Deep-cleaning days. They were a thing while I was in the Navy. They were a thing when I was a kid, too. My mom would wake up early (early for her, which was about 8 a.m.) and would crank up the radio to the tune of old Spanish and Puerto Rican songs while waking us up with the determination of a drill sergeant. It was time to clean. All day long. While we listened to her music.
And it was not easy cleaning jobs. Furniture would be removed from the house. It would be placed in our driveway. The water hose (this was in Puerto Rico, where the interior walls of the home were made of cement) would come INTO the house. She would clean the floors, the windows, the walls, and the ceiling. It would take ALL day.
The cushion covers would come off of all of the couches. They would be laundered, twice, sometimes three times. And line-dried.
Then, I joined the Navy and learned about Field Days. There were no fields. Just brooms and swabs and foxtails and dustpans. Wire brushes. Sweeping and sweeping and sweeping and sweeping. And swabbing. And then more sweeping. There was usually no music during sweepers. Just bitching sailors. And reminders to sweep announced from the 1MC (general announcing system).
“Sweepers, sweepers: man your brooms. Give the ship a clean sweep-down both fore and aft. Sweep down all lower decks, ladder wells, and passage ways. Dump all trash and garbage clear of the fantail. Now sweepers.”
But…I was getting paid for it. Also, I had other sailors to commiserate with.
These days, it is a lot more low-key. I am a good housewife. Mostly. My bed is made as soon as I (or my former-sailor husband) climbs out of it. The kitchen stays clean. We don’t like gear adrift (sorry; clutter). Trash is taken out. We are a biohazard-free home.
Still, I am not in love with cleaning. If I am doing dishes, I am a bit bitchy about it. I like doing laundry, though. In this house, laundry is washed, dried, folded and stowed (sorry; put away) the same day it is washed.
But the fridge and the oven are areas that I hate. So much. I don’t get to those as much as I should. However, today, I decided that I would listen to Bobby Vinton on my record player while I did a bit of cleaning. I took the grates off of the top of my stovetop and scrubbed. Bobby Vinton sang in a beautiful soprano about lonely soldiers while I thought of disgruntled sailors (and kids) who hated to clean.
I honest-to-God think that listening to old music did something to make it feel okay to clean. The nostalgic music was company of a sort.
Maybe my mother was onto something.
However, I don’t turn into a tyrant when it is time to clean. My son cleans up here and there. I don’t want to scar him with my yelling about cleaning. But maybe I can create a few memories for him; his mother cleaning up the harder things while listening to old music.
Maybe it will help him clean through the hard times.