A miniature green and yellow triceratops greets me when I open my eyes. He is plopped on top of my chaotic bedside table and for some reason, upon waking, my eyes move automatically to him.
“Well good morning small play thing,” I say, but not loud enough to give my husband a reason to commit me.
Dino tells me he is there to remind me of the shambles in which my house resides.
“No, surely you are mistaken dinosaur,” I say calmly — coolly, even.
He informs me that I am the one who is mistaken.
Even though I did stay up until the wee hours of 10 p.m. tidying up the crumbs from the counters, the dishes in the sink and the toys from the floor — little dinosaur speaks of a different kind of cleaning this early morning.
I groan deeply (and not the good kind of groan) in my bed and I think about the dreadfulness that is spring cleaning. I think about the undersides of the living room couch cushions and shudder. I think about the cutlery drawer and all of the crumbs and junk that manages to find its way in there and a wave of nausea overcomes me. I think about the awful amounts of dust that would perhaps asphyxiate my pink coloured blinds if they had breathing capabilities and a single tear rolls down my cheek.
Each year, this moment of realization comes, usually in some surprising and creative way, and each year I’ve learned to fight it vigorously. Spring cleaning can only lead to heartache and woe.
Let me tell you about it. …
A few years back, when spring cleaning didn’t have the same sickening ring to it as it does now, I decided to clean my closet.
This was a time when Lars was beginning to potty train. It was a time before I became neurotic about my loathing for all things potty training.
I am clearing away the shoes and purses that are stuffed in the back of my closet when I begin to smell something familiar.
What could it be? What could that darn smell be that makes me want to stuff tampons up my nostrils?
I grab for one of my purses and feel the pleather (I’m classy like that) is sodden and stinky.
I immediately become conscious of the smell — later in my potty training quest, I will undoubtedly be able to distinguish it from miles away. Urine — hello, old friend.
At the time I had thought, due to the dry pull-ups, that small Lars had been proficient in his toilet training endeavours.
But instead, he had simply been using my closet as his own personal pee place.
In later years of spring cleaning, I would come to discover more unbearable surprises, each year the grossness gauge rising.
One time, it was poo-streaked Thomas the Tank Engine undies stashed discreetly under the bathroom sink.
The next year, it was curdled milk bottles hidden away in secret corners for later consumption.
Apple cores in heat registers.
Bread crusts in the Tupperware drawer.
My children are obviously terrified that one day I will stop feeding them and they have come to realize they must keep reserves.
And please don’t even get me started on the basement conditions!
So instead of getting out of bed, I lay there stock-still and silent. Maybe, just maybe, if I try hard I can forget that the prophesized time of spring cleaning is closing in.
I had hit the snooze button when the dinosaur began his talk with me this morning, and now once again my time has ran out and the bleep, bleep, bleep of the device is scratching at my ears.
I roll over to push snooze once more when the dinosaur catches my eye again. He stands on the bedside table with a half drunk water bottle, a bottle of hand lotion, a used string of floss, and a decorative box that holds all sorts of knick-knacks in it. To be truthful, I’m not even sure what the contents in that box are.
Again, the prehistoric plaything reminds me about my cleaning quest. I tell him to shut it because it’s my house and it really isn’t as bad as he is making it out to be.
The dinosaur begrudgingly agrees and I feel accomplished for winning a battle of wits with a small inanimate object.
But then the Barbie reminds me, as I step on her head while moving towards the bathroom, that spring cleaning probably wouldn’t seem so terrible if I was an overall better housekeeper in the first place.
Shut it Barbie — what do you know anyways?
Lindsay Brown is a Sylvan Lake mother of two and freelance columnist.