When I was a teenager, we lived with my grandparents in a small but comforting little house with an art studio in the basement and plenty of room for visitors.
Our big family meant many visitors and visitors meant two things in my grandmother’s house: the vacuum and the bathroom.
It wasn’t unusual at that time to find me on a Saturday morning doing my teenage duty and sleeping in past the noon hour. But when visitors were expected we could all expect to hear the sound of a vacuum at 6 a.m.
Now the logical thing for a teenager to do when the sound of a running vacuum is heard at 6 a.m. on a Saturday is to turn to one’s side and cover one’s head with a pillow. That solution, however, was short lived because while my grandmother was already busy cooking the entire day’s menu, my mother would eventually haul the vacuum up the very narrow staircase that led to our bedrooms where she would stand letting it whirrrr loudly until we opened our eyes.
We had a choice. “You can vacuum or clean the bathrooms,” my mother would say. But either way, we’d better be up and cleaning something within the next 20 minutes or we would be deemed reprehensible mongrels for the rest of our days.
And nobody likes cleaning the bathroom … So I’d grab the vacuum.
We’d clean the house top to bottom within the 24 hours prior to any visit. It seemed like a chore then. But as an adult, it takes on a new meaning. We talk a lot about cleaning here at the blog – obviously – but cleaning up is about so much more than just getting rid of the mess.
A clean home is a reflection of you, the homeowner or apartment dweller. It shows you care about your home and the people you welcome to it. It’s a matter of genuine pride. Nobody set foot in my grandmother’s house unless the floor was mopped, the tables were dusted, the cooktop was sparkling and carpets were clean. And that sense of cleanliness has been passed down from one generation to the next.
Keep that in mind the next time you cast a weary eye on that filmy cooktop or dusty coffee table.
In a few short weeks we’ll celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday. She’s given us 80 years of life lessons that only grandmothers can give. For those of us who live nearby, our homes will be turned into short term inns for visiting family members.
Which means … I’m sorry but I have to go. There’s a vacuum with my name on it.
What lessons have been passed down to you when it comes to cleaning? Post your story to comments!