July 7, 2011

Redefining Work

My knees and back ache. 
My hands almost scalded from hot soapy water.
I swish the rag. 

Running, soapy water pours back into the bucket as I wring the rag practically dry.  A technique I learned long ago cleaning million dollar houses one carefree, youthful summer spent thousands of miles from home. 

The music that was suppose to make this task seem more joyful, has failed.
Wiping sweat from my head and grime from the kitchen floor, I look up locking eyes with her. 
A wide eyed innocent being, curiously looking onward. 

My, I must be a sight.   

"Mommy, will you teach me to wash the floor?"  my oldest daughter inquires shyly. 

"Seriously?" I ask. 

"Yeah, it looks like fun." 
Dunking the rag deep down to the bottom of the bucket, I rinse. 
Steam rises up my arms, warming my shoulders and face.
When was this task, the one I avoid except when absolutely necessary, actually fun for me? 

I think back to when my mother patiently taught me how to scrub. 

"No, Dorie, the water must be hotter." 
I thought my hands would melt. 
Now, my own water feels just as hot. 

"Always start on one side and move toward the exit.  Don't clean yourself into a corner."

"Scrub harder, or the dirt won't come off."
Harder and harder I scrub, until clenched knuckles ached, and dirt and grime diminished. 

"Be sure to rinse your rag often." 
Scrub, swish, rinse, wring; working my way out of the room. 

Working my way into a new chore.

For the many years since, I have scrubbed floors by hand. 
"A mop will do the job."  My husband tells me.
Yeah, but not as well.  I know first hand.

"Mommy..." her voice interrupts my thoughts. 

"Yes."  My hands still swirling the rag rise from the waters.  Wringing, twisting the rag as water cascades into the bucket.

"Can you?"

"If you want to, I will."

Later, I ask, "Was it fun?"

She laughs, "Yeah, it was." 
And merrily she goes on with her day.


  1. This put a smile on my face...because it was fun.

  2. I totally agree. There is nothing cleaner than doing it by hand. Almost a lost 'art', if you want to call it that! I think your daughter would!

  3. Isn't it amazing what kids think is fun?

    I wash the floors by hand too :)

  4. I thought I was the only "crazy woman" to mop her floors on her hands and knees. I'm glad that I am not alone in my "craziness." However, I use a mop sponge to clean and not a rag.

    Just curious, do you really put your bare hands in scolding hot water? Yikes! I always use gloves.

    Anyway, I'm glad that your daughter had fun with you mopping the floors. That's too cute! :)

  5. Yes, I do really wash the kitchen and utility room floors with bare hands. Though I do wear gloves for cleaning the bathrooms. Odd for me not to use gloves for both, eh? Not sure why I don't for the floors...


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