Today, I was the meanest mom in the world. Why? Because just like I do every weekend, I insisted that my three kids pitch in and clean the house. To my kids, telling them to clean is comparable to sending them to a prison, where Mr. Clean teams up with the Scrubbing Bubbles to torture my poor kids with the smells of April Fresh chemicals.
“Cleaning up is not fun,” my kids whined.
“Just because it isn’t fun, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it,” I told them. “Life is not a Disney fairy tale with magical singing birds to clean the house for you. Deal with it.”
(Okay, so maybe I was a little too hard-nosed. But compared to my mom, I am Mary Poppins).
When I was a girl, my mother and stepfather and four brothers and sisters always pitched in to give the house a good cleaning each weekend. With the exception of Little League baseball season, Saturday mornings in our house meant cleaning up. And no one grumbled. No one complained. We didn’t dare. Let’s just say that my mother had a broom and was not afraid to use it.
Saturday mornings were tough work. But you know what? In my memories, they were also pretty great. Because those were times of togetherness for the seven of us, helping each other to dust and vaccuum and fold the sheets. There was always music playing throughout the house — Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Prince, Chaka Khan, Kool & the Gang, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Aretha Franklin, Janet Jackson…our house was a 1980’s R&B jukebox. It was not Saturday morning without the smells of Comet and Clorox, and the sound of Joe Cobb on the television, announcing the SOOOOOOUUUULLLLL TRAIN! My brother, sisters and I did not just clean the house together. We danced as we vaccumed the carpet. We grooved as we scrubbed the toilets. We wiggled our hips and sang songs like Let’s Go Crazy and Isn’t She Lovely? at the top of our lungs while washing dishes. We rode the Soul Train until every inch of our house sparkled, ready for another week of family life.
So this morning, of course I turned on Pandora and tortured my kids with awful R&B music while forcing them to pick up their toys and vaccuum the floors.
“You’re already making us work like slaves,” my daughter said, rolling her eyes. “Can’t you at least play some good music?”
I sighed and switched to Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, feeling as though the Soul Train had just pulled out of the station without me. Oh well. At least we managed to get the house clean this morning, and more importantly, we did it together.