Friday Zen

When it comes to cleaning the house I’m the guy. It’s something I’ve always done in the marriage. My wife isn’t much of a picker upper. Her superpowers lie elsewhere, like with dealing with school volunteering, budgeting, and dealing with the kids Dr. appointments. Me? I buy the groceries, cook the meals, pay the bills, take care of the lawn, and am the cleaning service for a wife and kids that, well, aren’t. Laundry? I’d say we split that right down the middle.

I grew up with a stay-at-home mom, and as a kid that was sick a lot. So I spent many days at home with mom and would see her routine, which was sweeping, dusting, and generally picking up the house on the regular. I think maybe I’d become addicted to the smell of Lemon Pledge. Or the shine it put on the end tables in the living room. I had pretty serious dust and cat allergies as a kid. The cat thing we could control by just not being around felines, but the dust thing couldn’t be avoided. My mom would dust pretty regularly, which put it in my head that dusting was important. I always kept my room pretty neat and tidy, and as I got older I would rearrange my bedroom a lot(my mom would move the living room around a lot, too.) I liked seeing how many ways I could move my bunk bed, desk, and dresser drawer around in my pretty small room. The answer? About three different ways. I liked waking up after a night of rearranging and having that few seconds as I opened my eyes to breaking light where I didn’t know where I was, only to then remember “Hey, I moved the room around last night.” I was easily amused, what can I say?

As I got older and became a teenager with not much of a social life Friday night became the time of the week where I cleaned my room. Dust the furniture, pick up the dirty clothes, and run the sweeper. Afterwards, I’d put on the newest music obsession in my boom box, turn the overhead light off and just have my desk lamp on. In my little freshly cleaned world I felt like I was in my own little apartment, chilling on the bed and listening to Van Halen’s Women and Children First while waiting to hear that the pizza was ready from my mom. I was a worried kid sometimes, always on high alert for some reason out in the world. Those Friday cleaning sessions followed by chilling on the bed and listening to music with just partial light in the room always made me feel safe; content even. Content wasn’t really my forte, so those chill-out Friday evenings with Lemon Pledge and homemade pizza wafting in the air was as close to zen as I got.

Those Friday cleaning sessions have followed me into middle age. I get home before anybody else on Fridays as I’m out of work at 2pm. I’ll get home and after greeting and playing with the dog I start cleaning in the kitchen. Dishes, oven top, microwave, counter, and dining room table are all wiped down and shined up. Floors are swept in kitchen and dining room. Then I move to the living room and bedrooms where I sweep and dust. I get some laundry going, followed by cleaning the bathrooms. Afterwards I might get our Friday dinner going, followed by a pint of something hoppy poured into my favorite pint glass. Once things are cleaned and candles lit I’ll either relax to some vinyl spinning on the turntable, or as of late I’ve been watching a horror movie on Shudder. I haven’t taken advantage of that channel like I should so I’m rectifying that. While I clean I’ll play a cassette as I don’t have to worry about flipping them like I do vinyl. Yes, I’m sort of having a cassette renaissance.

I’m not sure why I’m sharing my Friday cleaning habits with you. I suppose it’s just that I think it’s important to find something that centers you in life and keep it up for as long as you can. Cleaning centers me. Maybe meditation centers you. Or reading a book. Or landscaping, I don’t know. Mine is learned behavior(from my mom), but I’m also the kind of person that can’t truly relax until the house is picked up. I feel lazy when I’m sitting in the recliner and the house is a mess. Might be a mild form of OCD, but it just doesn’t feel right to be doing nothing, when there’s something to do. It feels good to have the house looking and smelling fresh by 4pm on Friday. Then the weekend is pretty much free to do whatever.

With the kids all older and doing their own thing there’s not as much of a rush on Friday afternoons anymore. I always tried to get things done by the time they got home from school, now one works and the other lives and hour away. My youngest, my son, usually has school stuff on Friday afternoons. I’m happy for the free time on Fridays now, but I miss Friday night meals. That was another tradition, chicken tacos or chicken burritos. After cleaning up we’d prepare dinner over music and I’d enjoy that pint. Then we’d figure out a movie to watch. But that’s kind of come and gone since the boy is 17 and likes to hang out with friends on Fridays, or is busy with band. It’s been a Friday evening tradition that’s been hard to see go.

Everything goes in the end, right? That’s just the way of this world and of our existence here. So I suppose we should try to enjoy those small moments as much as we can. The small moments are where we find the most peace, I think. The big moments are great, but there’s always some kind of anxiety and panic involved getting there. Plus, you’re always going to remember graduations, weddings, funerals, and things of that sort. The quieter, more personal moments are where you find peace and reflection. For me? It’s dusting the living room and putting a glassy shine on the oven top, with some ambient cassette playing continuously in the living room. An IPA or two chilling in the fridge. The dog, standing guard at the screen door waiting to intimidate a squirrel or a car driving by. Then the moment where I can sit in my chair and take it all in. That’s where it’s at for me.

7 thoughts on “Friday Zen

  1. Lovely. Most folks see it as drudgery but you found the peace in it. I’m right there with you, brother!

    We run things a bit different here: I am chief cook and bottle washer, and I am countertop tyrant (“How can I work/cook on the counter if you pile yer stuff here? Move it!”) Ahem. Anyway, I also do all the outside stuff (cut the grass, blow the snow, etc etc. My lovely wife pays the bills (she’s more organized than me on that score) and folds the laundry. She also runs her own (now booming) business on the side of a full-time job that has a two-hour daily commute, so there’s some leeway there.

    However, during Covid lockdown we made a plan with the kids to help them have some agency in their home and to fill some of the time. We made a schedule and divided the house into 10 areas (living room, bathrooms, their bedrooms, etc), and every day we deep cleaned an area. Thus, over a two-week period, every corner of the house got full attention. This, of course, was on top of the daily clean-up and lighter maintenance, which was made easier by these deeper cleans as well. After Covid, this schedule has continued, though now the kids do their cleaning after school and before their tablet time (gone are the days of homework sent home, heaven forfend and forbid teachers expect too much!). Little do they realize that they’re learning those same motions and meeting those needs that they’ll have in their own homes later in life.

    Here’s to a clear, clean, useable countertop!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. i LOVE a clean home. this morning, i was trying to clean the draw cords on my blinds, and ended up splashing bleach on my hardwood floors and grey walls. luckily, i sopped everything up with a towel before doing any real damage… is it odd that i like the smell of bleach? almost as good as lemon pledge!

    Liked by 2 people

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