A Little Ray of Sunshine

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My husband and cleaning

Cleaning is one of those things I was not taught to do. Dad has always left his stuff wherever. Mom has gone through phases of picking it up and then him starting fights over her touching his stuff, or of just leaving it. He'd rather have it just left, he doesn't mind if there is dirt or whatever else on the floor because it can't be swept because of his piles of stuff! One of the just leaving it phases coincided with my teen years.
So I didn't learn the routines that make for housekeeping. Mom yelled at me to make my bed at least a couple times a day, but that was it as far as housecleaning training. I did learn to be an excellent cook, but not how to do it without leaving the kitchen a mess. (Of course, you didn't want to look too closely at the kitchen those days, anyway. Mom and Dad are in a fighting over the mess phase now, so things are pretty decent, at least in the public areas of the house.)
For a long time I simply didn't see the mess. It was what I was used to, after all. Did it really matter if I couldn't see the floor of the apartment? I hadn't seen empty floors, except in other peoples' homes, for years. The stuff had to go somewhere, and it was too much work to sort it out and throw it out or put it away.
My husband is a very tolerant man. He knew I was a lousy housekeeper when he married me, and he puts up with it as long as it doesn't get unsanitary. And I'm getting some improvement. Or so he claims: I don't see a lot of it. (On the other hand, I am a great cook, and we're expecting our third child before our fifth wedding aniversery, so there are clearly some compensations for the mess he puts up with!)
Before he had his internship at the university last year, he worked part-time in the server rooms. It's a weird schedule rotation, and I don't like it for that reason. Other than that, it's a pretty good job. Mostly quiet, plenty of time for him to study, and it pays better than minimum wage, which is saying a lot around here. Not enough for a family to live on, but combined with financial aid and all, it's not that bad. And they wanted him back desperately. To the point that they called him.
So he's back working there, odd hours on the weekends, and also covering for some of the full-timers when they go on vacation. The load on the servers is light, there are no major print jobs to run for professors, and really, the only thing that's happened the four days he's worked so far is a remote counsole had to be rebooted. As long as whatever is happened there is handled, they don't care what the employees do the rest of the time. Many of them game. Some websurf. (They even provide a separate hard drive for the employees to load their games onto, which shows how much work there really is! It's like babysitting, only for computers.)
And my husband, bless his heart, is willing to sit on Yahoo! chat with me for hours and encourage me while I tackle a little bit of this mess. I can't do much, and I hate doing it at all, but I'm getting somewhere. The past two evenings he's worked I've gotten both the top and the inside of my computer desk cleaned out. And it was nasty! I threw out three grocery bags of trash.
It's been really helpful having him available, too, but physically present. He is in great physical shape and moves quickly, if we clean together I end up with a whole pile of stuff I am supposed to deal with while he is already done. I am six months pregnant, not supposed to lift stuff, and can't stand for long. Plus most of the pile he hands me is stuff that ought to be filed, which I am supposed to do, but I hate doing, and he doesn't do, so if he is here I get mad that he won't stick the stuff in the labled drawers in the file cabinent but just hands it to me to do.
But if he is on chat, well, then he is only moral support, and occasional identifier of mystery items. I can't get mad at him for handing me stuff to file if he's not there handing it to me. And it gets kind of fun. "Honey, we've got three staplers!" "Did you get one out of my backpack, then?" "Nope, they were all in my desk drawers! I guess that means we own four!"

"I found a thing, a wire: one end is an ethernet or phone cord, and the other end looks like a USB connector except it doesn't have a metal peice."
"Cool. I wonder what it is?"
"I don't know but I'm sure it's something of yours."
"Me too."
"I found what I think is the thing that lets you plug a laptop hard drive into a regular desktop computer."
"Great! I've been wondering where that was!"
"Eeeew! There are maggots in this drawer!"
"Do you see what they were eating? Are there holes in the wood?"
"No holes. There's a grain of unpopped popcorn, dried out rice, and some really old chocolate chips. Do you think Lysol would work or should I use bleach?"
"Lysol will do. They're just bugs."
"Yes, but they're gross-looking bugs."

Yes, really, there were maggots in the drawer. The drawer that holds the keyboard, which is the only drawer that can't be closed, as the keyboard gets in the way. This desk is far older than computers, even the old room sized ones, so it's an improvised setup.
I can only assume that one of the flies that has come in lately found something appealing to lay eggs in and did so. Yuck!
On the bright side, I can see the surface of the desk. The dsl box now is uncovered and not nearly so hot (we're probably lucky we didn't have a housefire as a result of papers on top of that thing). We both know where all three staplers, the unopened box of staples, the scissors (2 pairs so far, but I know there are at least two more pairs in this house, that's how many just I have bought), two rulars (again, there should be more) and a great many envelopes are located. I found lots of other interesting things, and my husband is trying to decide what to do with some of the computer stuff that turned up. (The laptop screen is dead, has been for several years, so really, the modem and two ethernet cards for it are rather useless. Not to mention old and slow. Oh, and the cable proved to be the cable for the laptop modem card.)
There is one drawer I didn't do yet, the drawer that old letters are put into. I know that in that drawer are the letters my mother-in-law wrote my husband when he first told her we were getting married. She was very upset. (Having one American daughter-in-law already, and then, she'd planned for him to marry someone else. I don't even talk to that particular sister-in-law unless I have to, so . . .) But I am pregnant, and very emotional right now. And even though I know those opinions of hers have changed, I'm not going to be able to smile and put the letters back away right now. Which is what I'd normally do. And that drawer can survive for a few more months, I'm pretty sure.
I think the next night my husband works I'll tackle what ought to be footspace under the desk. I ought to get at least another bag or two of trash out of there.
In the mean time, I also think my husband ought to qualify for sainthood just for putting up with me.


  • At 8:53 AM, June 23, 2006, Blogger CrazyJo said…

    My hubby should qualify for sainthood for putting up with me, too. :)
    That being said, he's of the drop it and leave it wherever tribe, which makes cleaning and organizing that much more stressful. I'm hoping I'll be able to keep up on things a little better in the new apartment. It has a lot of storage space, which is great, since my hubby will not throw away any computer or software boxes! I think over half my storage usually goes toward empty boxes. :P

  • At 7:54 AM, June 24, 2006, Blogger Arielle said…

    My husband is a truly messy packrat. Good heavens, the apartment he and his roommate lived in when I first started dating him! Well, I certainly went into the relationship knowing what to expect on that score. That being said, I'm not the cleanest person either. The one area that I've gotten reasonably good with is the kitchen. I discovered that I really like having a reasonably clean kitchen, with the dishes done at least every other day (preferably every day, but I get lazy).

    At least I have my mom for inspiration - she used to be very messy and disorganized, but the last time I visited her in TN, she had everything organized and running smoothly, and her house looked great. *chuckles* Maybe in 20 years I'll have managed to make the same transformation!

  • At 7:55 AM, June 24, 2006, Blogger Arielle said…

    Oh yes, I responded to the comment you'd left on my blog - sorry if it took a while, our internet service was down for a whole week!

  • At 9:36 AM, June 24, 2006, Blogger BoysMom said…

    Oh, that's good to know it's possible to change!

    As long as the packrat isn't of the throw a tantrum if you straighten his stuff up type, you'll probably survive okay.
    Joelle, it sounds like you need to find a way to use those empty boxes to store other stuff in 'temprorarily' until they're needed to collect warrenties or whatever. Canning jars, maybe, or something else that cycles?
    I can't imagine having half the storage full of empty boxes . . . of course, we have almost no storage space anyway.

  • At 1:20 PM, June 26, 2006, Blogger Arielle said…

    Yes, having been witness to my mom's transformation has definitely been encouraging to me!

    As for my husband, he does get upset when I throw something away that he thinks I shouldn't have - but I'm fairly good at shrugging that off. We won't be taking any of it into eternity with us anyway, so I figure I'll let him be the one to be upset and not worry about it myself. =D

  • At 7:39 AM, July 17, 2006, Blogger Serena said…

    Oh my! My ears should have been burning. *grin* I grew up in a messy household and was used to seeing mess. When Rick and I married, he is a cleany and because he doesn't put pressure on me or criticize me, I've been motivated to keep the house clean. He also helps to keep it that way and that helps a lot in motivation. I'm a visually oriented person and a perfectionist, so after it was in good order and clean for a while, I found that my visual orientation had changed and mess that hadn't bothered me much in the past, now does. That is a big key to keeping it up. If you can only keep an area clean for a few weeks, then it will bother you when it isn't.

    I still struggle with teaching the younger ones to keep things in order but don't want them to struggle like Joelle and Arielle do so keep after them. The old adage "A place for everything and everything in its place" is a true one. If you don't have a place for it, then you probably need to get rid of something. We are in a really small place now and it is more crucial than ever to keep things in their place or we would be clutter city in a hurry.

    One thing that we just found to be very helpful for the children's stuff is those plastic drawers on wheels. We got two 3-drawer units and stack them(no wheels on the upper unit) and now they have a place for their stuff. They can wheel the whole thing or take out the drawer and put it back when done. Most families have too much children's stuff and when they have too much stuff, it is hard to teach the children to care for it. Either give it away or pack away at least half of it. You can trade things out every few months and they will play with it like it is new to them when you do. Usually you can get rid of a lot of it and still divide it up and store part of it - especially when they are younger.

    Hey, why hold onto old letters like that anyway? Just pitch them without reading them again and it will be a burden lifted. If she has repented of what she wrote in them, then it will help in the forgiving and forgetting process. Reading them would be like picking a scab off a wound that is not fully healed. Just my opinion, but you will have more space for something else. I have a folder for encouraging notes and letters. The rest is not worth holding onto in this tough world.

    Love and shalom,


Post a Comment

<< Home