domestic bliss

On Sundays, I let the house go.

With the exception of cooking and dish duties, we neglect all but the biggest spills and broken lightbulbs. It’s a gift I’ve given to myself and my family for the last several years, one that has allowed us(after the busyness of meetings and choir practice) to take Sunday walks, play games and read novels on the couch.

You might think, with our leisurely activities, and after having cleaned the house on Saturday, that our abode would remain relatively tidy. I find it impossible to describe the utter bedlam that a family of eight (six of them wild, decidedly untidy boys) can wreak in one afternoon. It appears as if we’ve neglected sanitation for a month. And so, on Sunday evening, as I survey the wreckage, I breathe in my mantra–“just wait for Monday morning.”

Morning brings it’s own mayhem, with practicing, showers, lunchmaking and last minute bits of homework from 6 a.m. to 8:55 when Gabe and Xander fly out the door. Glorious quiet replaces their boisterous wake, and with the house emptied down to just Mary and I, I breathe deeply, pull back the counter chairs and methodically begin to clean up breakfast.

It’s slow work, this task of creating order out of chaos– coaxing just our main room into order requires at least two hours– but oddly satisfying. Food replaced to the fridge and cupboards, papers filed or recycled, the counter cleared then scrubbed until it gleams, chairs pulled back and the floor swept and mopped.

Mary shadows me as I clean; chattering, spinning cartwheels and finally bored, begs for Tiring of picking up two Connect Four sets and sorting puzzles, I too find solace in short breaks to read the comics and read your latest blog post.

The couches have to be moved and swept under, the kitty litter changed and the rugs vacuumed. If I’m extremely ambitious the book shelves will be dusted and the framed photos set straight. I do some version of this every day– but never quite so thoroughly as Monday morning. Ben and Stefan know to compliment me when they come home from school, because sadly, the relative cleanliness never lasts past 4 o’clock.

Our celebrations yesterday left chocolate cake crumbs, bits blue polka-dot wrapping paper and a dozen heart adorned notes from Mary, who wrote over and over, “I love you Mommy!” on every scrap of paper she could find.

Gabe’s gifts, “The Story of the Disco Witch” and a potted basil, lay on the table with Xander’s offering beside it. “Did all the kids make pig magnets for their moms?” I asked Xander as I unwrapped it.

“Oh no,” he replied, “our teacher told us to make flowers. But that’s so boring.”

And there, just as I was finishing and retreating towards a hot shower, was a folded note nudged between two couch cushions.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Dear Mom,

I love you so much. I love the way you sing Mary to sleep and practice guitar with Gabe. I love your pictures and when you make me practice piano. You’re so funny when you are doorbell ditching and when you think you can beat me in an arm wrestling match. But of the things I love about you the best is that you’re mine.

Love, Hans

Bliss. Pure bliss.

May 9, 2010
May 12, 2010



  1. Sue

    May 11, 2010

    I have a lovely wooden box that I put notes like that in. And I open it often and look inside to remember. I will keep it forever.


  2. Alyson (New England Living)

    May 11, 2010

    You can find the most wonderful things when you are cleaning! 🙂 What a beautiful note. What a sweet son you have. And I love the first line of this post! It’s what I do too.

  3. Jeanelle

    May 11, 2010

    you made me cry two days in a row! That’s a new record, I think.

  4. Rachelle

    May 11, 2010

    Okay, Lord, Hans just grabbed my heart. ;o) Great post and happy to hear that you let go on Sundays….

  5. Melissa

    May 11, 2010

    what a gift. 🙂

  6. Tracy

    May 11, 2010

    I think your boys need to find more places to hide love notes for you. Cleaning on Mondays would be so joyful.

    P.S. Connect Four = I have been addicted since I was little, and now play it on my iphone in the school carpool lane.

  7. Travelin'Oma

    May 11, 2010

    Cleaning isn’t very interesting around here, today. No shreds of love notes, no ribbons. Just sticky floors and laundry. Maybe I’ll turn on pbskids and see what it can offer.

  8. Kerri

    May 11, 2010

    I’ve been thinking about this post, and what the attitude towards Monday morning reveals about me. I think I need an attitude adjustment, because all I thought when I woke up Monday morning and walked into the kitchen was, “Oh, @(^&##.” My three hours of cleaning were not full of peace or tranquility or domestic bliss. But I like thinking that they could have been if I had had the right attitude, and I really think your post taught me something about that. Thanks yet again!

  9. Mitchell Family

    May 13, 2010

    Loved this post. It is still a mystery to me that a clean house on Saturday will be an utter disaster Sunday afternoon, when all we did all morning is go to church.

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