'It will have to do' isn't always good enough | Living with Gleigh

It’s a week after my 50th birthday party and I’m still feeling the glow. I’m not talking about the feeling of love I still have from all the people who took the time to wish me a happy birthday (I am grateful for them), I’m referring to the fact that my house and yard are still fantastically tidy.

Over the years, my sister has occasionally done “commando cleaning” of my house. She entered into a Catholic Convent when she was 20 years old and they taught her how to thoroughly clean. Not that she didn’t already know how to clean, but convent clean is a different sort of process; commando.

I’ve occasionally enjoyed the results of her skills over the years: She worked her magic after the birth of both my children; on special occasions like when I was hosting a birthday party for our mother; or just as a gift or favor to me. When my daughters were small, she’d engage them in the activity; a sort of “Tom Sawyer” development: “Shoopa?” (her “aunt” name is Sherpa; another story for another time), “Can I scrub the bathtub too? Can I use the broom? Can I squirt the window cleaner?”

Whatever their aunt did seemed like an exciting adventure. Gone are the days when my kids clamored to help my sister clean the house, but she still whips them into action. They don’t protest, knowing cooperation will result in a shorter chore time.

Don’t misunderstand here; I had already “cleaned” house to “it will have to do” condition. My main thoughts were focused on setting up tables and chairs for my guests, finishing making the food for my birthday tea party and arranging the serving table.

However, my sister came ready for action. Watch out whoever was standing in the way; you would have been liable to get swept out with the cobwebs. Okay, I admit it, when I clean, there are usually cobwebs left hanging in the corners of the rooms.

I don’t always look up when I clean because I’m afraid of what’s up there. Regardless, my sister was there to make my house shipshape and she had an agenda. I stood back and let it happen. Really, who would protest a person’s desire to thoroughly clean your house? I didn’t interfere, especially, since she took time off work to help me organize and clean for the party. If she had a plan, who was I to interrupt it?

Then there was my yard. My best friend from Florida surprised me and showed up the Wednesday before my birthday. She helped me design my garden many years ago before she moved away. She comes once a year to spend a week playing and gardening in the Northwest. Her presence the week of my birthday was a surprise and she jumped right in to polish up my garden.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I had weeded the garden before she came to “it will have to do” condition; I had other things on my mind. Have you heard this scenario before? She put the finishing touches on my garden that I hadn’t had time to do: she planted, rearranged, weeded, got my drip system up and running, replaced broken pots and got it ready to show off at its best. She did all the tasks I didn’t have time for.

So besides bragging that I have the best sister and best friend in the world, I’m trying to expound the virtues of having a big party once in awhile. All the things we always mean to get done actually get done.Hmm? Maybe I’ll plan for another big birthday party next year. Anyone?

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to getting people to clean her house and yard next year too. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.”


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