I really don’t feel all that dirty. I just don’t. I can’t say my living room is showroom-spectacular, but it will do. By the standards set forth by Heloise, Amy Vanderbilt, and my mother, though, I feel secure in saying I am Webster’s definition of “filthy”. Now, by the standards set forth by working and mothering and a general desire to breathe on occasion, I would say that I am exceptionally tidy. Either way one chooses to look at it, my lack of desire to put away, pick up, fold, and dust in a timely manner will not kill anyone. And, in the end, isn’t that all that really matters?
Over the years, I have given a lot of thought to the reasons I don’t skip joyfully to the dust rag and furniture polish for some good, old-fashioned book-moving, knick-knack-scooting, and sneeze-inducing fun. I have thought and thought and thought. I have concluded, after much deliberation, that I really just hate it. A lot. I should want to not see imprints of my picture frames in a thin layer of dust atop my end table. I should want to not see that fine white film on the top of my refrigerator as I peek, on tiptoe, just to see if it’s still there. Additionally, I should want to not see a miniscule cloud of fluff arise from my nightstand when I lay a book beside my half-empty water bottle (another entire essay on the way plastic bottles seem to sprout from my furniture).
I don’t want to see any of these things, of course. For the record, my mother did not joyfully take care of the dusting with pep in her step either, but she did it and did it faithfully. I do it. I do it begrudgingly, though. I think I may whine a little, and I am sure that I mutter immaturely within earshot of my children. The fact remains that the dust isn’t hurting us. If anything, it just hurts my feelings. I want to want to do it as often as Heloise thinks I should. It sort of stings my pride to see a soccer trophy not looking pristine. I would love (well, love may be a stretch) to dust as often as my mother did and still does. Just when I begin to talk myself into making a regular dusting schedule, I begin to reason things through. Reason says the dust isn’t going anywhere. Sitting for a minute and checking my email is important. Feeding the cat is important. Baking the boy and the girl some chocolate chip cookies is super-important. I listen to Reason. Reason is so great. Don’t you just love Reason?
Folding laundry is another task that I should not abhor. Yes, I said that I abhor it. I love that word, and it fits my emotion for folding socks, underwear, and the various and sundry drawer-dwelling articles so succinctly. I can tell you as surely as I am sitting here typing with a basket of towels and washrags three feet from my left elbow that I never once saw my mother let the clean laundry pile up in our home. This alone is enough to make me go all Hush Puppy sad-eyes. It’s shameful, I tell you. In the 19 years I lived in my childhood home, my mother never allowed her clean laundry to overtake her bedroom and virtually become a living and breathing mountain of terry cloth and denim on the verge of avalanching toward the floor and pinning her against the nearest wall. Straight from the clothesline or dryer to her own one-woman assembly line of folding, stacking, and putting away the laundry would go.
Maybe, just maybe, that is why I can’t conquer the Mt. Terrycloth. My mother was so good, we never saw the process. Hmmm. Nah. I can’t blame her. I don’t fold the laundry because it is so stinkin’ easy to just grab it from the pile. Sadly, I think I have the same logic here that my children use when they fail to put away a partial can of Pringles. We are going to need this stuff again really soon, right? Why go to all that trouble? They are going to need those Pringles in a few minutes. I am saving myself the same amount of trouble. I will need that bath towel in a bit. I might as well have a fresh one as one that has been neatly folded for days in the closet with its cohorts. Who needs that? Not me. Dang, my kids are smart.
My overall organized-to-look-disorganized decorating scheme is really working out well for me. My children are taking instruction nicely. I feel the need by this point in my writing to clarify that we are not hoarders. We have stuff and things but we do not live under, inside, or behind any of our stuff nor our things. We just enjoy comfort. It was always nice to peel back the covers of my carefully-made bed when I was a kid. But, Heavens, it is even nicer at the age of 41 to just fall into bed without having to remove the decorative pillows from their designated places at the head of the bed. None of our throws on the couch get folded. We are all still breathing and have heartbeats. I’ve checked. The dishes that are nice and clean don’t always get stacked immediately in the cupboards. But, hey, Pringles logic? Am I right? Comfort is everything single thing it is cracked up to be.
Assuredly, Heloise would go permanently duck-lipped from pursing her mouth in disgust at the way I don’t immediately open my mail or put away a package of water bottles. (There are those water bottles again.) She would, without any doubt, be concerned about the odd sock or two that might need to be removed from the couch cushion before a guest could be comfortably seated. Who knows? The way socks disappear in houses like mine across America, that sock could be the mate to one of my guest’s own lonely socks. None of us really know where the wayward socks wind up. (Whitney didn’t know where broken hearts go. How the heck are we supposed to know where missing socks go?) My guests...they also survive. There may even be an offensive three-roll package of paper towels sitting beside the actual paper towel holder on my kitchen counter. It’s going to be fine. I will get to it. Still breathing. Still have a pulse, y’all.
I can say that I plan to shape up. I would probably be saying it while plopping another load of clothes onto the foot of my bed. I can say that I really must start drying and putting away all of the dishes immediately. It’s highly likely I would be saying it as I walked past the now-clean baking dish that, moments ago, held a fantastically-scrumptious lasagna and is drying upside down on a mat that I did go to the trouble to purchase to match my kitchen colors and for the express purpose of NOT putting dishes immediately back into my cabinet. I can even say that I will begin a strict regime of dusting once a week and on an as-needed basis. I tell the best jokes. I almost couldn’t finish typing that one. The truth is, I am going to do a quick assessment on the children. Fed? Yes. Happy with what they ate? Oh, yes. Comfortably seated? Sure they are. Clean? Yep. See? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I promise you that my dust bunnies and I have yet to commit a felony.