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In the Hot Seat

When we moved, we had a “pivot”.

Our old house closed escrow three weeks before our new house did, and we were officially homeless.

Into the gap stepped my beloved mother-in-law. Her empty rambling house would fit us all, and would you believe it, she had booked a three week trip to New Zealand months ago for that exact time frame. Now we were house-sitters.

I had learned by this point to not even be surprised.

I had been high-fiving God on an hourly basis since the whole moving process began.

This is how He rolled.

The first week in my mother-in-law’s home was lovely. Everything that could possibly be done, was done. There was nothing left to do but get the kids to school, sift through paperwork, wait for the phone to ring.

I wandered through her sunshiny house, reminding myself that the calm before the next storm of activity was a chance to be on vacation. After putting our property into tip top condition, it was a welcome chance to rest up. (If you think we had “movers” or “housecleaners” or “gardeners” or “leprechauns” doing anything for us, you haven’t read enough of my blogs. You’re cute. No.)

When the second week of waiting began, I found myself looking sideways at the living room. We were, of course, not making messes around the house, and being tidy in general.

But maybe mom wouldn’t object if I just dusted out one row of bookcases? If I put everything back exactly into the position it’s in? She won’t notice, will she? Just to pass the time a little.

I was halfway through the den when I came to my senses.

I forced myself to put down the cleaning supplies and step outside for some fresh air.

Just look at her pretty gardens, I mused. Her hummingbird feeders glowed ruby red and roses competed with multiple arrangements of succulents.

Five minutes later, I was washing windows.

It just felt like it should all sparkle at the same time, like a fireworks show.

In the third week of our pivot, things began to shift back into momentum, and I could not help moving into the faster currents with them.

I started scrubbing shower tiles and deep cleaning refrigerators and if Hubby had not physically restrained me, I likely would have become a chimney sweep.

Mom was coming home the next day and we were leaving simultaneously, and I surveyed the house that night with more than a little dread. There was no way she was not going to notice that her house had been turbo-cleaned by a crazy person.

I really couldn’t remember doing most of it. It just sort of happened.

I looked, aghast, at the shiny stovetop and the organized tea canister and wondered if maybe I should scatter some laundry around to distract her.


I am so sorry.

I need a hobby.

If you already crochet or ice sculpt or watercolor, you are exempt from cleaning ovens. You’re welcome.


Published inLiving Larger


  1. Bonnie Sommerville

    If I go on vacation, will you come and stay at my house? We have plenty of room!

  2. Anonymous

    Great blog, I can relate, my hubby thinks I’m obsessive. My last experience like that was cleaning my son and daughter-in-laws house, working every day but Sunday it took me nearly a month. They had gone to New Zealand for a year and loaned the house to three pro lacrosse players and their dogs in exchange for taking care of their Saint Bernard. They lacrosse players were out of the house when I began and it was a true adventure and a great way to get in shape and loose weight.

  3. Stephanie

    What? I thought cleaning was a hobby! I have felt guilty after cleaning a friend’s house while she was away. But we were taking care of the dog so it was just an extra favor. I think I inherited this from my mom. I love reading your blog!

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