the not-so-natural progression

My house is filled with two types of people: cleaners and uncleaners. My cleaners are very helpful indeed. They wash dishes, sweep and mop floors, and do laundry. They work hard. We would all love to enjoy the labors of their work, but, alas, we have those others in our home…the UNcleaners.

The uncleaners are much more proficient at their jobs than the cleaners are. They can create chaos out of organization in five minutes flat. Clean floors become muddy before our very eyes when the uncleaners are around. Clean bedspreads become sodden and red with one jump of an uncleaners wet bare feet. Uncleaners are able to empty the neatly folded clothing from their dresser drawers in a fraction of the time it takes to fold the clothes and place them in the drawers. If there was a super-hero of messiness, my uncleaners would wear that cape.

The nice thing about uncleaners is that they eventually do become cleaners. It is a long, hard progression. It takes training and courage; most of all it takes time. Lots of time. There is nothing less heartening to a mom than to see her older children slip into uncleaner mode. Likewise, there is something so very encouraging to behold my uncleaners in cleaning mode. Sadly, that happens rarely. Uncleaners must be carefully trained out of their uncleaning habits. .

The uncleaners live in my home. I love them and have been charged with raising them to be godly, moral, loving humans. It is my job to train them to create order out of chaos. It is a hard task. It is not a natural progression. And it is my joy.

But I confess that I do dream of a time when my home will no longer be inhabited by uncleaners. One day the bathrooms will stay clean after they have been scrubbed. The couch cushions will remain in place where they belong (because they will not be pressed into service as the walls of a fort.) The kitchen floor will not be that particular shade of Georgia red clay instead of the off-white it is supposed to be. We will no longer find sippy cups scattered like scent markers throughout our home and yard. One day clothes will only have to be washed once between wearings instead of being yanked from drawers and trampled underfoot by tiny uncleaning feet. One day windows and computer screens will be clear of tiny finger and palm prints.  Some day I will be able to turn on a washer or dryer and not have inquisitive little hands re-adjust the dials or open the doors half-way through the cycle. The dishwasher will be allowed to do its job unmolested.  Cabinets will not be emptied so they can serve as the perfect place to hide; nor will cabinet doors serve as swings. Dog food will be reserved for canine consumption only.  Dinners will become mundane affairs where milk and ice water stay mindfully in their receptacles, where food will not be tossed to the floor, and chairs will not have to be inspected before being sat upon. Craft supplies will be safely left out for convenient use, scissors will not have to be hidden by lock and key, and no one will rifle through the cloth in the closet on a daily basis. Spills will be cleaned up because Not Me and I Don’t Know, my chief uncleaners, will no longer live here.

And on that day, I will probably cry as I realize I miss the days of the uncleaners. Of course, by then, perhaps some of them  will have uncleaners of their own. And I suspect that they will come to visit us often–at least often enough that the cycle of uncleaners will never end. It is a strangely comforting and yet terrifying thought. Perhaps it is the natural progression after all.

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