You’ve seen the memes. “The NeverEnding Story as a kid: a kid’s movie. The never ending story as an adult: THE LAUNDRY PILE.”
The meme is successful because it’s true.
Being “done” with laundry, or dishes, or mopping, is a short-lived victory. As soon as you finish cleaning the kitchen you realize the dirty washcloth and hand towel need to go in the laundry. No sooner do you mop the floor than a cup of juice gets spilled, a muddy dog walks through, or a trash bag leaks.
It’s a continuous cycle. “Done” is elusive.
Early this morning, just before waking, I had a bad dream bordering on Nightmare. I woke up jittery, edgy, and anxious.
This morning. . . I dreamed about. . . HOUSEWORK. (Duh duh duhhhh.)
I mean, it wasn’t just that I was dreaming about doing it, it was more than that. I dreamed that someone I know in real life was at my house–with it as clean as it is right now, with all the tons of work we have done in the past week–fussing at my kids and making them clean and clean. Finally, I grew so frustrated with this person that I lost it and said, “Enough is enough! It’s 11pm, they’re done.”
But that wasn’t the end of it, the frustration only escalated from there. The Bossy Houseguest retaliated saying, “No! They can stop when they’re done, when the whole house is clean.” I bellowed back, “That’s ridiculous! It doesn’t have to be done all at once, I say they’re done!” And when The Bossy Houseguest began to huff and puff, I said, “I want the house 100% completely clean and done, too, I do!”
And then, as bizarre dreams are prone to do, The Bossy Houseguest suddenly switched teams and announced, “It’s never ‘done’… that’s an unreachable goal.”
. . . I was speechless.
It’s never done.
That’s an unreachable goal.
I woke up at that point, heart pumping, frustration still racing through my veins, confused. But after my brain had a chance to really wake up I replayed it all over again and sat speechless again.
The cleanliness of the house is a constant struggle. I would be a happy camper if our house always looked like a magazine, but it never does–not even close. I am rarely satisfied with the amount of work and the quality of work that gets done around our house. I am often frustrated by finding more to do in a recently cleaned space.
I am, regularly, dissatisfied. I am, continually, searching for the elusive “done.” To be all caught up on laundry, and dishes, and cleaning, and mopping, and all of it, all at the same time.
I AM THE BOSSY HOUSEGUEST.
Here are some things I know to be true.
- My house really can and should be cleaner on a more regular basis. Truthfully, it needs it.
- My kids DO need to learn to mop better, among other things. And I need to help them.
- We ALL need to learn the habit of putting things away as soon as we are done with them, or cleaning up as soon as we are finished with a task. Myself included.
After pondering this dream, I’ve come to accept these additional truths.
- It IS possible to complete certain tasks, areas, and projects, but while there are four of us home during the day all day, it is unlikely they will ALL be “done” at the same time.
- My house doesn’t NEED to look like a magazine.
- I shouldn’t put pressure on myself, or my kids, to try to keep a perfect home.
In the past I have joked about the impossible task of having the whole house clean all at once, and yet, I have still attempted to achieve it. And this morning’s dream, I think, was my brain sorting through some of that never-ending Cleaning Angst.
And while I’m not giving up on training my kids to increase the quality of their cleaning abilities a little bit, and I’m not resigning myself to have a perpetually messy house, I am giving myself permission to lower my expectations a little. If I’m striving for something so far above our grasp that we will continually miss the mark, I’m setting us all for constant disappointment and frustration.
I DON’T WANT TO BE THE BOSSY HOUSEGUEST.
I want to be The Voice of Reason in the Never-Ending Story of Housework. . .