Tag Archives: housework

It Came From the Dryer


I wasn’t going to write about this, so as not to cause our dear friends-turned-landlords Matt and April any misgivings about my ability to keep house in a fashion that will not cause permanent damage to the resale value of the beautiful home we are renting from them.  To that end, I will start with the following reassuring facts:

a)  I learned my lesson*.


b)  After all was said and done (and scrubbed and polished), the floor was as good as new, the linoleum perfectly restored to the pristine beauty of its installation day twenty years ago.  (Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the Eighties off of it, but that’s not my fault.)


Lint Monster.

That’s what it was.  A sinister, skulking denizen of evil, spawned in the unseen underworld of our seemingly innocuous laundry room.

Moving, especially with the help of friends, is an exercise in vulnerability.  There’s all your stuff, turned out of its hidden drawers and cupboards and piled unceremoniously into boxes and bags for quick and dirty transport.  Under the couch, a legion of dust bunnies has formed guerrilla ranks, taking cover beneath years worth of lost toys and misplaced socks.  All the nooks and crannies that you carelessly neglected in your harried housecleaning regimen have become, minus the usual camouflage of furniture and household paraphernalia, glaring offenses that make you squirm with embarrassment.

Which brings me to the discovery of the Lint Monster.

I wasn’t there when our friends moved the washer and dryer, but I heard about it–the shock, the awe, the shrinking back in fear.  I was at the new house, supervising the placement of boxes, when they arrived to discharge the second trailer load, still shaking their heads in amazement at the state of our laundry room floor.  It was only later, when I went back with Paul to clean the apartment, that I saw it for myself.

And it wasn’t pretty.

At some point in the last few years, there must have been a leak or a spill.  Maybe it was laundry detergent, or one of the many cleaners I keep on the shelf above the appliances; I’m not sure.  Whatever it was, it attracted lint.  Lots of it.  Layers and layers of lint accumulating over the passing months had formed a sort of primordial sediment in the dark environs beneath the washer, a soup that might have had Darwin on his hands and knees searching for emerging signs of life.  Like the Blob, it had swallowed up everything in its path as it crept across the floor–pennies, paper clips, bits of paper and torn kleenex.  I tried not to think of what it looked like as I pondered how in the world I was going to clean it up.

In the end, it took a scraper, a roll of paper towels, a half a dozen rags, and bucket after bucket of soapy water to do the job.  While Paul vacuumed the apartment, dusted the baseboards, wiped down the walls, washed the windows, and cleaned the slider tracks, I engaged in pitched combat with the Lint Monster.

I won, but it was a close thing.

I’m just glad no one else was around when we moved the refrigerator. 



*Every so often, you should move your major appliances and check to make sure there are no super-intelligent microbial societies emerging from the detritus underneath them.  Housekeeping 101.



As a fairly busy full-time homemaker and stay-at-home mom, I often wondered how women who worked for a paycheck by day and cared for a home and family by night ever found the time to do it all.

Now that I am a member of the legion of working mothers, I can finally and definitively answer that question for myself:

I don’t.

(Apologies to those of you out there who can and have and currently are doing it all and doing it quite well, thank-you-very-much.  Clearly I’m not talking to you.  You are Super Mom.  I’ve heard of you.  You have inadvertently stumbled across the blog of a well-intentioned, intermittently inspired, but *Merely Mortal Mom.  This blog is like yours, but with whining.  Allow me to redirect you: kryptonmoms.wordpress.com.  Be sure to check out their online store for the stylish new Maya Wrap/cape combo!)

Anyway, what was I saying?  Oh, yes…

I miss housework.

Did I type that?  I must have, but I dozed off for a minute there, so I’m not entirely sure.  It’s true, nonetheless.

When I was at home, I did housework every day.  Mostly when I felt like it, with occasional breaks for reading or playing with Caleb or running errands, but with a regularity and efficiency that rendered my weekends completely free for family frivolity and lovely, languid afternoons of shameless vegetating.

Now the dreamlike landscape of my weekends has given way to a strange continent of laundry mountains, flowing with rivers of dishwashing detergent.  I’m playing catch up, but I must not be very good, because I haven’t caught up yet.

When I was working at home, I stayed up until midnight every evening with my night owl husband, nourishing my marriage with long, soulful talks and marathon horde-bashing sessions, knowing that I could always make up for it the next day with a quick doze on the couch when Caleb went down for a nap.

Now I’m the fuddy duddy falling asleep on the couch at nine-thirty, head back, mouth open as if frozen in the act of teaching my kindergarten class the short “o” sound–which is probably what I’m dreaming about.

When I was a full-time domestic engineer, I ran a tight ship.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  Dust was banished.  The toilet was clean.  The kids’ toys were sorted neatly into categorized bins at bedtime.  I cared about these things, deeply.

In recent weeks, I have waded through the contents of an upturned toy box to tuck the kids into bed, stopping only to kick a clear path to the door.  I have been slowly cultivating a science experiment of alarming color in the bowl of the toilet, and yesterday I wrote my To Do List in the dust on the coffee table.

To put it simply, I’m floundering.

I know the most important things are getting done.  I’m teaching, and I love it.  I’m spending time with my children, hugging and playing and reading a little every day.  Paul does help out when he can, and he and I still get some time together every night, even if we are under the gun to get in bed before my coach turns into a pumpkin.  Life is good, and I have absolutely no reason to complain (but when has that stopped me?)

The truth is, I miss my tight ship.  How do they do it, those other moms?

I am such a weenie.

Where’s a super hero when you really need one?

Dirty House Friends


“Company’s coming!”

As a child, I knew what that meant. My mom would put us to work picking up clutter, vacuuming the carpet, and cleaning the kitchen, while she ran to the pantry to survey our stores and choose ingredients for a meal worthy of visiting dignitaries. The house took on a shine that it never wore when it was just the five of us, and we gathered around the table to marvel at the pristine tablecloth and the regal centerpiece looking like some foreign piece of art sitting there, where, on normal days, we folded laundry, did homework, and played with Legos.

Now, as an adult, I also love to invite people over for dinner, and the ritual is much the same. I press Paul and the kids into service to clean the apartment from stem to stern, trying to see it through a stranger’s eyes and discovering dirt in places I usually overlook, like on the baseboards and inside the stove’s fume hood. I scrub the toilet, sweep the floors, eradicate the rapidly reproducing dust bunny population, clean the tub (as if dinner guests are going to take a shower while they’re here), and order all the kids’ toys confined to their room for the duration. I even light candles to make it smell as if I bake.

Then, since I used up all my time cleaning instead of cooking, we order pizza. But that’s another post.

The point is that while I enjoy special occasions and inviting new friends and acquaintances over to showcase my masterful housekeeping and pizza ordering skills, when it comes to socializing, my favorite moments are those I spend with my Dirty House Friends.

Dirty House Friends are the ones you call up on a whim to ask, “What are you doing? Come over and watch Phantom of the Opera with me!” And they come, despite the fact that you’ve made them watch Phantom of the Opera six times already (rewinding all the good parts with Gerard Butler.) They sit on the couch next to your unfolded laundry with their feet resting on the wooden blocks and puzzle pieces and Happy Meal toys that are scattered around the living room like shrapnel from an explosion in Santa’s workshop, and they don’t see a thing. You never say “Sorry about the mess!” to a Dirty House Friend, because they don’t care, and when you’re with them, neither do you.

Dirty House Friends let you glimpse their clutter, too. I always rejoice when a friendship crosses the boundary of company clean into the intimacy of Dirty House-ness. When I walk, invited, into a friend’s house to see crusty dishes in the sink and stacks of papers scattered over the dining room table, I smile inwardly, knowing that I have stepped into the inner sanctum of my friend’s genuine living space, her real and disheveled and authentic life.

And that’s what I love most about Dirty House Friends. A friend who’s not put off by my messy house won’t be scared away by my messy life. A friend like that can take it when you lose your keys, lose your temper, lose your mind. A friend like that will be around when you’ve really screwed up, passing over recriminations in favor of a much needed hug and some help in picking up the pieces, knowing that you’ll be there when the pieces are hers. A Dirty House Friend won’t think you’re a bad mom when you drop the kids off at her house just to get an hour or two alone. She isn’t freaked out when you burst into tears, and the word “overshare” doesn’t apply to her. She’ll take you seriously when you tell her to call anytime, and the resulting conversations will cover everything from peanut butter brands to deep spiritual struggles.

A Dirty House Friend sees the clutter in your home, in your mind, and in your life, and loves it all. Loves you, the you that lies beyond your Yankee candles and your clean baseboards.

So if you’re thinking of inviting me over, do me a favor. Don’t bother to clean. Let’s just clear a space in the mess, pull up some chairs, order pizza, and talk.

Let the dust bunnies live to see another day.


*Dedicated to my own dear Dirty House Friends. You are such a blessing to me!