Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Clean Act

I am desparately looking for a cleaner that will actually take the grime off pieces to the stove burners. I sift through my evironmentally-friendly overly-priced child-safe cleaners. They smell wonderful...look trendy...and do not put a dent in whatever is stuck to the burner plate I am now scrubbing away at with intensity. I have broken down and made a paste out of baking soda and water as I work away at it. My husband looks at me funny...but I am determined. My in-laws are visiting for the weekend, and the last couple of times they came to visit, I have walked in to find the stove torn apart and cleaned by my mother-in-law. I'm starting to worry that she thinks I don't know how to clean. I do remember...I was taught the basics long ago. I was even a touch on the obsessive side at one point. However, years of children (and husbands) going behind me and undoing all my efforts have forced me to all but give up on my cleaning efforts. I cringe as I look at the floor that desparately needs to be mopped. I wonder if she'll notice.

My husband, the helpful man that he is...wants to aid me in my efforts to make it look as though I do, in fact, clean. So he enlists the help of the older children. Jay is instructed to clean the toilet. I am not sure which is more humorous...the look on the child's face at the prospect of touching a toilet...or my husband's explanation on how to properly clean it.

"Honey...where are the cleaners?? Do we have antibacterial stuff? I need something antibacterial. Where's the Windex stuff?"

I hear him tell Jay to spray something "antibacterial" in the toilet and let it sit. Jay begins to complain.

"Somebody didn't flush!! It must have been Marissa....but Daaa-aad....she used a ton of toilet paper! The crap in there is like this big!" He is indicating the size of excrement with his hands.

"So? Flush it, then!!"

Jay mumbles something about him not even being the one to make the mess and how unfair life is.

I am still scrubbing in vain. I finally give up, and figure, oh mother-in-law will do it properly when she gets here. Along with cleaning the counters and possibly even throwing in a load of laundry. I sigh. If she found it clean here, she'd probably wonder what was wrong, anyway.

Suddenly, I hear my toddler crying. My husband is irritated because she tried to dump her own pee from her little potty to the big toilet. I hear the toilet flush, and my toddler cry out in pain. The next thing I know, I have a naked toddler tugging on my shirt, babbling incoherently about Daddy flushing her pee.

I hear Jay state in disgust that Marissa could make it into Ripley's Believe It or Not because she somehow managed to get poop on the lid of the toilet.

Only in this house would you simutaneously have one child upset about having to flush another person's mess, one child upset about not being allowed to flush a toilet, and a third child who never seems to flush at all.

I try to calm my middle child and explain that she is allowed to flush, but either her father or I have to do the dumping. It's too late...the tears are streaming down, and she wails uncontrollably, unable to hear my explanation. I guide her out to get a new Pull-Up on.

She finally calms down, and Bruce tells her she can go flush the toilet if she wants...he had just thrown some tissue in it.

"Okay!" She runs to the bathroom....only to come out, upset again.

"I can't! The toilet is dirty!!!"

Oh brother.

Bruce vacuums, and my coffee is now cold. The kitchen, however, is clean...for the most part. I ask Bruce when his parents were stopping by, because I thought I heard him on the phone with them.

He smiles.

"They're not. They went to my brother's house today."

I look at the clean living room...the twins, wearing actual outfits instead of their stained sleepers, and the shiny stove. That figures. The next time they visit there will be dried spaghetti sauce on the stove, toys littering the living room, and dirty dishes filling the sink. I know this because this is always what seems to happen. I just hope that maybe...maybe when my mother-in-law's kids were growing up, the stove might have been dirty...and there might have been dirty socks under the couch. Perhaps oatmeal streaked the table now and then...and she tripped over legos. And hopefully her mother-in-law came to visit...and gave her a big hug because she, too, understood....and knew that deep down, she wasn't really a slob...just a tired mom.

Well, I can dream, right?


  1. That is funny that you mention tripping over legos...have you seen the lego bucket we had as kids!? Ask my mom about us riding things down the stairs...Kevyn stealing a little girls shoes...Oh just look at Kevyn and say "Ninjas jumped out of the trees and stole them"

  2. To my favorite daughter-in-law, oh only daughter-in-law (at least at this time), your mother-in-law misses having kids making messes (guess I don't make as much of one as I thought). A sane house is better than a clean house and your house is SANE. I've seen worse with our four kids, you've got SIX (yes six....big kid/husband). You're doing great with everything you've got going. By the way thanks for bring all the kids over to my mothers Saturday, with them and Kevyn's two, it was funny listening to my mom and your mother-in-law talk after everyone left (especially after they babysit while you two ran to the store ... you did go to the store right ? .... didn't just go to have some "ALONE" time together! Love you all.

  3. OH MO! My mom was always a clean freak, all I remember as a kid was cleaning the house. I realized when I got older that's all we really did with her. She never sat and watched a TV show with us, or read to us, or just played ball with us. She started too with my brothers but by then I was out of the house. I don't want my kids remembering that. So now my living room gets picked up/vacuumed every other day or so, the kitchen is a mess and the laundry is never "done" but I sit with my kids, talk with them, just making memories that way. I love my mom but I wish she had taken more time off from cleaning to just "hang out". She knows how I feel about it now too.

  4. Thanks, I'm not doing too bad, then? I promise my house isn't too dirty. It hasn't become a health hazard yet, anyway. ;)

    To my favorite father-in-law...I love you guys, too. :) Thanks! And, believe it or not...we actually did go to the store...although we probably took longer than was really necessary, hee hee. Thank goodness for grandparents!

  5. GOTCHA!!!! You guys are soo funny!! You don't have to clean your house for me. I just like to help out when I come over. You are too busy. I hope I don't offend you. Just throw everything you can in the dishwasher!!!!

  6. don't offend me, I just hope you don't think I'm a complete slob! I just feel embarrassed that as luck would have it, it seems like my house is at it's worst every time you guys come over...I'm beginning to worry that you think I don't know how to clean...:) Which I just seems that those skills have gathered as much dust as the entertainment center in the living room. Wait...I take that back...Irelynn wipes that down with baby wipes everyday...

    I GET TO DEFEND MYSELF! Ninjas attacked me man c'mon!?! Gimme a break, i was just a little lad, those ninjas were HUGE! LoL

    One year at christmas Bruce, Candace and I slept in the same room. When we all woke up I had to go to the bathroom so bad, i was told to pee out the window of the 2nd floor! Ooops
    Ah, yea i remember riding those blue mattresses down the stairs all the time. How about Brandon and I trying to parachute off the top of our bunk beds? lol Or my famous ice cream dance on Mom and Dads new carpet that you guys made me cry histaricly over!!!

    Hey Mo wait till they get the nerve to try and skip school.. haha Ask mom about, uh i believe it was Brandon, skipping school in like 3rd grade and hid in the woods behind the house all day!