We have a house cleaner…

We have a house cleaner who comes every two weeks, which is a tremendous luxury but also saves our relationship. If we could afford it, I'd have her come weekly, but every two weeks is just often enough to stay reasonably sanitary around here. Wendy arrives at 7:30 on a Monday morning, which means during the school year, I tend to wake up at 5:30, get showered and dressed and packed for work, ditto the kids, send them off to school, and then frantically run around for an hour or a bit longer (moving room by room just ahead of her) picking up as much as I can of the whole house so that she can actually see and clean the floors, etc.

One of the great pleasures of this summer, the first summer I'm not teaching, is that I've actually managed to stay on top of the picking up, pretty much -- there's just the kids' playroom to do this morning, which should take about twenty minutes (a bit longer if I make them 'help') and I have plenty of time to drink a cup or two of tea first and chat with you guys. It feels very civilized.

I remember once a realtor came into our condo when we were thinking of putting it on the market and I apologized for the mess and he said, "Oh, don't worry. Most people don't live clean." That phrase, 'live clean' has haunted me ever since. When I lived alone, I lived clean. A dish or two in the sink, perhaps, and that was it. I wouldn't want to go back to living alone (most days), but I do miss that aspect. I know when the semester starts (in three weeks!) and time grows short again, chaos will descend once more, and there will be bigger priorities than picking up every room as we go. But it was nice, for a little while this summer, to live clean.

Hopefully, as the kids get bigger, we can keep working on that with them, and maybe I can inculcate them in my obsessively tidy ways. Kevin is good with the bigger household chores, but he just doesn't care about tidy the way I do. A pile of toys on the floor, papers scattered across the table, too many stacks of books do not disturb him. It's all in how you define 'too many,' I suppose. I'm not allowed to clean his office, but he keeps the door closed. Works for me. Well, mostly.

The other day, after we'd picked up the front room together, Anand wanted to take out his birdies and bricks and play, and I said fine, and I went to the living rom to do e-mail. Maybe fifteen minutes later, he ran up to me, very excited, and said he had something to show me. He dragged me to the front room and said, "Look how clean it is!" He had picked up all of his toys when he was done playing. I gave him kisses and chocolate.

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