The house was clean on Thursday (Part 2)

Tidying up when you have children is like shovelling snow while it’s still snowing.

 So. Years went by. We acquired some more animals (enough to fill another chapter). We kept trying to regain control of the chaos. We never managed. I always said, only half joking, “One day someone will break in and trash this place and we’ll never even notice.” And so it happened. If it wasn’t for the missing camera we may never have known.

Eventually the PCG and I went our separate ways. He still generates chaos by bringing and taking away random items from my house. I would get home and find a bicycle in my living room. Or a gardener working in my garden. Or my toaster or TV missing. I have stopped asking questions. I try to just carry on. Making a scene is too draining and I don’t have that much energy as it is. I know a lot of people would not allow this sort of “freedom.” I guess I hate conflict more than I hate the unpredictability of this arrangement.

So, if someone should ask, “Do you have a ladder/garden shears/lawnmower/wood glue/frying pan?” – the answer is, “Sometimes.” I can just never know. But we can go and look…

Now, I realise I can’t blame the PCG for the current chaos. I blame his children and their pets, and the fact that they obviously inherited his chaos generating and hoarding genes. As opposed to my “throw-it-out” genes. And I blame my parents: naturally, everything is their fault, they gave me a much too happy childhood… I blame mostly myself. It’s clear that I’m in way over my head. I am totally capable of keeping a house beautifully clean and tidy – but only for myself. It seems obvious that I’m failing miserably in the whole keeping-house-for-a-family thing. The only way out of this is the empty nest. It’s going to be a few more years. Ten, at least.

We did try a cleaning service for a while. It sounded great when other people described their experiences: the team uses their own machines and products, they’re only there for an hour, and you don’t need to worry about your worker helping herself to a glass of wine at 10 am, like my friend Mel had to deal with. So we gave it a go.

A neatly uniformed team knocked at the door, I stood back to let them in, and the house was instantly transformed…

It was transformed into a frightening place of bustling activity. There were so many of them! In every room! Attacking every corner! There were buckets and brooms and vacuum cleaners and mops everywhere. The worst part: there was no-where to hide. We cowered on the back porch looking dazed and lost.

They swept through the house like a reverse tsunami, leaving order and cleanliness in their wake. It was awesome. But awesome sooned felt like awful. And awkward.

I overheard a frantic phonecall to the mothership: “Mevrou, you have to come quick, we need more people. We’re never going to finish in time! And this house doesn’t even have a feather duster!”

Yes. I’m afraid it’s true, this house doesn’t have a feather duster. This house has managed to get away with a broom, a vacuum cleaner and a damp cloth our only weapons of mass cleaning. And besides, weren’t they supposed to bring their own??

So Mevrou rushed back with another seven people and a feather duster. I wanted to cry. I wanted to explain about the PCG’s legacy, my children’s bad genes, my failures as a mother, the allergic dog, and the fact that I am so busy trying to earn enough money to support this lot, that I had no energy or time left to clean the house. But I was too scared of this fouteen-headed cleaning monster that was busy devouring my house. I remained on the stoep, feeling very small indeed.

At long last, it was over. The kids and I looked at each other, opened the back door carefully and ventured a few steps in. They were gone. All was quiet.

And CLEAN! The floors shone as much as an old, scuffed wooden floor can shine. The kitchen sparkled as much as a 60 year old kitchen can sparkle. Even the end of the toilet paper was folded into a sweet little triangle, like at a hotel. I breathed out, relieved. This might just work. We can handle this total invasion once every two weeks (which was all I could afford).

And we did, for many months, maybe even a year. But it was painful every single time. I began dreading their visits and if they asked me, “Is there anything else we can do?” I would just say, “No, thank you!” and hurry them out the door. And the saddest part was, there is no way that the effect of a blitz like this can last 14 days. Within two days, we’re back to square one. So eventually, we gave up.

As I’m sitting here, practicing my favourite displacement activity, there are two little girls playing Barbies in the living room. They have built a shop – more like a mall, really. They are happy as Larry, they don’t need me at all. They have spread out across the entire area. The friend is sleeping over, and I just know, this game will continue tomorrow (it’s school holiday after all). I’ll find somewhere else to sit.

Today I was going to start painting the corridor walls, which have been waiting for a fresh coat for at least 10 years, but hey, I can’t find any of my painting tools! I know where they are. I don’t know why they left or when they are coming back. I guess the walls can wait few more days.

And so, another day has passed without much progress. I did vacuum the house, but within half an hour, the floors had recovered their comfortable layer of grit and dog hair and a little bit of mud. Shovelling snow.

It’s time to think about supper now. So I guess I’ll start on the next chapter right away.

PS: Big achievement: I sorted out the awful kitchen cupboard today – the one which contains everything from shoe polish to shopping bags. I’m sure everyone has a cupboard like that. At least, I hope so, otherwise I may need therapy… or a professional organiser. Next birthday, that’s what I’d like. A professional organiser. Make a note, people.

Erica Neser (c) 2011™


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. meladjusted
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 11:27:42

    Remember that awesome Maria woman that never came back – I do, in fact the day that she was there for me will always be – Maria Day. It’s the new every second Friday 😀


  2. Christa B-R
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 11:01:01

    Erica, ek sien elke dag uit na nog ramblings!


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