There is always some abandoned object lying around the house: an emptied box, half-full glasses of water or lunch containers, mail brought in and never sorted. I get tired of being the pick-up queen, so often I’ll ignore said objects hoping the originating owner will take care of it.
I don’t know why I think someone would ever voluntarily pick something up; they haven’t done it to this point in their lives. I do realize in addition to simple laziness, sometimes those other people who live in the house with me just don’t know what to do with the random objects they deposit on the floor or on the horizontal collection stations (tables).
Things are usually abandoned somewhere mom can find them. As the mom of the house, I take care of things and my family has gotten used to that state of being. But I have to admit, I sometimes ignore the objects because I’m not always sure what to do with them either, nor am I sure who it belongs to so I can tell them to take care of it.
There is a rule in this house, if you grab a hold of it, it’s your responsibility to put it away or throw it away; if the cat throws up in front of you it’s your responsibility to clean it up; if the garbage smell is bothering you, it’s your responsibility to take it out; if you need a clean shirt, pants, or underwear before laundry day, it’s your responsibility to wash them. The catch is, the person actually has to claim the object, be caught near it or admit they need it.
It’s probably not surprising that my family notices little that happens in the house, admits something is annoying them or that they need something outside of everyday necessities. They never notice the garbage, they swear they didn’t see or hear the cat throw up, they never need clothes outside of laundry day and if random objects appear in their line of vision they never stake a claim.
I think it’s a trait they are born with. When my oldest daughter was a toddler and I tried to get her to help me pick up her toys, she said, “Why? We can just step over it.” So either my housekeeping skills rubbed off on her in utero or it’s an inherent trait.
Once a week or so I snap out of the daydream that someone else will actually take care of the random objects and issues that trouble my housekeeping senses (though I admit they are few) and I start picking up.
I grab the first object or issue in my path and deal with it; making my way through the house one item at a time: I rip the address label off the box, shred the label, crush the box and take it to the recycle bin; I approach the abandoned lunch container, clothed in a hazmat suit, empty said container in the garbage, determine if it can be saved and either toss it or run the dishwasher (whether it’s full or not) to combat the smell and sanitize; when tackling unidentified smells, I tie up the kitchen garbage bag and grab the compost bucket and take them both outside to their respective waste receptacles, bring the compost bucket in and soak it in soap and bleach to rid it of any lingering smells; I gather up the piles of mail my husband separated into neat, but illogical piles on the kitchen and coffee tables, take them to my office and slog through each one, separating bills from junk mail, tearing and shredding their labels and depositing the leftover debris in the recycle bin; I hang up coats, gather laundry and tackle the kitchen.
When I finish the battle, remove my hazmat suit and look around, I realize it probably took more energy to ignore the objects of offense than it did to take care of them. But I can assure you, the next time a random object appears, I will ignore it and fire up the daydream.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can read her column every week on covingtonreporter.com under the Lifestyles section.. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com.