Many things my mom taught me are “after-thoughts” in my life. Something I now robotically do, without recalling why I do it so. I would like to preface this, though, that my mom was not a typical “housewife.” Or at least what you would envision one to be from the 50’s. She didn’t endlessly clean up after us, or spend countless hours slaving in a dirty house or over a hot stove. She simply enjoyed a clean house and expected us to as well, and she cooked out of love to nourish and, often times, heal us.
My cousin Mikey, who told me of his lesson he learned from her, reminded me of some of my mom’s best advice! It wasn’t that she cleaned the house constantly, it was that she trained US to clean, and when we would, she would shake her head sympathetically… “I don’t know where you learned to clean, because it wasn’t from me. THIS is the right way to do it.” After a brief demonstration, we would be back on cleaning duty, often doing so making full eye contact with her to follow her reaction in case we did it incorrectly again. I love this about her.
I, of all of us, probably more than my sisters, was a ball of filth for most of my childhood. Maybe even young adulthood. Somehow I did not pick up on her cleanliness and happily danced around her perfectly content in a disaster. She still tried to train me many times, and yet there I would be: smiling at her while a small tornado of dirt left piles of clothes in my path. She would look at me, bewildered, as to how one of her offspring could simply not mind a mess. I’m sure when I would walk away she would face palm and wonder how I would ever survive on my own.
As Mikey recounted, she had such a particular way of doing things. She had things down to a science and moved so swiftly and efficiently. When I would dust the house she would inspect almost immediately after, “You didn’t move the figurines! How can you call this dusting if you only dust around things?!” I’d shrug. It seemed completely reasonable that if things LOOKED dusted, they would be clean enough. I’d hang my head in defeat and start over.
Recently, after buying the new house, I was walking around thinking “My goodness! How do things get SO dirty in such a short amount of time?” I began moving picture frames around and dusting. I moved the couch to sweep under it. It hit me. I have learned the proper way to clean and actually enjoy it. I won’t go crazy and say I’m as clean as my mom… or that I enjoy ALL cleaning, but thankfully some of her more practical lessons stuck with me as well.
At the very basis of her advice to properly vacuum, dust or what have you, is that when she would do something, she would do it the best. If she couldn’t do it the best, she would make sure someone could. Because if you aren’t going to give 100% of yourself, and do your best, and be happy with the finished product… why are you doing it?