Living in the ME, sand and grit are a constant. You can be assured that a film of dust will immediately replace the one you have just swept, mopped, or wiped away. It is simply unavoidable.
Maids in the ME spend a good part of every day hosing down the outside of the house, the patio, the outdoor furniture; wiping the kitchen cabinets and countertops; dusting the end tables and curios; whacking and vacuuming sofa cushions and carpets.
Up until a few weeks ago, I never really got to see the dust, nor appreciate the shine that results from a good spray of furniture polish.
Then Tita L. (our maid) went on vacation.
Within 24 hours of her departure I started to really notice the dust. Within 48 hours I was sneezing uncontrollably. Within 72 hours I was saving on paper by writing my grocery list in the thick film of dust that covered the dining room table.
I believe it is on day 4, after mistaking our cat for The Sandman, that I finally succumbed to the lure of the feather duster. Armed with Windex, Pledge, a few dust rags and steely resolve, I set about the house swiping and wiping, determined to eliminate every single last sand particle from our abode. I worked tirelessly through the morning hours. Once I had finished, I sat back to admire the shine.
The house looked great. Spotless. I felt enormous satisfaction at having accomplished what I'd set out to do. I battened down the hatches, sealing all doors, making sure all windows were tightly shut, inspecting the house to make sure not a single gap to the outdoors remained.
You know what comes next.
Within 24 hours, a slight film had re-covered every visible surface in the house. I realized there was simply no escaping the dust. But this time, I acted quickly. I didn't let the dust accumulate. A quick pass through the house, and everything was sparkling again. I've managed to keep the house relatively dust-free, but it's been a constant and conscious effort. It's not easy. I really appreciate the shine these days. I know it's not that hard to achieve, but I also know it's not that easy to maintain. It takes work.
Today, on Mother's Day, I was struck by the similarity between a dust-free house and a happy family.
I realized that there have been times, when things are going well, where I forget to appreciate the shine. I take it for granted. I let little things slide. I go about my business assuming that this is just the way life is meant to be.
And then something happens, and "BAM!", out of the blue I realize that I've let things go a little too far. An accumulation of small little misgivings, a lack of interest or motivation, a moment of frustration or anger untended; and all of a sudden tempers flare, voices are raised, tears are shed, and a major clean-up exercise is in order. This is usually followed by a true appreciation of the luster of a loving family. But the overhaul is painful.
I realized that we have to work hard every day at maintaining the shine. I realized it when a friend asked me out to coffee. I told Smilin' Vic I felt guilty about going out to breakfast when I had so many things to do. And he said "It's your day, why in the world would you feel guilty? Enjoy." Such a little thing to say. But it made my day. Then he surprised me by popping in to join us for coffee and give me a single rose. ***Sparkle***.
Kiddo came home from school today with a dozen roses and a Mother's Day card in the shape of a handbag. The handbag card was a compilation of my Kiddo's impressions of me. Of the things I like, and the things she likes about me. Not a single thing in there was extraordinary, other than the fact that I'm eight feet tall! (I was initially flattered, then realized she also put me down as three feet wide!)
The point is, what sticks with kiddo is those times when we cook together, when I drop her off at school and pick her up. For me, it's Kiddo singing a new version of "The Shortcut Song" in the back seat on the way home every day, it's knowing Smilin' Vic likes sharing coffee with me. For Smilin' Vic, I think it's just coming home to two people who are thrilled to see him at the end of every day. The simple, everyday things that shine through consistent care and effort.
Much like dusting, it's sometimes the mundane that makes a family shine. It is sharing coffee, it is watching Food Network together, it is letting someone know that a very small gesture made a very big difference.
Relationships get dusty; it's inescapable. We all fall victim to the dust at one point or another. But with proper care, with a little bit of attention, with a daily check, it's amazing the shine you can uncover under the dust.
May all moms out there today enjoy their moment of shine.