What Working From Home Taught Me About My Nana
When I was little, my mom worked part-time, and so we spent a few days a week at my Nana’s house; in our family, Nana is our grandmother.
And when I think back on all the time I spent there, so many of my memories have to do with the house being spotless. For the life of 4-, 7-, 12-, 15-year old me, I couldn’t figure out why someone would spend so much time cleaning, and do it all day long.
It took me two months of not leaving the house to figure it out.
I was a typical kid with a 1980’s childhood, both of my parents worked, my brother and I had school activities, sports, and piano and dance lessons. Now that I think back on it, we really didn’t spend a lot of time in our home. We were always on the go, and home was just the launching and landing pad of our usual day.
In my college years and as a single woman in my first house I stayed busy with school, work, and an active social life. My space was cluttered, messy, but functional — as the launch and landing pad I needed it to be.
When my kids were babies and toddlers every day just felt like survival. I vividly remember just arriving at the next day in (mostly) one piece was good enough. Housework was a luxury chore that gave you time off from baby duty, but as it turned out, there wasn’t much time off of baby duty after all.
Then I got divorced, moved twice, and when it was time to move into a new house, I wanted to move in with professional guidance, because this was my chance to finally become an organized and clean person.
I’ll admit to being heavily influenced by Marie Kondo when I came across her book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up." I’m a changed woman, and my t-shirt drawer is a KonMari fantasy come to life.
Despite my t-shirts perfectly folded and arranged light to dark (duh), I’m far from a perfect housekeeper. Before the pandemic started, I was as busy as I ever was. So for dishes to sit in the sink all day…and sometimes into the next morning…felt acceptable.
But I was still in launch and landing pad mode. My home wasn’t my castle, it was the cheap hotel room you get because “we’re only here to sleep.”
Once my home became my entire world, I achieved a level of cleaning even my Nana would approve of.
Because my home became my entire world. It’s where literally all the people I ever see are; it’s where I do all of my work (for now) and live my entire life (for now). And for my Nana, a woman who didn’t drive or work — the need to keep plastic on the couches in the formal living room no one was allowed to sit in started to make so much sense.
When your home is the only view you’ve got, you want it to be what you need to see — peaceful, welcoming, clean and hygienic — all desirable qualities in the era of coronavirus.
And as I was cleaning the kitchen sink for the second — but surely not the last — time today, I thought about my Nana, and related to her world more than I thought I ever could, seeing as she passed away years before I became a mom.
But there are always lessons to be learned when shifting your perspective. To remind me of her, there’s a plastic butterfly sun catcher above my sink. It used to hang in my Nana’s kitchen window, and now keeps watch over how long I (don't) let the dirty dishes sit.