Our first disagreement as newlyweds was over cleaning the house. I grew up in a family where we thoroughly cleaned the house once a week. The husband grew up in a home with a more casual approach to housekeeping. He says it’s not true that as a bachelor he wrote his grocery list in the dust on his coffee table, but I saw what I saw.
Anyway, in our early years of bliss, he claimed that cleaning the house every week would wear out the furniture.
I said that wasn’t possible. He said there was no way to know for certain until I had over-cleaned and worn out all the furniture and then it would be too late.
He also said I could see microscopic particles of dust and dirt that were invisible to ordinary people. You’d think the man would be thrilled to know he hadn’t married ordinary.
In any case, we came to a compromise: I was free to clean the house as often as I wanted.
The truth is, I’ve always enjoyed cleaning because you see the fruits of your labour, furniture that shines, mirrors that sparkle, vacuum tracks on the carpeting.
New products used to motivate me. Furniture polish that smelled like fruit was like snacking while I dusted. Vacuums with long, telescopic hose attachments let me reach cobwebs in ceiling corners and made me feel like I had the arms of professional basketball players. But somehow the enjoyment has waned over the years.
Maybe it was doing the math that took the shine off. Multiplying the number of years we have been married by the number of weeks in a year, times the number of bathrooms in each home we’ve lived in was stunning. As a result, I’ve gradually fallen into the “good enough” camp.
I tell myself I’m not lazy – I’m conserving energy. Mine.
The spray bottles of cleaning products are not gone, but the thrill is.
I thought my vigour for clean had forever vanished like dust in the wind but then we borrowed a power washer from our son-in-law to clean our patio. It’s a motorised contraption with hoses and nozzles that pressurises the water so that it cleans dirt from concrete right before your eyes. We’ve been racing to see who gets to use it first. Believe me when I say that has never happened with the vacuum cleaner.
We’ve cleaned the patio, the driveway, the front porch and the sidewalk in front of the house. We can’t seem to quit power washing and the reason is because watching something come clean before your eyes is immediate gratification.
We finally agreed we were finished with the power washer and should return it to the son-in-law. But before the husband could load it into the car, I fired it up one more time and cleaned the garage floor.
‘Who power washes a garage floor?’ the husband asked.
‘You’re looking at her,’ I said.
It’s good to be back.
More from Lori Borgman: