mopping woman

Ned’s parents are visiting for the weekend. They will be staying in our house for the first time. So it’s a pretty big in-laws-in-the-house-nervousness rite of passage for me. We’ve been doing a lot of cleaning.

One might call it a cleaning FRENZY.

Ned’s mother has notably higher standards of cleanliness than me. For instance, before hosting a party, she likes to be sure the windows have been washed. I, on the other hand, am just trying to make sure all my piles are neatly stacked.

So this was a pretty big week for us. It started with the cleansing of the magazine baskets on Sunday. By Tuesday I had laundered all sheets and towels and actually put all my clothes away. Last night, Ned miraculously rearranged our wee closet/garage/office to make it more closely resemble an office (office/closet). He washed windows and scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom. I dusted places I had never dusted before, swept and mopped several times (doubling the number of times I have *ever* mopped some of those wooden floors). We vacuumed at 12:30 a.m. It was literally back-wrenching: my back is seriously sore today from mopping.

An aside: after reading a NYTimes article this week hailing push-ups as the ultimate sign of health, I decided it was time to develop a push-up regimen. Later that day, Ned and I stopped to drop 20 in one of our regular lunchtime runs on the mall, and I discovered I could not reach the push-up standard for a 40-year-old woman. I declared a need for more upper-body workouts. Last night, my arms and back aching from mopping, Ned pointed out to me: “You don’t need to do push-ups or weights, just mop more.” Thanks. Maybe someday I can also incorporate baby-carrying for the ultimate Mom/Housewife-look-at-these-guns arms.

Back to the cleaning frenzy. The house looks significantly better than it did before. You would think that I would feel quite satisfied. But no. The dirty spots in the house stick out all the more. I was aghast to discover a small pile of dust in a corner this morning.

As we prepare to enter Holy Week in the church calendar, the world is heavy with symbolism for me. So, this morning, on hands and knees picking at dirt spots, I found myself thinking: “I suppose this is like Lent.” We throw things out, we strip things down, we fast, we pray: “Lord, cleanse me, a sinner.” We attempt to sin less. And our sins become even more apparent in the process.

Forgive me.