As of when I’m typing this, we still don’t have internet. Supposedly it was going to be on yesterday, but after a big long ordeal . . . well, suffice to say, it still isn’t.

But I’m personally more concerned about something else. See, we just moved. And someone else is going to the old place to clean today. Why is someone else going to the old place to clean? Your guess is at least as good as mine. There’s one more person living there until Tuesday. Some renovations are happening after that, so it’s not like it’s going to stay clean. And though we have some prior obligations during the day today, we’re going back this evening and tomorrow after church to get the rest of our stuff and clean.

I know most people would say, “Awesome! I don’t have to do all the cleaning!” But that is not my first or primary reaction. My reaction is more like . . . I cried when I found out they were going to be there cleaning today.

To be honest, we did as much Thursday and yesterday as we could. We had help Thursday, but I still have a young child and there’s only so much we can do with him while moving. Though he “helps” sometimes, it’s only so helpful and he still needs to be constantly watched.

And, as I said, we have some prior obligations today during the day and can’t be there until this evening. Probably at the expense of the better part of a birthday party that happens to be in the same area as the other obligations, and which I was really looking forward to attending. But duty first—we have to get the rest of our stuff out of there and get things cleaned. And I can not can not can NOT leave the rest of the cleaning to other people!

Why? Because the greatest shame of my life—more than when a friend told me she wouldn’t come over to my house anymore because it was so awful; more than when my mother would say things like, “It’s just impossible to keep the house clean with kids around”; more than when my father would say things like, “These kids complain about not being able to find anything to eat in the house, then I look and find things to make something fit for the [famous restaurant of some sort]”—more than any of that, the greatest shame of my life was when I realized that someone else had to clean up The Big House. The worst house we ever left.

And once I realized that, I realized someone had to clean up after us every time we moved out of anywhere. Whether we left behind a lot or very little, the place was always still a mess. Food splatters everywhere. Spaghetti still stuck to the ceiling from “is it done?” tests. Floors that we didn’t even sweep, vacuum, or mop on our way out. Sinks, mirrors, and windows that hadn’t known a cleaner since we’d been there. Sometimes some things that were broken—not necessarily even our fault, but that we hadn’t told the landlord about because then he would see the house. Not to mention the cat pee that was often left in carpets, and it’s hard to describe just what a toilet, tub, and bathroom floor that are never cleaned can look like when used by many people and several cats for a year or more.

To be honest, it’s not that we absolutely never cleaned in the time we were in each place. It’s just that it was mostly up to us kids, and frankly, we had no idea that the toilet should be cleaned at least monthly or more often. (Probably weekly for the amount of people we had in each house.) We had no idea that kitty litter should be emptied with a scoop every few days, rather than just waiting until the whole litter box was well beyond use and then dumping it all into the trash and refilling. We had no clue that we should be using a wand to vacuum the edges of the carpet, not vacuuming the middle and calling it good. We didn’t know how to pick up the little extra things that float around and get shoved into corners. If there was a clear path to walk through, wow, that room was clean!

I digress. My point was this: we left house after house after apartment after apartment after house with way too much cleaning left to do. I don’t know if my parents ever got a security deposit back. To be honest, I’m not sure they know they can get it back. (Well, they’re not stupid, they consciously know this. But I think they kind of assume it just never really happens and they blame it on unfair landlords or something.) So when I moved out on my own, I swore that would never happen. I will clean every place I move out of. I may still be learning how to keep a clean house while I’m there, but I know how to go back through and make sure it’s clean after I move out. No one will have to clean up after me.

But there’s something I still don’t have down: how to pack efficiently and get everything moved all in one day. I’m just not organized like that. I’m not efficient like that. I don’t know how to DO that. Which means I can’t just move everything out and then clean my way out of the house. (Especially not when our former housemate is still living there until Tuesday.) So I cleaned the whole bathroom. I wiped down the front of the cupboards in the kitchen, cleaned the stove, and mopped. Still need to move the fridge because there’s a ton of crud between the counter and the fridge—visible, but not accessible until the fridge is moved. I mopped the laundry room, but our bedroom isn’t empty yet to be mopped. The windows and mirrors have been cleaned, except the ones in my bedroom. The living room, dining room, and our bedroom have the most stuff still left in them. It’s just a matter of getting everything out and doing that last bit of cleaning. And even though they’ll get dirty again, I will still vacuum the carpets. Once all our stuff is off of them, they will be vacuumed. They will.

But people are going to clean today. What are they going to clean? I have no idea. Maybe I’ll find out they already moved the fridge and cleaned up the crud in there that I didn’t clean yet. Maybe I’ll find they straightened out the liners in the kitchen cupboards and drawers and cleaned those before I had a chance to. Maybe I’ll find they piled all our stuff in one place and mopped the bedroom for me. Maybe I’ll find they cleaned the bottom of the full-length mirrors that my son smudged up with his fingers.

To be honest, I’ve done most of the biggest cleaning. Other than the kitchen sink, cupboards, drawers, and space between the stove and fridge, there really isn’t that much to do. But I still hate the idea of someone else having to do it.

There’s so much organizing to do in our new place, and I want to get more of it done before the landlord comes in an hour or so to fix something that wasn’t quite ready when we moved in. Yet all I can think about is that today, someone else is going to be cleaning up after me.

Note: I wrote this several days ago, during the move and before we had internet again. Some of the details have changed a little–for instance, I apologized profusely for not being there to help finish all the cleaning, and was assured that it was okay. Some things frustrated me more, some things assuaged my frustrations. But basically, by now the whole house has been cleaned one way or another and I’ve more-or-less moved on with life. But I still figured I’d share this since it’s what I was thinking/how I was feeling at the time.

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