I’m not sure if it puts me at a higher risk in these pandemic days, but I’m not a germophobe.
I confess, I haven’t gone over every surface in my house with something meant to kill anything living on them in the past couple of weeks.
I actually have cleaned more than usual for me, but mainly because my husband is now four weeks past his hip replacement and it wouldn’t be a good time for him to pick up an infection of any kind and need to go to the hospital.
There are many places I could lay the blame, if necessary, but the reality is that I just don’t care that much about cleaning things.
I grew up having the most fun playing in dirt piles or sand, fashioning “buildings” out of branches and leaves, stirring up mud puddles and mixing up different things just to see what could happen.
I still love spring, sticking my hands down in the dirt, squeezing the lumps out of to make a smooth path for the roots of the plants I’ll put in my barrels after the 15th of May has passed.
Or pulling out the weeds that I let go the year before as they emerge young and fragile for a few weeks before really digging themselves in. I can spend hours just working through the soil with my hands. It’s very satisfying to me.
And when I finally need to clean up, there is always a nail brush and a sturdy bar of soap to get the job done.
So for me, I don’t get too excited about cleaning things. When I can see the dirt, it’s time.
And I am puzzled by my friends who clean obsessively. Since this pandemic started I’ve seen lots of Facebook posts about how much/often/vigorously people are cleaning.
In my mind I don’t see the need. I’m not saying we shouldn’t wash our hands often and well. But our reality is that we are not out and among other people hardly at all. We have been staying home, and when we do venture out we wash up good when we return.
I will clarify by saying I do know how to clean. And when I do it I do it well. The two and a half years I spent as a maid at a hotel taught me a lot about deep cleaning, so it isn’t lack of knowledge. Just personal preference of how I’d rather spend my time.
I don’t like to clean, but I like making lists about cleaning. I could write lists for a living. I love breaking things down into the component parts. And I can see that in order to get from point A to point B in a project things 1, 2 and 3 probably need to happen. And I can include all those details that will get the job done well.
I actually have wide-eyed hopeful lists of cleaning chores I wrote when I was brand-new married. They are something to see! (Yes, I kept the notebook I wrote them in, it’s somewhere in a box in a closet.)
We had just built our house, it wasn’t quite finished on our wedding day, so everything was fresh and new. I had lists of daily, weekly, semi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual cleaning chores to be done. Even a few five to ten year things like painting.
I sure had my work cut out for me.
It wasn’t until we’d been married ten years that my husband told me something I’d never ever known about myself.
He said I was a perfectionist.
Well. If that were the case, wouldn’t I have been able to complete all the tasks on all those lists?
But the reality was that I hadn’t.
And the context in which Dear Husband shared this truth with me was in talking about the household chores and how we split them up between us.
I thought about this new idea. Was I a perfectionist?
Well, I certainly knew in my mind exactly how I wanted things done. And I could see every step that needed to be taken to get the outcome I envisioned. But I had lived life with other people for so long that I had learned a basic fact.
If there is a way for things to stop your plans from being realized, it will happen. In my case someone else’s needs usually came in the middle of whatever I wanted to accomplish.
It wasn’t that their needs were more important than mine, just that they were important. They needed to be taken care of. So I learned to let the things go that really didn’t matter as much as I thought it did all those years ago when I made those starry-eyed lists.
So I don’t clean like I could, maybe even like I should. It’s more hit and miss than I’d like.
But in these times when things aren’t going the way they normally would, when grocery shopping has become an opportunistic hunt and work is slow coming in, when everyone is home and tempers flare and we all are more needy than normal, I’m okay with it.
I’m fine not being a germophobe. I have more important things on my mind.