By Susan Lamonica
When I was a kid, “chores” were punishment for bad behavior. Broke curfew? Clean the bathrooms. Only it wasn’t called “cleaning” – it was called “spit-shine”. You are not going anywhere until these bathrooms are SPIT-SHINE clean. Because it was a punishment, we were not allowed music, no talking on the phone to friends, no dinner, no breaks. Bathroom prison. When was the punishment over? When could I eat, call a friend, leave the bathroom? When every last speck of the bathroom passed spit-shine inspection. The PERFECT test.
I don’t fault my parents for spit-shine punishment – they worked hard, loved us and did they best they could. But I am almost 50 years old and just realized that although I embrace so many of Flylady’s lessons, I cannot relate when people talk about “dancing around with their feather dusters”. Last week, I began to question why others can make cleaning a game, playful – but for me it’s still so hard to begin the fifteen minutes and I DON’T have fun doing it.
The AHA moment. I learned to clean in punishing silence. Or worse, with someone yelling at me to slow down and do it properly, catching every cheat or shortcut and making me do it over and over until it was “spit-shine” clean. Heaven forbid if I got caught doing anything to make the chore more tolerable – that would defeat the intention of suffering and usually meant added chores.
To this day I find myself cleaning in utter silence. I also realized that I think unkind things to myself when I clean – not encouraging or praising words – I am more apt to berate myself for not scrubbing hard enough. I finish every job with a mixed feeling of accomplishment and sadness.
It occurred to me last week that I COULD put the stereo on and listen to music. No one is going to turn it off. The last time I dusted, I put on an old music tape I had not listened to in years. I sang while I dusted. For the first time ever. And I lost the feel of being punished. I was just…singing. It felt so wrong – but it was wonderful!! There is Finally Loving Myself for doing the routines; but just as important, I am learning to love myself WHILE I do the routines.