Last weekend I cleaned house. And I mean I cleaned house. I did 10 loads of laundry. I dusted all the cabinet doors and the insides of those couple of cabinets that never get used (i.e. the "good" china and stemware). I organized at least 5 rooms. I tossed out broken toys, setting aside those the boys have grown too old for to donate. I sorted through those clothes that I'm probably never going to fit into again, or the ones that made me think "what was I thinking when I bought that?!". I also went to see Breaking Dawn, which was total awesomeness (and I'm gonna go see it again next weekend 'cause I'm that much of a dork - don't judge), and it was also a good break from the cleaning. But when I got home, I cleaned some more. Sinks, and floors, and counter tops. Matching little bitty socks. Clearing out the clothes the kid has grown out of in the last two weeks (seriously, the size 6's only lasted him about 4-5 months!). Cleaning.
Now, I do not love to clean. I often get overwhelmed by the sheer chaos that seems to find certain areas in my house. And it just immobilizes me. I walk into the kitchen when hubby has been cooking - not cleaning at all as he goes - and I simply can't deal with it. It's not like an excuse to just not have to clean. It's more like the inability to deal with the overwhelming chaos of the space. I get that way, too, about my bedroom (when laundry has sat around for a week or two and somehow migrated all over the flippin' place) or the kid's room, when he's shredded some piece of paper all over the place to go with the dirty clothes that seem to refuse to live in the closet as they're supposed to. All of these things just stop me in my tracks, and I have to walk away before I get drawn into the chaos and can never find my way out. Or at least that's what it feels like could happen. (This leaves hubby to deal with these huge messes, though, to be fair to myself, often he's the one who's made them.)
But, sometimes, when the mood hits me, I just gotta clean. I get motivated and it just makes sense to take advantage of it. These are the times when I dust. Or clean windows and mirrors. Or scrub the bathroom floors. Or clean under the beds. Or organize the closets. Most of the time these tasks don't even dawn on me, or I simply shrug the thought off as a task for some mysterious "other day". But on these magical, only come once in a blue mood kind of days, it makes perfect sense to tackle them.
There's a benefit to my cleaning sprees, other than just a significantly cleaner house. As I clean in one of these rare moods, I can feel the stress leaving my body. I don't feel overwhelmed by the chaos around me. I can just move from one thing to another, cleaning without stopping. I am singularly focused, not feeling guilty about the time I should be spending with my children, or the thousands of other things I could be doing. I just clean. And when I'm done...wow. I feel calmer, more composed, and I have a clean house to boot.
My MIL was a bit OCD about the cleaning. Her house was spotless all the time. She spent a lot of time cleaning and cleaning. And most of the time all that time and energy seem to me to have been a waste. But, on days like the one I had this weekend, I understand her a little better. I, too, feel the release of pressure after that ____________ (whatever) has finally been cleaned. I, too, feel the sense of relief and lowered stress. Now, I wish I had these spurts of cleaning more often sometimes, but then I remember how much time she truly did focus on the cleaning and I'm relieved to have them hit only every so often.
Today's lesson - sometimes insight into another person hits at the oddest moment. But what a gift it is to understand someone else a bit better.