Saturday, April 28, 2007

Spring Cleaning for Obsessives

Published April 28, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Happy April! How's the Spring Cleaning going?

I wonder what it is about spring that makes a person want to clean. I had previously thought "Spring Cleaning" was an arbitrary thing imposed by mean mothers who want to deprive their children of the joys of playing outside on the most beautiful days of the year. 10 years of motherhood and the 10 springs that have come along with it, I realize it's actually an instinct imbedded within my being--probably on a cellular level. It's spring...time to smell flowers, dance in rain showers, and clean the house for hours.

I've decided there is one problem with this type of cleaning. It snowballs. A mom in the midst of spring cleaning is like a socialite with a trust fund in the middle of an outlet mall. "I'll take that...and that...and that..." You start cleaning and in the process of cleaning you realize how much more you have to clean. Pretty soon, you're buried under a metaphorical mountain of housework desire. "I'll clean that...and that...and that..."

Case in point: About six springs ago, I decided to buy a commercial spot remover and claim victory over the dirty spots on my living room carpet. Upon cleaning my first spot, I was amazed, nay, ASTONISHED at the cleaning power of this product. The spot I was working on was gone, revealing the original vibrant, forest green carpet beneath. I was in awe! I was overjoyed! I was ready to sing the praises of this product to everyone I knew. And then I looked at the rest of the floor.

For about an hour and a half, I attacked spot after spot after spot, each time marveling at the ease in which I was able to uncover the true beauty of that carpet. Stepping back to survey my work, I was aghast to realize that where I formerly had a dirty carpet marked by even dirtier spots, I was now looking at a dirty carpet speckled with clean spots. An hour and a half of my life and all I gained was a new desire to rent a carpet cleaner and attack it all.

I am a list maker, and the sight of my spring cleaning list is like a crazy, blurry portrait of my delusions of housework grandeur. My list for today looks like this: organize all the closets in the house, sort through clothes and donate, label and alphabetize VHS tapes, wash windows, reorganize camping gear, defrost the chest freezer, file all my bills and receipts, give myself an exfoliating facial, color my hair, and write the great American novel.

You laugh because you think I'm joking.

What I predict will happen today is that halfway through the first closet, I'll realize I've been wading through mattress pads, gloves, hats, crutches, and board games for seven hours straight. Will that discourage me? Of course not. When I'm on a cleaning kick, the reality of the situation is not important. I'm like the kid who wants to be a firefighter/dentist/pediatrician/ballerina/superhero/garbage collector. Why not, right?

It will be interesting to see how much actually gets done. My greatest fear is that I will give up after realizing the deluded error of my ways and not much of anything will get done. Okay...that's my second greatest fear. My greatest fear is that my lifeless body will be found in a few days, crushed under the weight of sleeping bags and frozen meat.

Those fears notwithstanding, I will be diving into Spring Cleaning...perhaps with a more manageable list. Or maybe I will just see it as a "Reach for the stars to capture the moon" kind of thing and know that I will get more done than I might have without all my high hopes.

Of course, once I've captured the moon, I'm just going to realize it needs to be swept.