Monday, June 11, 2007

Why Bother?

Take a moment now, please, and look around the room. What do you see? Well, if you’re in your house, you probably see just that – your house. But look closer. How do you think it would look to a stranger? There – now do you see it? You have a big pile of papers and keys and maybe a wallet parked on that table near the door. There’s probably a pair of sneakers over there, too. If you have kids, then you definitely have Cheerios on the floor, over near the sink, tucked just under the edge of the cupboard. And let’s not even get started on the dining room table.

We’re all of us surrounded by the detritus of our own lives, and because it’s ours, we never see it. But we have piles of unneeded junk everywhere.

Well, not me. Just you. I spent last week cleaning up, getting ready for potential tenants to come traipsing through my house. I scrubbed. I mopped. I organized. I did everything but vacuum (see post below, titled “How to Pack Less”). So my house was, by and large, looking quite good by Friday night.

On Saturday morning, Shay had a soccer game and Aidan had a birthday party to attend. So the house still looked rather nice when the slow trickle of people started through our house that afternoon. But this morning, no one stopped by. It’s Sunday, I figured – maybe no one house hunts on a Sunday. I let my guard down a bit. Pulled some weeds outside while the boys played in the sprinklers and Kyra played in the nearby mud. We tracked a little mud into the house when they went upstairs to change, but no matter. Kyra fell asleep, so I put her in her crib and put the boys in front of a movie. I finished up some chores, then thought I’d try to relax a bit while all the kids were occupied. After the movie ended, the boys went outside. And that’s the exact moment when they showed up.

A middle-aged Korean couple, well-dressed and soft-spoken, had arrived on our doorstep with their realtor. So I let them in, cringing when she took off her shoes in my not-quite-clean entry way. While they looked upstairs, I tried to clean up the popcorn bowls and cups in the kitchen. As they left, I saw another family approaching, so I dashed upstairs to make the boys’ beds. That’s when I discovered that Shay hadn’t entirely cleaned up after himself when he changed after playing in the sprinkler. He’d put his wet shirt and shorts in the hamper, which is pretty good for him. But somehow he’d managed to drop a soggy pair of underwear right in the middle of the hallway. I wanted to run after that couple and explain that we don’t normally leave wet muddy underwear lying around the house, but by then the next family was on the way upstairs.

That evening, as I cut vegetables in my now-clean-again kitchen, Kyra sat beside me on the floor, dumping an entire cupboard of Tupperware on the floor. Seriously, why do I bother trying to keep the place clean? Every time I turn around, someone is undoing what little progress I’ve made. And to make matters worse, Kyra decided that this weekend would be an excellent weekend to learn to climb up stairs. So she’s made the trek every time I’ve turned my back to put something away.

Let’s all pause for another moment. This time, please say a prayer that this place rents quickly, because we’re only two days into the ordeal, and I think the overexposure to cleaning solutions might be causing me to lose my mind.


Maria Meldrum said... [Reply]

No wonder I feel like you're already in China! Instead of hanging out in the neighborhood you're spending all your time following the kids around the house picking up muddy underwear...

Please. Write your own stuff.