When most people see a post devoted to spring cleaning, they immediately picture fresh sheets blowing in warm wind or Tupperware being neatly re-organized in the pantry. This was my own view for years as a young mother. I don’t just “like” neatness, I thrive on it! It’s an obsession to straighten and freshen up and straighten again. But there’s a hold-over from winter that can haunt even the best of us. It’s a longing for those “fresh sheets” to blow in the spring breeze every day. And guess what — that just doesn’t happen! I call this my winter blues.
As my children got older and I felt out-numbered, I realized that the winter blues of my heart were stealing my spring cleaning joys. I would clean out a cabinet, only to find myself gripped with fear that “little people” would mess it up again…very soon. Refolding towels in the linen closet was never satisfying, because I knew “sloppy teens” wouldn’t put them back like they found them. Rugs would hang over the deck railing while I deep-cleaned the hardwood floors, fully expecting a furry friend to “do his business” on my lovely finish. There was no end to the frustration of spring cleaning.
Now, I know that this doesn’t hit home with every mom. Many of you don’t “have a come apart” when things are out of order. Some of you (and I know a few) are just so together deep down inside that your demeanor doesn’t change when a gallon of sweet tea hits the freshly scrubbed floor. I love these women! I’ve wanted to be one, but I’m not. My stress level used to rise with just the thought that someone would “mess up” my spring cleaning ritual. So as years passed, I finally asked myself some tough questions.
Do I want the beauty of my home more than the beauty of their accidental mishaps?
Do I want every nook and cranny so neat that a Power Ranger has no place to hide?
Do I want to be remembered as the mother who lived so freshly scrubbed that I missed the grace in the grime?
Winter blues can rob us of so much energy. Thoughts of tomorrow’s mistakes can stymie joy. But when I realized one day that the sticky fingers were not going away and that my family was happy even when the freshness didn’t last long, I gained more joy in the process. It was no longer an exercise in cleaning for the long haul, but instead a cheerful gift to those I love. It may have been a momentary gift, but it was a gift! Each year, I look forward to cleaning out the cobwebs of my own expectations, giving to my family a fresh and honest heart, a happy mom!