Family Visit Anxiety

Are the carpets clean enough?  Does that candle smell fresh enough?  Why is the kitchen dirty again? I swear I just cleaned it.  Is that table sticky?  I just washed it.  I need to wash the countertops, and the cabinets, and the floor, and I never noticed the splashes of sauce in the microwave.  Should I clean out the fridge?  What are the chances she’ll go into the fridge?  Fairly large, I’d say.  I’d better at least wipe it down.
And I haven’t even started on the upstairs.

My husband’s mother is visiting us for a week.  She’s here now, and all those cleaning questions I had yesterday have almost vanished.  Luckily for me, the babies are a good distraction from the mess.  Of course, I have just now learned that floor-crackers will be unacceptable foodstuffs for this week-long stay.  That’s a lot of food wasted, but maybe it’s for the best.  Maybe the babies are old enough to learn not to knock, spill or pour their food on the floor at every given opportunity.

She’s been gracious enough not to comment on my housekeeping, which is lacking at best.  She’s been able to sit on my (freshly washed) couches, and crawl around on the (freshly vaccuumed) floor.  But, in this house, even freshly washed couches and freshly vaccuumed carpets leave much to be desired.  This place needs a deep clean.  And we’ve only been here six months.  Two babies make a lot of mess.  Two babies are basically made of mess.

And even in my frantic tidying (because I can’t honestly call it cleaning) yesterday, I see now so much that I missed.  I have what people call “counter blindness.”  I’m stuck in this 15-year-old state of mind when it comes to cleaning.  I simply don’t see the mess.  The bowl of old cheerios that’s been sitting on the counter for three weeks?  Part of the decor.  The baby smudges that have streaked the windows since July and are only getting worse?  Well, I could have sworn the windows came that way.  I will literally be cleaning a room and walk over a big pile of toys in the center of that room.  Clearly, they don’t need to be cleaned up.  A pile in the middle of the room must be where they belong.  Simply put, if it’s been there long enough, my mind assumes that’s where it belongs.  I can’t clean all the things if I can’t see them.

A perfect example of this?  I have never, in the 27 months my children have been alive, thought to make their beds.  When I walked into their room this morning after breakfast, I was greeted by this scene:

Other things will change, too, this visit.  I see that we will be cleaning the toys up when the babies go down for their nap.  We will be tidying the kitchen right after we eat, instead of three hours later.  We will find other areas of the house that perhaps should not be ignored in our puttering frenzy.  These are not bad things.  I could stand to learn them.

I realize as I write this (as my mother in law is sweeping my porch) that perhaps my anxiety was unfounded.  This visit will mean an uptick in cleaning for me because I clearly cannot sit idly by while my husband’s mom tidies up, but I am not opposed to this.  Perhaps, if I’m lucky, it will become habit, and she will leave me better able to live a clutter-free life.

At the very least, this week, my house will be clean.

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About parentwin

Parent of twins, blogger, writer and journalist. I write things. Sometimes people even read them.
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