Old Fashioned and Apparently Cursed

>> Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Many times upon a time, a long, long time ago, I used to sit and watch my mother scrub our kitchen floor on her hands and knees. Well, let's be truthful ... she was on her posterior because my mom has bad knees, and she was never on her knees for more than the time it took to say "Ouch." But, scrubbing a floor on your hands and knees sounds a bit more noble (and likely) then saying, "scrubbing the floor while sitting on it indian style and sliding across it on your bum." (Oh, and this was the 70's so we were still allowed to say "indian style." "Criss-cross applesauce" wasn't invented yet.) Not only did she wipe it up with soap and water, she scratched off all the tar stains and other gunk with her fingernails. (Dedication, I tell ya, dedication.)

Then, as a present, the family got together and bought mom a few visits from a cleaning service. She enjoyed the freedom and kept the service up herself for awhile. Cleaning services never, ever, ever scrub floors with anything but a broom, mop, or one of those floor cleaning sponge mops they advertise on TV. Then one day, someone spilled something, and mom bent over to clean it up. One spill led to a revelation that there was some dirt or dust or something, so she cleaned a little further. Before very many minutes had passed, Mom decided that the cleaning service's method stunk, and the floor wasn't clean at all, and she sat down and did the whole thing herself.

Before I go any further, I think I should probably mention that the linoleum on our kitchen floor in that house probably took up a space about 8 feet by 8 feet.

So, that was the end of the cleaning service. When I grew up and got a kitchen of my own, I was never so determined, or patient enough, to scrub a floor on my hands and knees. Heck, I was lucky to actually bother to "scrub" a floor. I owned a squeegie mop and that was it. Sometimes I used it ... most of the time I was too busy to remember where the kitchen was.

Then, the world changed. I decided to have a baby, so we needed to start using the kitchen. Feeding any child on carpet is a dangerous activity. Then someone had to clean up under Toddler's high chair, and no squeegie mop is going to get all those crumbs, no sir, no how. So, it all started with me, a paper towel, some water, and some post-meal high chair cleaning. At that moment I realized how much fuzziness and cat hair becomes visible from the view of 6 inches when it is decidedly invisible at the view of 5+ feet. Still, the floor relied on brooms and mops -- none of this hand cleaning stuff. Then Toddler learned to eat table foods, and cleaning under the high chair became a daily activity. I was annoyed by this because I felt like no one else was cleaning up the floor -- just me, every morning, as part of my routine. Then DH mentioned that he was wiping the floor ... on occasion ... after meals. I didn't believe him, so I decided to test the theory. I wiped the floor under the high chair after every meal, three times a day, just to prove a point.

Well, I proved a point all right. I proved that dirt, dust, and cat hair grow under high chairs at an alarming rate. They seem to follow the food particles. Then the blinders came off, and I looked at the entire floor from the 6 inch level, and I cringed. Mom was right. Nothing beats a good hands and knees scrubbing. So, one day (the day I posted about wanting to be rescued by a fairy godmother), I scrubbed the entire floor and the walls on my hands and knees, using paper towels and clorox scrubbing wipes. The amount of dirt was scary, scary, scary. Even scarier, though, was that two days later every bit of it was back.

Sad to say, I became fixated, and I wipe up that floor from one end to the other at least every other day, sometimes more often. It has become a new kind of sick addiction, and when I don't do it I can imagine I feel particles under my feet while I type these blogs. Now, I don't do the kind of scrubbing I did that first day, but I feel like if I keep up with the wiping, then every so often a good squeegy-ing will do the trick to help keep it nice and fresh.

So here I am, feeling a sense of accomplishment. I've given up my life on the dark side, at least as far as the kitchen floor is concerned, and I've returned to my mother's tried and true method of cleaning. Mom was right all along, and her way is the only and best way to keep a house clean. I thought briefly that maybe this was a little bit much given that I seem to have one and a half times as much floor as she did, maybe twice as much, but all to a good end, right?

Last week I visited with her and mentioned that I'd started wiping (not scrubbing, wiping) the kitchen floor every day on my hands and knees.

You know what she said?

"Oh, isn't that awful? Why do you do that?"


WriterGrrl February 4, 2010 at 4:27 PM  

I totally, totally miss the days when I was blind to dirt. I don't know what it was that made me start noticing it....

Karin February 6, 2010 at 7:20 PM  

Well, I started one day thinking that if I could begin in one corner, and work my way outward, I might be able to impose order on the chaos that was all around me... and it spiraled from there. Now I seem to be stuck in a bad loop.

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