By: Mary Fran Bontempo
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And while “In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,” (thank you, Lord Tennyson), in my version, a middle-aged woman’s fancy heavily turns to thoughts of spring cleaning. (No caps because I hate spring cleaning.)
When I was a kid, spring cleaning in my mother’s house was an epic event, bordering on insanity by today’s standards. The household purge took at least a week, the culmination happening over a weekend when my father was enlisted to disassemble every bed in the house and move all the furniture so my mother could sterilize every conceivable surface. She cleaned walls, floors, woodwork, light fixtures, furniture, linens, curtains, windows, and us, if we didn’t run fast enough.
Ditto with the bathrooms, kitchen, living and dining rooms and the basement, where we kids were given the necessary tools to make our play area hospital-grade clean.
To say I haven’t followed in her footsteps would be an understatement.
With my husband and I, one pee-happy dog, and three adult children all living at home in various full or part-time stages, the Bontempo domicile is stuffed. Stuffed with stuff. So spring cleaning is less about taking beds apart and more about finding the floor in the laundry room, as five adults wrangle for a slot to wash work and “play” clothes, maneuvering around drying racks strung with delicates and stepping over piles of “waiting to go in” while trying to make some sense of the balled up wad in the dryer.
It’s about finding enough room in the fridge and pantry to accommodate the particular eating habits of Tastykake lovers (guess who that might be), almost- vegetarians with a penchant for eating things with weird sounding names–quinoa, anyone?–and a mother who saves every mouthful of food in ever-multiplying little containers because she can’t bear the thought of throwing food away.
It’s about clearing out the upstairs hallway so we don’t trip and kill ourselves over the always growing piles of discards (clothes, shoes, hats, giant light-up pictures I misguidedly bought everyone one Christmas) as the “kids” try and divest themselves of the baggage of outgrown, ancient and just plain stupid stuff in their rooms. (See afore mentioned light-up pictures.)
Bearing in mind that everyone is working and living really busy lives, the above is a never-ending project. Which means that the extra job of spring cleaning, for me, has devolved into keeping the house from exploding at the seams (don’t even get me started on the garage) and doing a quick, under-furniture swipe with a dry mop to catch the floating dog hair.
Things may change as the kids move out, de-stuffing the place. Then, I’ll be able to take down beds, wash the walls and scour every bit of woodwork in a real spring cleaning.
Gee, I can hardly wait.
What’s your spring cleaning ritual? Click “comments” below and share!