Condo Cleaning and A Few Thoughts on the Role of Parents

Well, I thought we’d be leaving early this morning from Fort Worth, but instead, the more we cleaned the condo, the more we saw that needed to be cleaned. We ended up rushing to leave by 3:30 pm. Yikes.

My day was spent cleaning all those icky areas that I didn’t think about until I remembered a new tenant was going to notice them when he moved into his new, “relatively” clean place. These included: the inside door of the dishwasher; the inside lid of the washing machine; the area around the lint holder in the dryer; the gasket on the freezer door; the edges of the freezer and refrigerator door; the oven – good grief – I gasped when I opened the oven door and saw all the baked-on grease from who knows how many pieces of beef and pork that had been cooked in there (A trip to Target for Easy Off Oven Cleaner came immediately after this discovery); the plastic around the jets in the jet tub, the under-edges of all the tub surrounds – ugh -yucky; the dusty interior of every drawer in two bathrooms, the kitchen and laundry room; the splashed mirrors in the big bathroom we’d be using; the backs of the toilets; the window sills underneath the blinds; the very dusty blinds, the floors; and the nail holes on all the walls.

I swear I am not obsessive, but these were simply gross, dirty, horrible little spots that had to be attended to.

Ray, meanwhile, was painting all the nail holes that I had filled with spackling; moving furniture to the curb; packing the van; improving the landscaping; washing off the front porch and walls and door; putting up towel racks, vacuuming carpets, etc, etc, etc.

Why we ever thought we’d jump up this morning and leave, I’ll never know. Instead, all these glaringly dirty spots seemed encircled in flashing red neon.

My chief tool was an old toothbrush…dear Lord in heaven.

The funny thing is that I heard Ray talking outside to someone and I went out to see. It was the mother of the young woman who had lived upstairs. That young woman had just finished medical school and was starting her residency. Her mother was there doing exactly what we were doing – she had her trunk open and her cleaning supplies inside. I said to her, “Ha! We parents of female doctors clearly have provided similar support.” We could have waved our toilet brushes in solidarity.

Alas…Ray and I both felt good about the condo’s transformation as a result of our efforts. Ironically, the young man who is moving in is a pharmacy student and will probably only microwave and be home solely to sleep.

Still, I know his mother will be pleased with how clean his new place is. After all, she’ll be the one who will be there with her cleaning supplies when he is finished with school and heading on to his next step.

I might suggest that behind most successful young people, there is at least one parent and often two who have made it their jobs to help with their children’s literal dirty work. (Imagine how hard those have had to work who didn’t have this support.) Not that Sarah left us to clean this condo in her stead; we made that decision when we decided to keep leasing it. Still, we bought the condo to provide a stable place for her to live and study while in medical school.  Just like the parents of the young medical student upstairs in the condo complex.

I don’t think we envisioned then that we’d be down on our knees cleaning dirt out of freezer gaskets several years in the future.

Alas, that’s life. Who knew?

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4 thoughts on “Condo Cleaning and A Few Thoughts on the Role of Parents”

  1. No, there is no rest for the weary. Len, I cannot say how much this piece resonated with me, as a parent and a landlord. My husband and I have been doing the same thing as we prepare a beachside townhouse for a new young family. The preparations always seem to follow the “three times rule” as anything that isn’t quite in the fun category seems to take three times longer, cost three times more, etc., than you originally anticipate. I loved and laughed out loud at your descriptions of the grunge, my eyes following your toothbrush and deep knee bends around the house into all those little places that were flashing red neon! Ha! I must say I am looking forward to having small kids (and dogs)around…there is something that warms the heart in seeing young folks just beginning the parenting thing while we old parents stress (us with three seventeen year olds soon going off to college and not with cleaning at the top of their skill set). Hail to the parents! Indeed, grateful to be at this end of that continuum, but worn to the worry bone. Take care and rest up, if it is even in y(our) nature.

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