Archived Story

Cleaning up my life

Published 6:41pm Monday, April 9, 2012

From the time I was a toddler until the time I moved out and headed to college, my mother always made sure I knew what it meant to clean up after myself.

If ever my room would start to look like it was caving in on itself, she would either lovingly tell me to clean my room “or else,” or she would take everything that wasn’t in its place, put it in a pile in the middle of my room and tell me to put it where it belongs. If I couldn’t find a place for something she would “take it to Good Will or throw it away.”

During those moments I would get so angry, muttering under my breath, wishing I didn’t have to do what my mother told me to do and wanting to be doing something besides cleaning my room.

This attitude of course went along with doing the dishes, folding the laundry, dusting all the surfaces in the house, scrubbing the bathroom, Windexing the windows, mowing the lawn, washing the car, etc.

Now, 20-something years later, I never thought, in a million years, that those buzz-killing chores would be beneficial to my life.

While my house is never “spotless,” it is a reflection of the home I grew up in.

Counter tops wiped down, floors vacuumed and swept, bathrooms scrubbed, and junk either taken to Good Will or the trash.

Sometimes it’s odd to me that I get a thrill out of cleaning out a junk closet, organizing kitchen drawers, and tidying up the house when I get home from work.

Not only that, but now I also have the same reaction my mother always did when company was coming over.

“We’ve got to clean the house, quick! So-and-so is coming over tomorrow,” she would say in some form or fashion.

I remember then saying things like, “Mom, the house looks fine. Why do we have to clean the house? It’s already clean enough.”

But now, having my own home for two years, and having company over quite frequently, I know exactly how my mother felt all of those years.

And while I thought it was senseless then, I realize that having a clean, inviting home is something special.

My mother’s ways of cleanliness taught me to take care of myself, and now my husband. It’s taught me to be hospitable to others by wanting to give them the best when visiting my home. Being hospitable has also carried out into my every day life, teaching me to give to others in need.

It’s also taught me patience, that while I may want things a certain way, frequent company and my husband may temporarily make things messy again.

So needless to say, Mom, I’m sorry for muttering under my breath.

How was I to know that all of those years you really needed an applause?

Thanks, Mom, for being so faithful to teach me to clean up after myself but also for the many other morals and values that have helped to clean up my life.

I know now that I’m all the better for it.

Hargett is a staff writer for The Outlook.

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