My mother taught me how to clean a house from an early age. I remember learning the proper method for dusting the furniture when I was about five. By the time I was eight I had advanced to cleaning blinds and baseboards. By ten I had become expert in the skill of making a toilet shine like it was brand new. I also did the dishes by hand three to four times a week and kept my bedroom in tidy order along with helping to wash and dry and fold the laundry.
Back then most things were done the old fashioned way. We did not have a dishwasher nor did we always use the dryer. Quite often we let Mother Nature take care of that job aided by a clothesline in the backyard. Our chores were as well enforced by our mother as if we had been in the military and she was a strict inspector. This was especially true when it came to the toilet.
I never felt that I had the hardest jobs in the family because my brothers were tasked with cutting the grass from spring until the first freeze. The implement for doing this was a push mower whose power came from their own energy and muscle. It would take them hours in the scorching Texas heat to get the job done in a yard that had a bit of an elevated slope. Somehow I knew that I never wanted to have to take on that task, so I did not complain about the one’s I had.
I’ve never had a maid to help me with housework. Somehow I have just followed my childhood routine of cleaning every Saturday morning right up to this very day. I did not occur to me to hire someone to take on those duties because they have always been second nature to me. I even did the yard work at our home for many years when I was a young wife because my mother-in-law had warned me that my husband was very allergic to grass and pollens in the outdoors and might get very sick if I asked him to do those things.
It was quite some time before I realized that my man never got sick when we went camping outdoors and I wondered if he had outgrown his hay fever. I put him to work on the lawn and he did just fine. It was a relief not to have to take care of that weekly problem anymore. Our shared duties worked well until one day the lawn mower broke down and I suggested that we hire someone to do the work until we decided what kind of machine to purchase. The yard men did such a remarkable job for a great price that we never again cut even a single blade of grass. To this day those men are two of my favorite people on planet earth as they faithfully arrive each Saturday to keep our landscape look magnificent.
I have been doing what I call heavy duty cleaning for the last few weeks. I wash the blinds at least twice a year, sometimes quarterly when my life is going smoothly. I really do understand the phrase, “I don’t do windows or blinds” because it is a time consuming and boring task that few people ever really notice. The act of running a wet cloth over each slat is so mind numbing that I attempted to pull a Tom Sawyer and convince my husband that he might enjoy joining me for the ritual. Sadly, he did not take the bait and worked on a few outside repairs instead. So I dream of finding someone with the work ethic of my yard guys who would be willing to come do my blinds without charging me an arm and a leg.
My husband grew up in a different world from mine. Both his mother and his grandmother always had maids. I remember thinking that I had never heard of such a thing when I first met him. Seeing the plenty of his refrigerator was another shock, followed by the realization that he was free to consume anything he found inside whenever her wished.
We definitely had to adjust to our differing lifestyles. Luckily my skills came in quite handy because we were both students for the first few years and lived on an income that almost qualified us for government help. I knew exactly how to make the money stretch like a strong rubber band. I also was a whiz at cooking, cleaning and repairing things. He caught on quite well and we’ve been a team ever since.
Over the years I’ve improved my equipment. I have a robotic vacuum cleaner that keeps my floors spotless. It’s programmed to make a pass in different rooms of the house five days a week. We give the poor fellow two days off on the weekend. I’ve got a fabulous washer and dryer that are actually inside the house instead of being in the garage like those things mostly were back when I was growing up. I have a dishwasher that is so quiet I have to look for a red light to determine if it is actually working. I get all the ice I want from my refrigerator. I never take such luxuries for granted.
I suppose that I really appreciate such things because I spent much of my life without them. My daughters always laugh and say that if things get really bad with climate change I will be able to show them how to do things the old fashioned ways. I suppose that I should train them like my mother did. She was rather amazing in her knowledge of running a household and I took my cues from her.
Anyway, it’s time to quit using writing as an excuse and get back to working on the next set of blinds. They aren’t going to get clean by themselves. As far as I know there is not yet a machine that I might set loose on them. If someone would like to invent it, I can almost guarantee that I will purchase it. It’s the one task that I still detest. I do blinds, but I don’t like it!