"What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what is behind a windowpane."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Someday You'll Thank Me for This."

Today is the day I take down and clean all the curtains, move all the furniture to mop some floors, and dust everything I could possibly reach; in other words, it's Spring Cleaning Day! And on this auspicious occasion, I am reminded of a phrase my Mom always said when forcing us to spend an entire weekend cleaning, "Someday you'll thank me for this."

I didn't believe her, especially since these words were usually attached to a chore I hated or event I dreaded. Basically, if I hated it, I'd be "thanking her for it someday."

Spring cleaning was a biggie in our house. With nine people living under one roof (and only one bathroom, but, that's another story!), by the time Spring came, it was high time to open up those windows and let some fresh air in! It also meant deep-down cleaning, the kind of dirt only a mother can see.

One day, as I was cleaning the "parlor" (what we called our living room) I just had a hopeless attitude. We lived on a busy city street right next to a parking lot. Our house was old, but big with lots of potential. (Oh, how I'd love to own that home now!), but money was tight. Paying for food and oil was more of a priority than owning new furniture or making aesthetic repairs.

Sighing, I asked Ma, "What's the use? No matter how much I clean, it still doesn't look good." I then pointed out the rug stained with car oil my brother had tracked in. Then there was the old furniture where seven young children had climbed on, jumped on, ate on, and I'm sure even spit-up on! Plus, with such a large family, there was "stuff" everywhere. I was the one guilty of having too much hamster clutter.

Looking back, I'm thankful Ma wasn't hurt by my attitude. I'll always remember her response because it changed the way I viewed cleaning and our house forever. She said, "Just because we don't have the nicest furniture, doesn't mean we don't take pride in it. We may not have a lot, so what we do have we take care of." It was like a light went on for me. I finally understood why Ma spent countless hours cleaning the house, only for us to destroy all her hard work within hours. It wasn't just about a clean house, but appreciating what we had. Cleaning was about gratitude.

Ma was right. It may be late in coming, but THANK YOU MOM, for teaching me to respect and take care of whatever I possess. Thanks for putting up with all my moaning and forcing me to do it over and over until I got it right. With the responsibilities of my own home now, I consider myself lucky to have learned so much at such an early age.

Now, when my kids whine about having to clean, I smile and tell them, "Someday, you'll thank me for this."

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