One of my kids, I won’t mention which one, recently saw a news report that stated there have been new studies revealing that household cleaning supplies have a greater possibility of a carcinogenic effect on individuals than originally thought! This news flash instilled immediate fear in this child and “SHE” said I’ve got to call the other two siblings; we’re going to die!
She knows I use this time of year to engage everyone in a ritual we have all heard of and I really live for which is “Spring Cleaning.” I wait until after Easter; I don’t want to seem too eager. Gotta play the cool card, even when cleaning is involved. I’m not going to lie, her revelation startled me a little as I pretty much have a Windex bottle attached to my right hand at all times. It is like an accessory to me, my watch and my Windex bottle. My family members are familiar with that yummy Windex taste and have actually grown to like it. I tell them, just as my father told me, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
Many nights, being the multi-tasker that I am, I would be Windexing one of their spots at the table as the other one was still eating and the latter would say, “Mom, you just sprayed Windex on my food.” I would respond with, “Oh, a little Windex never hurt anyone; this particular Windex even has a little vinegar in it so it can’t be that bad for you.” It hasn’t appeared to stunt any of their growths, especially the boys, and they really appear to be three very well rounded kids. The occasional twitch and loss of hair…just kidding.
I was raised by a grandmother and a mother who were obsessed with cleaning. My grandmother did spring cleaning year round. Every occasion was a reason to spring clean. I remember when we would be taking the Christmas decorations down and Virgie, my maternal grandmother, who lived in the house with us would say, “Let’s spring clean before we put the furniture back and let’s straighten the attic before we put the decorations back up there.” Even at an early age, before I was required to help, I thought it was odd to do your spring cleaning in December. Oh, my mom would start taking the Christmas tree down at midnight on Christmas Day. Yes sir, at one minute after midnight, that tree was coming down. That holiday was over, donezo, finished and it was time for the tree to come down.
For years my poor dad would try to argue that many people kept their tree up for “the holidays” which included New Years. She would look at him as if he had lost his mind. She would say, “What? Who leaves the tree up that long, not us!” That tree was coming down. It was see what Santa brought, yes, he still comes to our house, slam down some egg nog, visit with family members you only see once a year and wham bam take the tree down! My mom would happily agree and be so excited that everyone wanted to help. I think to this day she has no idea that we all dreaded the taking down of the tree activity, but it was a necessity to get to the end results. So down it came and spring cleaning would begin!
That cleaning would be moving all the furniture to the center of the room, cleaning baseboards, window sills, ceiling fan blades and on and on and on. Now, my mother really wasn’t the “Mommy Dearest” type, but she did love to see vacuum cleaner marks on a rug. So, as you can imagine, a good bit of that was instilled in me and my only sibling, a younger brother. One time my brother actually told my husband that the bathroom garbage can was not the place for an empty Doritos’ bag. He proceeded to call me and inform me that my husband needed to learn what trash went in the kitchen garbage can and what trash went in the bathroom garbage can. And people think we have it all together! My husband came in and looked at me and said, “Your family has issues.” Of course I responded with, “What was your first clue?” He continued, “Your brother is as bad as you are.” I had a confused look on my face, and he recanted the story to me. He said, “He really got mad at me because I didn’t put the appropriate trash in the appropriate can.” I just laughed and said, “You can thank my mom for that.”
Which if you haven’t realized this…Your kids are typically mirror images of you. If you aren’t happy with the kids, take a step back and look at your own life. Sometimes, my grandmother would tell us she wanted the house to have that fresh air smell and it could be January and 20 degrees outside and she would have all the windows open. That is one policy I have not adopted! I can walk around and spray the house with Febreze and it gives the same fresh air effect but then that brings us right back to that carcinogenic thing again!
SJ, being the smart kid, tells me there are all kind of nontoxic products I can buy. He also looked at me and said and I quote, “Have you every just tried using hot water to clean with?” What a smart kid…that would seem like a pretty simple thing. I wish I had thought of it myself. So this has all given me cause to first, rethink my cleaning products and procedures. I will probably have to have therapy over cutting back on my Windex usage, but if my family’s health is at stake, I can endure a few counseling sessions.
Second, I decided I needed to apply this spring cleaning approach to my life as well. We’ve talked about who we can help, ways to help, everyone has the ability to help in some form or fashion, where to help…the idea of constantly trying to do what’s right is something that should never change, regardless of the time or place, but spring does seem like a good time to house clean the body and soul as well as our living room. It’s a time we can sweep the front porch of our minds, knock the cobwebs down in the brain, sharpen our thoughts. People often ask me for advice or an opinion. I think many times they really don’t want an answer; they just want me to listen to their story….I try to engage with them and not just look like a bobble head on SJ’s dresser. This, maybe is a time to evaluate if we are on the right path, headed in the right direction. We don’t want to be a bobble head, stiff, out of touch, insincere. No, we want to be a real emotional human being who invests in others. All of this truly makes a difference to someone.
So yes, it is spring! The trees are budding; the daffodils are popping up; the birds are beginning to chirp. It is my favorite season of the year, not because my grandmother or my mom taught me to be excited to clean but because the challenge of life hopefully takes on a new meaning for you. Life is not easy! Life’s not fair! Life can be so cold, hard and cruel sometimes! Hopefully, you will use this spring to be the budding tree to someone. You will be the flower that pops up from the cold hard ground to make a difference to someone. You will be the bird chirping that someone hears and knows there is hope for them. Use life as a chance to grow a soul. Remember the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror for a reason. Looking ahead is so much more important than looking back. So with spring upon us and summer quickly approaching, don’t make the cleaning ritual seasonal. Make it timeless!
Photo credit by: Chealion
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @LeighAnneTuohy and play #TuohyTrivia on Tuesdays for a chance to win a $25 donation to the charity of your choice for answering the question correctly. Learn more about my family’s charity at The Making It Happen Foundation.
Miss one of my previous posts? You can view them all HERE