Two Weeks

Every other Thursday, the cleaning service arrives.

We cleaned the house ourselves for a lot of years, but gradually came to realize that wasn’t working for anyone. Trying to clean when Clay is at home is like trying to rake leaves during a hurricane. In the end, the hurricane is going to win and you are going to feel silly for even trying.

If you can’t clean when Clay is home, that means you have to clean during the precious quiet hours when he is at school or camp. Not an option. Those hours are gold. As untouchable as the Crown Jewels under armed guard in the Tower of London.

So, the cleaning service comes. An investment in sanity. There are four, sometimes five, chattering ladies, and they sweep through the house in a little over an hour, while the dog and I huddle in my upstairs office.

Then we hear them close the back door, and we tiptoe downstairs to bask in the clutter-less glory. Counters are clear and clean. The toilet paper rolls are back on their holders. The sofa pillows are carefully arranged and fluffed. The sofas and chairs are in their normal places. The fingerprints and spilled juice are gone from the coffee table. The relentless corner crumbs that don’t even interest the dog or the ants have been vacuumed away. Four-hundred random Clay socks gathered from under furniture are stacked in a neat pile. The floors are still damp and shiny. It all smells as fresh and piney as a mountain meadow. Adam and Eve never beheld such sun-dappled magnificence.

For a few amazing moments, the little man inside me with the white coat and clipboard who craves order, who can’t sleep at night if there are dirty dishes in the sink, who lines up the burgers on the barbecue in neat rows of four, who feels calmer when everything is in its place, comes out to bask in the stillness. “Aaaah,” he sighs, as he takes it all in, wandering from room to room.

A few hours later Clay’s bus will honk at the curb. The smiling face and pounding feet and busy hands will swoop in, whooping and squawking and rolling around on the floor wrapped tightly in a comforter. The happy bull will burst into the just-cleaned china shop, spreading his warm glow in the only way he can.

Two weeks. In two weeks, the quiet, the orderliness will be back. For a little while. Can’t wait.

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