long enough for me to get off.