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The Sisterhood

November 12, 2009

[This is another essay from the local newspaper column, A Slice of Life, that I write irregularly]

No one has ever accused me of being obsessed with cleanliness. I’ve never been called fastidious. Heck, no one has even suggested that I am neat. And for that reason I was as surprised as anyone would have been to see me doing what I was doing.

Let me back up a bit. I work full-time; have two children, a husband, and a few volunteer responsibilities. I don’t think I’m especially high strung and according to others I appear calm and collected even when I’m not. Of late I have had a perfect storm of little niggly responsibilities on top of my bigger responsibilities and so for this past month, despite outward appearances, I have not been calm and collected. Luckily, I had two days off from work. My plans for those days were to sit in a chair and stare at a wall.

I didn’t stare at a wall. Instead, I cleaned. I didn’t just pick up a couple of odds and ends or do a little laundry. I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the kitchen floor. On my day off.

Part of me thinks that scrubbing the floor (on my hands and knees) (on my day off) is a little sick. Part of me thinks it is virtuous. Part of me thinks it was long overdue and that is why I was doing it – because I knew I wasn’t going to be happy doing anything if I had to look at that floor anymore. And part of me feels like I have been allowed to peek into the clubhouse of a special sisterhood.

This sisterhood is made up of women who actually like to clean. Recently I went to a party where a woman was selling cleaning cloths. These were special microfiber cloths (and yes, I bought some, and yes they work very well), and the saleswoman was enthusiastically describing the wonders of working with these cloths. She said on numerous occasions that women told her the cloths made cleaning fun. I had difficulty with that concept. But all around me were women nodding and excitedly anticipating the cleaning that could be done with these cloths. They are in the sisterhood of which I speak.

Now that I have willingly spent time on my hands and knees scrubbing a kitchen floor when I could have easily and with a guilt-free conscience used that time to read a book for Book Club or to bead or to knit or to stare at the wall, I have a vague sense of what it is like to be in the sisterhood. I won’t go as far as to say the cleaning was fun, but it was satisfying.

No, I am not one of the sisterhood. I did more cleaning, but it was not fun and after I hit a minimal level of acceptable cleanliness I stopped. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means the authorities should be called and 10 means the house could be in a magazine spread, I’d give it a 5.5. The table surfaces were closer to a 4, but the kitchen floor was a 9!

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