Tuesday, January 7, 2014


If you know me at all, you know how much I despise cleaning. I absolutely loathe it. I would rather stick needles into my eyes than organize my closet and I'd prefer to throw important documents in the trash than file them away where they can be found if I'm ever audited. Don't get me wrong, I HATE having a messy house and I can't stand looking at clutter. I just want someone else to take care of making it all look pretty. Luckily I married the most anal-retentive, obsessively clean, overwhelmingly neat straight man I've ever met and my "I'll run behind you with a vacuum and a dust cloth" mom comes by to help me organize the big stuff once a year, or whenever she can't stand looking at it anymore. It's not that I'm lazy; I just have strengths in other areas. I'll cook you the tastiest homemade baked ziti with sautéed green beans and fresh garlic bread, followed by a batch of insanely delicious chocolate mousse, from scratch.

Just don't ask me to do the dishes.

Armed with this information, you'll understand the confusion I felt when I had a sudden urge to grab the Swiffer from the laundry room closet, dust it off, start yelling at Jimmi about dog hair all over the kitchen floor, and go to town mopping it up. He watched me with wide eyes and a gaping jaw as I moved the handled pad around, under tables and chairs and counters, ripping off the used, dusty, hair-filled cloths, one after another and sticking them under his nose asking, "See? SEE?"

When I finished the kitchen floor I moved on to the family room. I plopped down onto my hands and knees, peered under the couch and started pulling out dog toys, cat toys and Legos. "Does anyone ever look under here?!" I screeched with that "Mommy's had it up to here" tone. Jimmi didn't know whether to laugh at me or run from the house screaming, but he chose to face my wrath, head on. "Relax! We'll take care of it!" But he had to leave for the gym a few minutes later and I was so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of cleaning and organizing I wanted to do RIGHT NOW that I just froze up and couldn't get myself to do anything at all. "We can do it together when I get home," Jimmi assured me. "Don't worry!"

So I let it sit for a few more hours.

I was sure the urge to purge everything from my house would dissipate as quickly as it had hit me but it didn't. I found myself counting the minutes until Jimmi reappeared so we could eat a quick dinner and get started. But first, we needed supplies. Off to Lowes! We scoured the aisles, filling our cart with paper towels, bleach, a new Swiffer mop, a Swiffer duster, Windex and, most importantly, a Dyson vacuum made especially for picking up pet hair. The cashier rang up the hefty purchase and I joked that my credit card company would be calling soon to check if my card had been stolen due to unusual activity. I never hear from them when I purchase a new Louis Vuitton bag, but a truckload of cleaning supplies from Lowes might raise a few red flags on my account.

After dinner I elected to start in the master bathroom, which hadn't had a good cabinet cleaning in at least a year. Jimmi decided to get rid of empty boxes in the storage area of the basement to make room for anything we needed to move down there. Unfortunately for them, Dylan and Justin were at my house this past weekend and not their dad's. That meant handing them a box of huge, black garbage bags and sending them into the basement to clean out their toy and game closet and their art supplies pantry.

With the men downstairs and out of sight, I headed up to my bathroom with determination. I opened the cabinet under my sink, let out an audible whine and closed it again. I stood there for a few minutes, assessing the job in front of me. I'm really not a Take Charge type of woman when it comes to cleaning. What I need is someone to take everything out, hold it up and say, "yes or no?" I'm really good at making the decision to toss away the junk, I'm just not good at getting started. Another whine and a loud sigh and I was on my way to the basement to see how the boys were doing.

Jimmi was cutting and tying up cardboard for recycling and the boys were emptying the game closet, seemingly doing more reminiscing about their old toys than getting rid of anything. An invisible force took over my body and I pushed past Dylan and positioned myself in the large, three-shelved closet. "Here," I said to my older son as I handed him a garbage bag. "Hold this." I went to town pulling out each board game and puzzle I found and asking, "Is it missing any pieces?" If the answer was "yes" the box went right into the black abyss, if it was "no" I assessed the age level of the toy and instructed Justin to put it in either the "Keep" or "Donate" pile. I was a wild woman and emptied and categorized all five gazillion items in the closet in about fifteen minutes. Two full garbage bags, 6 games to donate and 20 games to wipe down and put neatly back on the shelves later, we were ready to move on to the art closet. "Justin, take everything out of there so we can look at it." He moved at a snail's pace, clearly showing that his enthusiasm for cleaning was inherited from his mom. "Let's go!" I snapped and he got his little butt in gear. Unusable paints, dried clay, hard and crumbly Play-Doh, half-peeled stickers, fake tattoos and capless markers were dumped out of perfectly good storage containers, right into a black plastic grave. Two more bags were tied up and ready to go, leaving the entire closet empty, minus a bin filled with colored pencils and crayons. "I'm gonna put my game stuff in there!" Dylan announced, moving Xbox 360 accessories from the couch and the floor into the newly functional closet.

Getting there!

I looked around at the piles of Legos in different areas of the large, finished basement. I hate Legos. They're everywhere in my house and they make my life Hell. "Mom! He broke my Lego car and I worked FOREVER on it!" "Mom! I'm missing ONE piece in my 738093248 piece set and I can't finish it!" "Mom! Where can I put this gigantic, useless, Lego Star Wars spaceship so I can save it forever and ever?" "Mom! The dog swallowed my Lego piece and I NEEEEEEDED that one!" And then I remembered all the other sets and random pieces strewn all over the playroom on the mail floor of the house and visions of a 6 month-old baby finding and choking on one of them sent my heart into palpitations. "I have an idea!" I announced. "I think we should make the basement the Man Cave." All three of my boys, the young ones and the tattooed one, looked up at me for clarification. "How about we move all of your stuff down here and make it a baby-free zone?" Three instantaneous smiles wrapped around their faces and Dylan let out a, "Really?" I nodded, proud of my decision, and a little annoyed at myself for not coming up with it sooner. It just makes sense. Jimmi and Justin's drums are in the basement and Dylan plays Xbox on the big TV down there. The only time I descend the stairs is to tell them it's time to come up and eat. It's the perfect solution to get their choking hazards out of little Aria's grasp. By the way, I love that I can call her by her name. Anyway, the boys deserve their own space. They're getting older and they'll need to escape the craziness that will be coming in less than five months. We've already started redecorating their rooms to transition them from the Batman and Spider-Man themes of their little boyhoods, but having the basement to "hang out" will be special for them and it made them happy.

Ten points for Mom!

When Jimmi and the boys finished their tasks and the closets were closed and the empty bins were stored, Jimmi put the new vacuum together and I went to work on the carpet, which looked as if the entire house had exploded onto it. "No way!" Jimmi exclaimed as he grabbed his phone to take a video of his spoiled wife doing housework and send it to my mom, who would never have believed it otherwise. And, I'll admit, it wasn't that bad. Actually felt great to look at it when it was all done.

But that was just the basement.

The next night Jimmi and I tackled the master bathroom together. Melted candles were tossed, empty shampoo bottles were dumped and feminine products, which I haven't needed since my hysterectomy in 2011, were finally discarded for good. Memories, that were better left repressed, resurfaced as I emptied drawers filled with wig tape, synthetic hair shampoo and countless headbands I had to wear when my post-chemo hair was in its awkward in-between phase after it started growing back. I contemplated keeping some of the bands then shook my head emphatically, as if to ward off the evil cancer spirits, and dropped them all into the bag. I don't know how a bathroom could take so long but, two hours later, we finally wiped the last counter clean and shut the lights.


But we have so much more to do! This need to clean isn't waning and I've figured out the reason.

I'm nesting.

For those of you who are new to the term, nesting is a phenomenon shared by expectant mothers all over the world as they prepare to bring a new baby into their home. I brushed it off at first, thinking 21 weeks of gestation was way too early to start this task but, seeing how long it took to clean a basement and a bathroom, I'm glad the urge came on halfway through the pregnancy and not a month before the due date. I'm just gonna need to warn Jimmi not to get used to the new me. Once this house is torn apart and put back together again, my cleaning days are over! ;)


  1. So happy to hear that all of your post-chemo supplies have been tossed. Good riddance!!

  2. Omg your just like me lol show me easy yes no donate throw out !!! & lego all 4 boys love it but if i find it on the floor it belings to me! Aka the bin!!
    Its hard throwing out items that you held onto so tight. I have most of my stuff packed away...
    Nesting for sure :-)