I would not win any awards for my housekeeping skills. Quite frankly, it would sadden me if I learned that awards were actually given out for such a thing. I am not a slob, but I value hanging with my kids, reading, gardening, and fresh air over a clean floor. I don’t think my less-than-perfect domestic skills are a character flaw. We live in our house for a few days at a stretch, and then I hit a wall and we straighten things up and “pretend that we aren’t messy,” as my daughter likes to say. No one would eat off of our floor, but that’s why we have tables.
So while I may not get the award for cleanest floors, I did set a record for numbers of failed attempts at getting the floor perfectly clean. My ex was incredibly patient with me when it came to training me how to properly clean hardwood floors. We would have lengthy discussions (lectures) on technique, cleansers and tools. I’m sure he was thinking that even a trained monkey could do a better job than I; and if he could create a tool that even a monkey could operate, surely I would be able to get the job done.
That was our routine. I would get out of bed in the morning, he would head off to work, and I would begin the task of implementing both the instructions and the proper tools for making his hardwoods beautiful. I say “his” because in all the time I lived there, it always felt like it was his house. It got to the point where I would get this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach about 15 minutes before he was due home. I knew that I had failed, once again, and that I would have to endure another lecture.
He never raised his voice. He didn’t even look at me crossly or give me some sort of resigned sigh that would indicate the hopelessness of my attempts. He would talk to me like your second grade teacher talked to you when you just couldn’t get your a’s to look like an a with the proper curve of the ending tail.
Remember how she would patiently explain that you must make the a have that tail so that it is properly distinguished from the o? In second grade that tone of voice is warm and comforting. Coming from your husband, that tone of voice is grating and irritating, mostly because you realize that your husband doesn’t think you are any more intelligent than a second grader.
One of those evenings, when he had just come home, and right before we were to sit down to dinner, he excitedly ran out to the garage to fetch the latest floor cleaning tool so he could demonstrate the correct technique – again. He returned perplexed and empty-handed. I let him turn the house upside down until well after our dinner should have been eaten.
I never did tell him that his dust broom had made its own escape in that morning’s garbage pick up.