My mother has often described her twenties as a time when she would vacuum her apartment multiple times a week and wax the kitchen floor every Saturday. She's always seemed to enjoy diving into that particular pool of nostalgia, staring off into the distance to imagine her dust-free windowsills and sparkling silver sink drains. I never understood how someone could be so turned on by a cleaning routine.
And then, yesterday, I came home from work and cleaned for five hours. It was great. After plowing through four loads of laundry and discovering where the funky smell in the kitchen came from (answer: moldy hamburger buns left over from the housewarming party), I felt peaceful.
I'm understanding, I think, where my mama was coming from. The life for which she reminisces is not necessarily a life of scrubbing floors on your hands and knees but of having enough time to take care of your shit, including the maintenance of your living space. I bet the same period of time in which she prioritized a well-vacuumed apartment was one where exercise, sleeping, and eating right were also honored. A time when she had the capacity to honor those priorities--and this is something to look back at fondly, to fight to maintain even as you learn to compromise.
So, if you're reading mom, I vow to never again snicker at your memories of clean living (especially because my birth probably threw all that balance out the window). My house will never be as clean as your standards dictate but I now understand your need for a routine as sane. And what's more, I see my recent crazy-busy week of letting the laundry pile up and the hamburger buns go moldy and working more hours than I care to admit as just what it is: crazy.