Growing up, my most and least favorite day was cleaning day. Usually on a Saturday we’d wake up to the sounds of our mom scrubbing either the kitchen or the bathroom. We’d haul our dirty clothes out to the hallway and sort them into piles. We’d dust and vacuum and declutter.
When you’re a kid, cleaning sucks. But there was always something so lovely about resting on the couch under the ceiling fan afterward, surrounded by the smells of Clorox and Pledge. There was a peace to the clean house.
When it came time to strip and remake the beds, my sister and I would play a game with our mother. She would go to spread the new fitted sheet over the mattress and we’d climb underneath before she could get it secured. Then she’d continue to make the bed over us and we’d crawl out one corner, fixing it behind us.
It was silly, really, but it’s one of my favorite memories. The breeze of the snapped sheet over your head, the scent of the detergent it gave off.
The giggles as we lay trapped underneath the bedding for just a moment. The feeling that there wasn’t anything else going on in the world at that moment, just us in the bedroom, being together.
It was all part of the magic of childhood, the magic that fades for awhile but is renewed later when you get to be a parent yourself.
Yesterday I was making the bed when Monkey let out a loud squeal and leapt up onto it. He squirmed his way under the half of the sheet I’d already fitted to the mattress.
“I help,” he insisted.
He wasn’t much help, of course. He’d wrap himself up in the sheets, toss the pillows at me, and yank the comforter away each time I’d try to place it.
I would have gotten exasperated with him, but there was this moment. This moment when he was between the sheets, sitting on top of the fitted one I’d finally gotten tucked in, the flat sheet snapped out above his head, floating down in his face.
His face that was lit up from within with happiness at this moment.
Could he smell it, I wondered? The detergent, would he remember its scent years later? Would the softness of that clean sheet always be a comfort to him?
He had no idea of the bridge to my childhood he’d built in those few seconds, of how quickly I was taken back to those essentially carefree days. How for that moment, there wasn’t anything else going on in the world but us in the bedroom, being together.
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