Meditation or Chore

My husband and I have had housecleaners longer than I can remember, although that’s a fairly low bar with my sieve-like memory. I do know we didn’t have them when the kids were little because I’m a compassionate person and wouldn’t subject anyone to that.

I think probably the change officially came when the kids mostly moved out and I didn’t have a live-in staff I could boss around any longer. My husband never really responded to my threats of grounding him if he didn’t dust the living room.

“Wait. Let me understand this. So I don’t have to dust AND I don’t have to go anywhere? You’re the best wife EVER!”

We were able to get by with just monthly cleanings until we got our remarkably hirsute roommate.

Then we had to ramp it up to every other week.

For those of you who haven’t heard me tell this story 4,367 times, Nala was my son’s dog when he was stationed in Guam. But when he got orders to Bahrain, he couldn’t take her. There were many phone calls that went an awful lot like this:

Jeff: So … only eight weeks until I ship out …

Me: What will you do with Nala?

Jeff: Oh, I don’t know. I’m working on some things….

Jeff: So … only seven weeks until I ship out …

Me: What will you do with Nala?

Jeff: Oh, I don’t know. I’m working on some things….

Jeff: So … only six weeks until I ship out …

Me: What will you do with Nala?

Jeff: Oh, I don’t know. I’m working on some things….

Jeff: So … only five weeks until I ship out …

Me: SEND ME THAT DOG IMMEDIATELY.

Jeff: Finally! That’s the thing I’ve been working on.

Our housecleaners have kept us from twisting our ankles due to the sheer depth of the hairscape on our floors.

At least until the pandemic. No housecleaning, so hubs and I had to figure out what needed to be done and how often, and then we divvied up the chores. Some stuff he likes, some stuff I like, and some neither of us likes so we alternate those. It’s been working out just fine.

I realized not too long ago that we perfectly illustrated the yin and yang of an almost-37-year marriage.

While we still had the cleaners coming, I heard him one Sunday vacuuming the wood floor in the den where the dog hair is most visible. The morning sunlight streams in, highlighting the patina of fur coating the parquet like glitter on a preschoolers Mother’s Day card. Personally, I don’t like to disturb the magnificence of this phenomenon. I close the blinds or simply return to my coffee in the other room, reminding him, “The housecleaners are coming on Wednesday.”

He said, “I know! The housecleaners aren’t coming until Wednesday!”

If this makes you think I don’t like to vacuum, you’d be wrong. It’s quite possibly my favorite chore. But only on the carpet.

It’s very meditative. Peaceful. Rhythmic. Deliberate. Immediate.

I love analyzing the floor plan of each room—taking into account the constantly evolving miscellany I have no intention of moving—to choose the best electrical outlet for optimum cleaning area to avoid traipsing over newly pristine carpet to replug.

I love calculating what percentage of my time is spent trying to get the vacuum to pick up a piece of thread rather than simply bending over and picking it up with my fingers. I will not be swayed, however. We bought a machine to handle this chore. I don’t drip hot water through my fingers to make coffee. I don’t bake brownies on my feverish brow. I don’t wash my dirty dishes in the shower while I bathe. And I don’t clean my carpet with my fingers. No matter what.

I love exercising my brain cells to figure out the pattern whereby I can back out of the room with perfectly napped carpet.

I love the thrill of the gamble to see how close I can get to the dangling cords of the mini-blinds without sucking them into the machine.

And when I’m done, I have the loveliness. At least until I need something across the room. But seriously …. do I really need it? Doubtful.

Using my Swiffer comes a close second. The difference is that I can’t see evidence of my accomplishment until the very end when, with horror in my eyes and a wrinkle on my nose, I see the filth on the cloth even though hubs vacuumed just moments before.

But then I cuddle the dog, watch the cascade of hair in the sunlight, and it all becomes insignificant again.

What chores do you hate? Which do you love? Do you find vacuuming relaxing?

6 thoughts on “Meditation or Chore”

  1. ROFL that was hilarious. I hate all chores LOL And nope, don’t vacuum. I’m lucky enough to have a housekeeper and a husband whose willing to do kitchen cleanup.

    1. Thanks, Tam! My husband does kitchen clean-up too. When we were first married, he worked in a print shop running a press, so his hands were always in ink. He liked doing the dishes because it helped get the ink stains off. We had the rule that whoever didn’t cook had to clean the kitchen. Of course, that has slowly morphed into, no matter who cooks, he still cleans the kitchen. Frankly, it’s a great rule!

  2. Dear Becky,
    I loved your story on Meditation or Chore! I had just finished
    Vacuuming my living room and kitchen because my grand children are coming over today and because I have a very hairy
    Yellow lab…. I have to do it before they arrive so they don’t leave with hair all over their clothes! Thanks so much for your stories… they do make me smile and laugh!😄

    1. Aw, thanks so much, Linda! I had company yesterday but didn’t have time to run the swiffer around, but I also knew she had dogs and that “selective vision” we pet owners are blessed with. Although after she left, I sat on the couch with Nala for a bit and made the mistake of leaning against “her” pillow with my black t-shirt on … oy vey! I should mention to my husband that “we” should vacuum the couch ….

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