When our second little girl was born, the unthinkable happened. The Bible study ladies wanted to pamper me, to throw a baby shower for me, to bring me meals and to clean my house. It was their tradition: They did it for all the new mothers in the group. I had personally cooked meals and helped clean for some of them. Now it was my turn. I just could not let them see my house. During the week after I came home from the hospital, Dan ran interference for me. He picked up the meals from my friends on his way home from work to “save them the trouble” of driving all the way to our place. Luckily, they held the baby shower at another lady’s home. I put off the house cleaning visit for as long as I could. I told Glynis, “No, thank you.” I told her, “No need to trouble yourself.” I smiled sweetly, secretly clenched my fists, and said “Really, I’m fine. I don’t need any help.” My fingernails dug little bloody marks into the palms of my hands as I politely resisted and resisted. When the baby was about a month old I caved. Glynis and I set a date. I was supposed to take my two girls for a lovely outing, while she, Debi, and a couple of their helpful cleaning cohorts ravaged whatever dignity I had left.
The day before my friends were supposed to come clean my house, I worked harder than I had in my entire life. I picked up everything in the yard and pushed it away from the open shed door. I stuffed piles of magazines, toys, and craft projects into closets and under my bed. I washed all the dishes and pans and put them away in the cupboards. I made sure all our laundry was done and hung up in the closet. I vacuumed, swept and mopped. I stayed up well past midnight getting the house ready for the ladies to clean it.
When Glynis, Debi, Rachel and Donna showed up at my door the next morning I was showered and confident. I loaded the girls up in their double stroller and headed off to the park. I tried not to be nervous about what was possibly going on back home. The babies and I enjoyed a picnic lunch, visited the local library and headed home a couple of hours later.
When I walked in the door, I could not have been more shocked. The ladies were gone, and the house was CLEAN. I mean sparkling, shining, Pledge commercial CLEAN. The difference was so remarkable, I was dumbfounded. The kitchen sink was completely white. The edge of the linoleum around the bottom of the oven no longer had a greasy, crumb infested film around it. The drip trays on the stove were covered in fresh aluminum foil. The ladies had hung the curtain in the front window. The floor behind the toilet was no longer yellow. There were no toaster crumbs in the utensil drawer. The rubber dish drainer mat beside the kitchen sink looked like new. They had scrubbed off the slimy brown film with Ajax. Worst of all, the dish drainer was full of freshly washed baby bottles, nipples and rings. Up to that point, I had not known that baby bottle caps came apart into two pieces. Black slime grew between the rubber nipple and the plastic rings, and I had been giving my babies water out of those bottles! How could I have not noticed? I wanted to scream.
Something weird and new and wonderful and horrible happened inside my soul. I felt as though scales had fallen from my eyes, and I could see my life clearly. Ever since I was a teenager, I had been working at fitting stray puzzles pieces together, trying to build a picture that did not make any sense. My home, my dreams, my efforts ultimately looked nothing like the real me.