I’ve sometimes wondered if I was switched at birth. My mom can’t sit still, and I’m really good at it. My mom has something in her that makes her, not only really good at deep cleaning, but also I think it might be a deep-seated NEED to do it, and I don’t have that. At all.
My mom’s sister, Aunt Peggy, was the same way. When they would both wind up at their mother’s house (my grandma’s) at the same time, they would turn into whirling dervishes. They would talk and laugh while they cleaned like they were having fun or something. My grandma could not have cared less about any of it (which was probably why her daughters did).
On one such occasion, my mom and my aunt were elbows deep in the kitchen, and Grandma and I were sitting in the living room talking and catching up. All of a sudden, Grandma glanced over at the kitchen crew, looked back at me and said, “I don’t know what I ever did to deserve kids like this.” I was thinking, “Awwww, how sweet!” And then I saw the look on Grandma’s face. Apparently that’s not the way she meant it. I cracked up.
So maybe I wasn’t switched at birth. Maybe that particular gene, like so many, skips a generation. I only clean when I’m stressed. Judging by the state of my house, I’m a pretty happy person normally. In 2010, my grandma and my half-sister died 10 days apart; I cleaned so much that I ran out of things so I went through the attic. Same thing happened in 2020 with covid.
The other day our yoga teacher mentioned spring cleaning and how it fulfills that human need for rejuvenation. A fresh start. Hope. I had never really thought of the spiritual and emotional side of it, but it makes sense.
Maybe this is part of my problem, but in my mind spring cleaning has always had more of a “get-rid-of-stuff” feeling. Clean out closets. Purge. Edit. There are 100 different words for it. After all, decluttering and organizing is big business. Professional organizing is a 12 billion dollar industry, with storage units coming in at almost a 40 billion dollar industry. That’s a lot of stuff.
Decluttering guru Marie Kondo says if it doesn’t “spark joy” you should get rid of it. What if the whole process sparks anxiety? Many theories believe the number one reason we hang onto stuff is for sentimental reasons, followed by the fact that we worry we might need it, or we feel guilty either because of the person who gave it to us or how much we spent so much on it. The reason that surprised me was that we attach hopes and dreams to stuff.
Because the idea of decluttering seemed a little daunting, I looked up the history of spring cleaning. I was hoping to get the renewal without actually having to do the work - Grandma would be proud. Besides a biological reason we are prone to cleaning in the spring, I found all kinds of history behind it dating back to the Israelites leaving Egypt.
After reading all of that, I felt inspired to give it a try. I saw somewhere you’re supposed to start at the top down and work your way down. I swept the floor first, and maybe that was my downfall.
So despite the experts and their theories of guilt and fear, I’m sticking with the idea that I’m not stressed enough for spring cleaning. I’ll look for my rejuvenation outside in the garden. That seems like a much better plan.
But if you feel you must scrub your house from top to bottom, remember the adage…. Open your windows and shake out the dust - but be careful not to sweep away good luck. For me, I'm not going to risk it.
Happy Cleaning! (Or not!)