Addicted to Cleaning

15 August 2016

Written by Fiona Harris

I like cleaning. Ok, that’s a lie…I LOVE cleaning. I love tidying and sorting my house on a regular basis and the feeling of satisfaction I get after a particularly productive spree. It’s not just my own home I enjoy giving a good spruce up to. I have been known to eagerly offer to clean friends’ houses’, and, more alarmingly, some of them have taken me up on it. I’ve also been known to crawl slowly along the length of my house with a dustpan and brush, on those occasions when the vacuum cleaner has blown up, (from overuse I suspect) and have often experienced a disturbing thrill of excitement when I’ve extracted a miniscule piece of cheesestick from between the tiles on the kitchen floor with my fingers.

I am not insane enough to believe people are reading this, shouting, “Thank God someone has finally had the courage to say it out loud! Cleaning is FUN!” I realize I am in the minority here and acknowledge that admitting you love cleaning is a bit like confessing that you love having a pap smear.

However, I have to admit that I’m having a teency bit of trouble acknowledging the overwhelming evidence that my two daughters have inherited my anal tendencies. When I saw my three-year-old make Fifi the Flowertot wash the windows on her yellow plastic watering can house, I realised that my influence had probably spread too far. I’m more than happy being a freak, and living openly and content as such, but I’m not proud to have inflicted this scrupulous condition on my offspring.

It’s true that I have made my kids clean up after themselves and help around the house since they were strong enough to pick up a dust-buster, but that is where the OCD stops. I usually manage to keep a lid on the screaming psycho inside my head when I walk in on a particularly messy game that usually involves a floor covered in glitter glue, cellophane, matchsticks, beads and plasticine. I have forced myself to walk away, get on with whatever I’m doing, and silently count down the minutes until I hear them moving on to the next thing before I appear before them like a deranged jack-in-the-box and order them back into the room to help me clean up the magic fairy glitter garden.

It hasn’t been easy keeping this obsessive habit under control when I share a house with children who are about as capable of not making mess as Geoffrey Edelston is at not making a dick of himself. But I have desperately tried not to let my anally retentive rubbish bin of nuffiness overflow. The last thing anyone wants is a Mommie Dearest screeching at the sight of a teddy bear lying askew on the bed, or using rubber gloves and a pair of tweezers to remove a dead fly caught in the track of a sliding window. Is this an illness? Absolutely. Do I wake up some days and hate myself? Who wouldn’t? Have I lain in bed some nights wishing I could channel Roseanne Arnold and never give a toss about coat hangers facing the wrong way in a wardrobe ever again? Umm…no, actually. I’d rather be a clean freak than her any day.

I’ve put up with the ridicule for years now, but nicknames like “Neatnick” and “Fastidious Fiona” and “Hygiene Harris” will not deter me. One group of friends thought it would be fun to mess up my famously immaculate doona cover by jumping under it, rolling around, throwing my pillows on the floor before calling me in to witness my now not-so-perfect bed. They thought it was hilarious for approximately five seconds before I leapt onto the bed and rolled around on top of their legs until their screams of pain and the sound of their bones cracking was enough to make me stop.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness – and I wont let the fact that I’m an atheist stop me from throwing that particular saying around like a handful of smarties whenever I get the opportunity.


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