Friday, December 5, 2008

I am learning to let go ....

I was brought up in a house which was spotlessly clean. Guests flowed in any time of the day and were welcomed to a warm lovely house which made them relax instantly. My mother always believed in "Cleanliness is next to Godliness". Dad fully supported this idea. When I was young, I shared the room with my sister and grandparents. Dad always spread the mattresses / beds out and ensured that there was not a single crease after the sheets were set. Our blankets were neatly set. We promptly fell asleep with the ceiling fan running full speed. Dad again folded back everything and neatly arranged them in the cupboard.
My mom never hired a maid because she was never satisfied with the quality of work done by any one of them. My sister and I always asked her to hire some help ... but she wouldn't. Even today, she does everything herself from mopping, washing, sweeping to cooking. Having grown up in a house where cleanliness was top priority, I have felt strongly about it.

On the other hand, BP comes from exactly opposite background. I was surprised when I stayed in my in-laws house for the first time. The maid came in the morning, washed some utensils and left without mopping or sweeping since most folks were still asleep. The dried clothes were left on the terrance and no one had bothered to bring them back and fold them. The washed utensils were left on the dining table and were used directly from that place. No one kept it back in the kitchen ... I observed many other things which were totally different from the way I was brought up. I did not reason with them and tried to do some chores myself ... but then again they wouldn't allow me to do anything since I was the new bride.

When I came to live in the US, I found it extremely difficult during the initial days to manage all chores by myself. It irked me when BP threw a wet towel on the bed or walked into the bed room with shoes on. Later I learnt the reason why cleaning was not priority in BP's place. Until the time BP was 13, they had stayed in joint family of about 25 members, in a 2 bedroom house. They were not financially well off and each adult tried to work and contribute to the family. While the men went out to work, some of the women tried to stitch, grind coffee and earn some money. My MIL along with her MIL (BP's grandma) cooked for everyone. There were about 10 kids of various ages moving in and around the house. No matter how much they tried they could never keep the house clean. And they got adjusted to this way of living. So even when they separated out of the joint family, cleanliness never come to them as it had not become a habit.

Why now all this ramblings about cleanliness ... well, with spending time with kids, office work, cooking etc cleaning seems to have taken a back seat in our house these days. Its not like we are living in a junkyard of a house ... but it is not the same it used to be. I can occasionally see a bag of un-ironed clothes in the cupboard, couple of dishes in the sink, toys in the kids' room and the biggest culprit ... MAILS .... they are on the kitchen counter !!!!!!
It used to be extremely irritating and I'd yell at BP and sometimes at Cantaloupe too .... I wanted a spotlessly clean home and could hardly keep one. No matter how much I tried, either there was not enough time OR I'd be exhausted to do it myself. (BP pitched in ... but then someone was to take care of the kids and he would end up doing that most of the times) Then one day BP reminded me that though our house was not perfect, it was still our home where we needed to RELAX and enjoy as a family. I thought about it for few days and started believing in what he said.
Now, I still try to keep the house clean ... but the occasional wet towel on the bed OR the small truck under the stairs no longer irritate me ... I am learning to let go.

15 comments:

noon said...

I admire people who can keep it spotlessly clean. I keep it clean - people often tell me when they visit - wow you keep it so clean - but then they are visitors - so I clean before they come - even otherwise I try to keep it clean but not spotless. I do let go of toys under the stairs etc because every other second I have to clean those. I clean once for all at night - that too not exhaustively. With two kids and husband working long hours there is only so much time to go around to do spotless cleaning. So I let go here and there. If not I clean and clean and get bitter that there is no breathing time at all. Wow 25 people in two bed house - those days it was really something isn't it? We would have no tolerance for such things now. I wish we had that level of tolerance now...

Pixie said...

I would love to keep a spotlessly clean home... but, with work and commute and other chores... it gets sidelined... but, I do try to keep the house clean, if not spotless. :)

~nm said...

This sounded so much like my story. I was very particular in the initial year of my married life. But slowly over the years I've also learnt to let go. Because I would keep fretting that my house can never be fully clean because for hubby it was not a priority thing. And I would get so stressed out and yell at everyone and it would turn into ugly fights. So slowly over the years I've also learnt to not be finicky about things being in order.

And now there are days when my house looks like a tornado hit it! :) So this means you are still doing a better job than me :D

Have fun and yes RELAX!!

Ruvi said...

CA…I am exactly the opposite of you, I guess J. My mil stays with us and she is obsessed with cleanliness to the core. It freaks me out to the extent that when I go back home after work, I just want to scatter my daughter’s toys all around the house!

First time commenting here…and it’s nice to have a peep into your household J

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

@Noon: Ah the visitor visit and the mega cleaning program I make ... uff ... its really tiring.
And the joint family system that worked earlier ... just cannot imagine the same in today's world. The adjustments that people made during that time was truly commendable.

@ Pixie: Same here Pixie ... add to that 2 kids and No Maid.

@nm: Oh nm tell me about those "Keeping house clean arguments" ... its was really stressful. Thankfully I am learning to let go ... though I have to make conscious effort sometimes.

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

@Ruvi: Welcome !!
Hmm... so you are opposite of me ??? Ah well ... I bet you don't want your house dirty ... just that you don't want anyone to stress you to do it ... right?

Anonymous said...

CA,

Oh I hear you....I used to be obsessed with cleaning, pre-kids. Now, not so much. I did find that it was worth my sanity to get outside help with cleaning, especially laundry - as otherwise weekends were just getting consumed by chores, leaving no time for winding down. Worth the expense, in my book.

As for tidiness, eh...I figure he house will be tidy enough once teh kdis grow up and leave...not that it prevents me from throwing a fit every so often and yelling at people to put things away :-)

For the mail clutter, the ONLY thing that works, IMO, is daily sorting - we dump junk mail as soon as we bring it in. We have a shredder by the counter, and promptly shred the credit card offers and such. Bills to be paid are put into a separate container. If this is not done, the mail just piles up - one week's worth of mail is enough to overwhelm me!

M

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

@M: The daily sorting certainly helps ... only it has to become a habit which is what is not happening in our house :(

Anonymous said...

CA,

heh, let the mail pile up for a couple of weeks...if you're anything like me, the resulting rise in BP will cause it to become a habit, FAST! :-) :-)

M

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

@M: My BP rises ever so regularly :(

trying2beperfectmom said...

Very nice post,I can relate to it. Iam reasonably clean, but learnt not to judge people when I see a house that is not clean or feel guilty when I see a spotless house. I just think it is a matter of priorities.

Pixie said...

You have an award awiting you! Please pick it up :-)

Aryan said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR CA

Aryan said...

Happy new year

 

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