In normal times we have Molly Maid come to our house every two weeks on Wednesday mornings at 9:00. It’s a luxury we allow ourselves, justifying it for three reasons. We’re so busy normally that we don’t have time to do a good job with the housekeeping. We use our home for workshops, so squalor is not an option.

And having a cleaning service preserves our relationship.

We’re usually caught in the same male/female dichotomy that is replicated in so many homes. I seem to bear the primary responsibility for noticing and dealing with the fact that sand has been tracked into the kitchen, that the bookshelves are furred with dust, the closets are disorganized and that all the dishes since yesterday’s lunch are still on the counter, despite our arrangement that I make the food and James cleans up after the meals.

 

So when social isolation descended and our beloved Siena and Jackie stopped coming to our house, vacuum cleaner and chemicals in hand, my partner and I both panicked a little initially.

But it’s working out. We decided to keep those alternate Wednesay mornings at 9 as our housekeeping date. I hate cleaning bathrooms; James is asthmatic and the dust from a vacuum cleaner starts a bonfire in his lungs. So there’s a natural division of labour that has happened.

Astonishingly, I am loving it.

I’m loving sucking the tumbleweeds of dog fur into the vacuum. I’m enjoying the transformation from sand-covered, dog-hair covered, pattern-obscured rugs into colourful rectangles aligned neatly on the floor. I’m loving the light scent of cleaner from the damp mopping and the way the floors gleam when I’m done. And, bit by bit, as I move furniture around to vacuum, etc. I’m re-evaluating the placement of things, the utility of things.

Last week, while moving the furniture around to vacuum underneath it, I experimented when I put it all back.  I found a new layout for the living room that opens up the sight lines so the pond and the gardens are much more visible. I took down the curtains that have been hanging there for five years and washed them. Now I’ve discovered I love the clean lines of the window frames and all the extra light that comes in without the fabric hanging there. We really only need the curtains for warmth in the winter – so I won’t put them up again till fall.

All of this feels metaphoric. Like in this quiet backwater time I’m shedding, reorganizing, letting in the light. Another thing I’ve discovered gratitude for in this time of so many unexpected gratitudes.