Cleaning House, by Libby Moore

Our eighteen-year-old granddaughter is coming to visit this week, the first time she’s come by herself since she was seven or eight, and we’re really excited. I wanted to get her room tidied up and ready for her, which has led to days of scrubbing and washing curtains and getting rid of ancient dust bunnies in every room in the house. The truth is, I hate house cleaning, which is why it so rarely gets done and why it’s taking so long now, getting into the nooks and crannies that have been long neglected.

The thing about housecleaning is that nobody notices unless it’s not clean. When there are cobwebs in the corners, fingerprints on the woodwork and grime on the windowsills, people notice. When it’s sparkling clean, that’s the way it should be, and it’s taken for granted. I notice dirt but my husband doesn’t – as long as the house is reasonably tidy, he thinks it’s fine. It’s one of our minor continuing arguments. I get aggravated at feeling pressured to take care of it, but put it off and put it off.

It’s one of those things where I know there’s more I should do but I don’t get around to it, like so much of the work I should be doing in the world. I’m in an odd space just now, trying to figure out what that work should be. In May I completed five years of work that I loved, mentoring teachers of young children. But the grant ran out, so there’s no more work. I’ve been enjoying a real summer vacation but I haven’t quite figured out what comes next, what the fall will bring. I do know that I need to do something of use in the world. For now, I’m trying to live quietly and listen for what comes, believing, as the Quakers say, that “way opens.”

And so here I am as I wait, washing windows and vacuuming the ceilings, doing work that nobody will notice. Because it’s the right thing to do. Gotta get back to it – I’m not done yet.

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