Erik left yesterday for another two weeks in Oregon. My house is sparkly-clean. These two things are not mutually exclusive.
It's not just because he's a messy individual (he is, bless it). When I feel like things are out of my control - situations, deadlines, emotions, crises - I take care of the one thing I know I have control over.
I clean my house.
When someone else is having a crisis, some people bring food, some people sit and cry. I clean. I'll do your laundry, fold it and put it away. I'll vacuum the floors and wipe down counters, I mop the hardwoods and put away toys. I was talking with a few close friends about this the other day. One of us had a crisis hit the house and she said, "I think I'll clean. I can't sit and cry about it, I'll just feel like shit. I start to feel better when my hands are busy."
I knew exactly what she meant. There's something about your body being busy, but your mind being calm that's very healing. And at the end of the task, you've accomplished something. It's sort of a win/win for the organized personality.
On the flip side of the stress coin, I often resort to cleaning my house when I need a burst of creativity. Some of my best times of creativity come when I'm vacuuming or organizing, or even going on a short walk around the neighborhood. My hands & body are busy, but it's somewhat mindless work, so I'm able to clear my head and think through things in a new way that I otherwise wouldn't have seen if I was just sitting in front of the computer. I just finished unloading the dishwasher and folding some laundry, and here I am, writing a blog post. As Miss Bingley says in Pride & Prejudice, "I assure you, it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude."
Erik left yesterday afternoon for another long stint in Oregon, leaving me here with both kids for just over two weeks. We've been apart for a LOT longer than two weeks before, so none of this is all that difficult in the big picture. But, for some reason, this trip had my emotions running high. Maybe it's because once he gets home, I leave right away for an international trip (in June, we'll see each other for about 48 hours total). Maybe I was emotional because Rowan has been particularly difficult this week, or maybe because Scout was being particularly sweet. Whatever it was, I begged and pleaded for him to stay just a little bit longer, knowing full-well that he couldn't.
So when he packed up the last of his stuff into the 4Runner and drove out of the driveway, I wiped my eyes, wiped Rowan's tears, then wiped the counters. Then, I vacuumed. Then, I organized. Then, I mopped. It was something that needed to get done anyway, with our House Church potluck happening in just a few short hours after he left. But, even if he left on a Wednesday night, I would have done the same thing. I always do the same thing.
I clean the house.
The dishwasher is unloaded, the beds are made, Rowan is playing quietly downstairs, and you can see the entirety of our kitchen table - a surface that's usually covered in the day's mail, some Matchbox cars, and a thin layer of stickiness.
And I feel better.