Well, this is a first: I’m straightening up my house for a tele-gathering with girlfriends. People will not actually be stepping foot in my home, and yet I am tidying up on the off chance that if I walk around with my laptop, they will see our messy house.
Let me point out that I use to be – in PPT (pre-pandemic times) – a very neat person. My bed was made every day; I cleaned up dirty dishes immediately; and my clothes were put away every night. But between all the food prep and constant sanitizing I’ve run out of energy and enthusiasm for these usual tasks.
What’s the point? We, my pandemic partner (also known as my husband), and I are constantly cooking and eating, so it’s a never-ending dish-capade in the kitchen. I think our dishwasher is in shock; it’s never been used so much except on holidays. If it could talk, it would no doubt be complaining bitterly in a German accent (it’s a Miele), and demanding overtime pay.
I wear the same kind of clothes every day – comfy sweats or leggings and T-shirts – so why bother putting them away? And the bed… well there are just so many pillows. (Ten to be exact; yes, I know, it’s a sign of some underlying issue.)
I don’t mind that we have let things slide a bit. Actually, it’s a bit of a relief from the voice in my head (which sounds strikingly like my mother’s), that tells me to always keep my house tidy.
When my husband use to travel for work (way, way, way back in time, like three weeks ago), I would make sure the house was neat as a pin when I went to bed on the off chance that I would have a heart attack in the middle of the night and need to call 911. My worry was not about being alone in pain or dying. No, it was about the paramedics seeing my filthy floors and thinking, “This one is really not worth saving. What a slob.”
So these “pandemic standards” are a bit of a relief. Truly, when we’re worried about people becoming critically ill or worse, worldwide economic recessions and people just struggling to get by day-by-day, who minds if free-range dust bunnies are tumbling about? Turns out not me.
My girlfriends could care less what my house looks like as long as we can be together. And if the paramedics do have to come for me, they will be too busy putting on their masks and gloves to even notice the clean laundry piled high on the dining room table, all those properly sanitized sweats and T-shirts waiting to be folded.
By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn is a Boulder freelance writer who has written about home-related topics for many, many years.