Breaking Free of the Need for Clean

Jessica’s greatest fear was being labeled as an unclean woman with a dirty house. She had felt that people would judge not just her home but her as a parent and as a wife. So, she had cleaned religiously every day, staying ahead of the dirt and clutter that a family of five can continuously produce.

Her husband and children had not shared what they called her “obsession” with cleaning. They had tried to get her to let the cleaning wait and come with them to the woods for long walks or to the ice cream parlor for sinfully sweet banana splits. But, she had always chose to stay home and stay ahead of the mess.

Jessica knew that her family was correct in the assessment of her extreme need for clean, but she could not help herself. She had grown up in a dirty house. Her mother had not considered herself “domestic,” keeping the house somewhat clean but not immaculate, like some of the other mothers. But, Jessica chose to change the script and do the opposite for her children and husband.

But, one day, as she mopped the floor, she had felt a pain in her left arm and it felt like an elephant was sitting on her chest. Frightened, she called her neighbor, Julie, who took her to the nearest hospital. Doctors diagnosed a heart attack. Laying in the hospital bed, all she could think about was how awful her house would look when she was released.

But when she told her doctor her fears,  the doctor advised Jessica to break free from the need for clean before it killed her. She advised her to have fun and enjoy her life, because the people who really mattered, her family, would love her, regardless of how clean or dirty the house.

Today, Jessica relishes in the exhilarating feeling of dancing with dust mites, as sunshine streams through the windows of her home. She doesn’t get upset about the dirt any more, for she understands that the stress of trying to please other people can leave you physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained.

Her husband doesn’t complain about the house and neither do her kids. They are too busy enjoying life with her, so thankful that she turned over a new leaf after her heart attack. Now, she kind of understands what her mother used to tell her to tell the people that complained about their home, “If you don’t like the dirt, stay on the other side of the door.”

Mama lived a long, full life, making cleaning to please the neighbor women the last thing on her to-do list. Instead, Mama gamboled through life, with not a worry in the world. Jessica decided that she would learn from her Mama rather than try to outdo her.

Written for the September Writing Prompts from Putting My Feet in the Dirt: Dancing with dust mites.

Word of the Day Challenge is Exhilarating.

5 thoughts on “Breaking Free of the Need for Clean

  1. Good one. BA tells the story of a childhood neighbor, Dorothy, who was always cleaning. Her mom would invite her over for coffee and the response was always the same: “Oh no Em, I gotta clean.” A nice woman who missed a lot of living. To this day, when one of us goes on a cleaning kick, its pulling a Dorothy.

    Liked by 1 person

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