But sometimes, I see the dustball, I'm perfectly aware of it, and I just keep walking and leave it where it is. [I know, try not to judge me too harshly...]
In fact, there are thin layers of dust on quite a few surfaces in our home, which we do dust every once in a while, but not on any sort of strict schedule. I believe the last time I dusted was about 5 months ago, and I believe I stopped after completing the main rooms of the house.
So, if you can't already tell, here's what I'm getting at: I'm not much for cleaning. Don't get me wrong--I'll straighten all day, we're on top of our laundry and our dishes, we de-clutter our surfaces on a regular basis--but deep cleaning, it ain't happenin' much in this house.
And I'm okay with this. A super clean house isn't a huge priority for me, and I'm all about realizing what adds value to your life/makes you feel content, and then putting most of your energy into those areas. If cleaning isn't something that adds great value for me personally, I'm fine with pushing it down on the list and doing it only when it becomes a necessity.
That being said, I can't help but get stressed when we have unexpected guests who see our house in "disarray." I get anxiety before having people over, and become a dictator, ordering Ben around and checking his progress as I make him spend an afternoon cleaning the house with me (which, let me tell you, isn't the greatest for our marriage).
And you know why I do this? Because deep down, some part of me feels that as a woman, I will be judged for the cleanliness of my house. Ben feels none of this pressure or judgment, but despite hating what it represents, I feel it in my core.
Perhaps it's because my mom was always deep cleaning and straightening, and although our house was quite clean (cleaner than mine will ever be, I fear!), she was always apologizing to guests for "her messy home." But I also believe that a big part of this pressure that I feel comes from the knowledge that traditionally, women were in charge of keeping the house clean. Even though I have chosen not to buy into this belief, sometimes I still feel the lingering effects of it's existence.
As a couple who lives in a home together, I think that Ben has just as much responsibility in keeping the house clean as I do, and I let him know this on a regular basis. The only problem here: he doesn't see the dustballs in the way that I do. He's so blissfully unaware that the house is mess that he could go much longer than I could. And deep down, he isn't judging himself for the discoloration of the bathroom tiles in the way that I am.
A few years ago, while living in DC, Ben and I decided to hire a cleaning company to deep clean our apartment once per month. It felt totally indulgent and I had a separate kind of guilt for bringing people in to clean while I sat on my computer and worked in the next room, but when we calculated the cost for cleaning and how long it would take us to do the same thing, we felt it was worth it financially to outsource this task. And it was pretty great.
Then, we moved so that Ben could pursue his dream job, our finances changed, and we decided that we needed to buck up. "Bucking up" turned into living among a few dustballs and cleaning periodically over the past 16 months, and everything was fine.
But now here we are--about to close on our very first home THIS Thursday (so excited!), and this subject has come up again for us. We want our first home to be something we're proud of, and we want it to be kept pretty clean.
Ben got back from walking our dog recently, and called me to say that he had come up with a great idea: "We'll make a chore list and divide up all of the chores that need to be done on a regular basis, and every Saturday, we'll each tackle our chores!"
Really, Ben? Your great idea is the oldest idea of ALL time, created for children so that they learn a sense of responsibility, and done in order to receive gold stars and allowances?
Sadly, this is what we've come to. In order to keep our new house clean--something that we both admit is climbing the ladder of importance, since we are going to actually own this place--we need a chore list. Do you think that we should use gold stars, just to honor the tradition?
When you own something, it becomes yours. You priorities often shift, and hopefully, you learn how to take care of that thing a little better than you would otherwise. I don't think that buying a place will necessarily change all of our cleaning habits, but I do hope that it causes each of us to see cleaning in a slightly different light.
So, as I think about moving into our new home, which we will do leisurely over the next month or so (we're going to paint it ourselves before moving in!), I know that I do want to make a shift to keep the place cleaner.
But I also know that I want to let go of my deep-seated issues involving cleanliness and self-worth as a woman.
And perhaps I want to think about hiring a cleaning company again--just every once in a while (tight budget or not!)--so that I can rely on the professionals to help keep my chore list to a minimum, and my quality of work + life to a maximum ;)
What do you think? Do you, too, struggle with mixed feelings around what it means to have a clean house? I hope I'm not the only one...