Cleaning Out the House: A Sing Along

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When housework becomes drudgery, when single socks pile up on the ironing board, and when dirty countertops, floors, and toilets beckon me just once too often, I have a trick. I sing to Mary. That’s right, I sing to the Blessed Mother.

My little ditty goes like this:

Mother Mary, Mother Mary,
Make me thankful for these ______. (Fill in the blank. Let’s say “floors.”)

Mother Mary, Mother Mary,
Make me thankful for these floors.
Mother Mary, Mother Mary,
Make me thankful for these floors.

When our boys were little, I would sing it loud and strong. They’d peer around the corner and say, “Oh, boy. Mom’s cleaning again.” They were fearful that I was heading toward their rooms.

Mother Mary, Mother Mary,
Make me thankful for these clothes…that I’m picking up…off my son’s floor… again…but never mind!
Mother Mary, Mother Mary,
Make me thankful for these clothes.

Well, yes, housework still irked me a bit. But I could picture Mary doing the same chores for her little family. I could connect.

Several years ago, I attended a Catholic mother’s group. I was so eager to learn about this new term I came across–the Domestic Church. I wanted to find out just how to make our home our own little place of worship, along with building my own domestic vocation. Fill me in! Alas! The ladies wanted to talk about more common things. How to save money by cutting napkins in half and how select-a-size paper towels ranked among the greatest inventions of our civilized hemisphere. Somehow, these things always rolled into the scripture sharing. But I wanted more! Come on, gals, let’s get down to it!

I proclaimed my new discovery. Singing to Mother Mary. One mom said that if she sang to Mary in her home, her children would have her commited. Another made her opinion quite clear by rolling her eyes and saying, “Yeah, right!” There was a general air of “Oh brother!” in the room.

I guess I couldn’t blame them. But I shared two more thoughts before I dropped it, and I do believe I saw a few eyebrows going up in agreement. First, if I’m grateful for something–having bathrooms, a fridge, dishwasher, floors, ceilings, a roof, electricity, cats, cat food, cat litter (am I going too far?)–then I can’t be angry about taking care of them. It all comes down to an attitude of gratitude. And second, if I can’t be Catholic in my own home, just where can I be Catholic openly and abundantly? Aren’t moms the moral gate keepers of the Faith?

Mother Mary helped me to see all our “necessities” as gifts, not just instigators of chores. Messy gifts, though, but it’s better to have them than to go without.

Today, I don’t sing this song as boisterously as I used to. It’s become something of a little hymn I hum under my breath, but it’s there for me just the same. I can see Mother Mary scrubbing the floors, wiping her wet dishpan hands on her apron, and cleaning out the wood-burning stove. My kinda woman.

I once mentioned this concept and my little verse in song to Catholic novelist Michelle Buckman. We had just met. What would possess me to tell her this about myself? But Michelle smiled with an honest and sensitive acknowledgement. “Yes, that’s very much like St. Therese and her little ways, to be grateful for everyday things.”

I’ll take that! So, loud and clear everyone…

Mother Mary, Mother Mary
Make me thankful for these _______________.

Fill in the blank.

Copyright 2011 Kathleen Blease

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4 Comments

  1. Kathleen, I wish I could sing my comment to you! I love this! Many times, when I am cleaning, I will blast one of my favorite Catholic musicians on my ipod and sing along. But next time, I am going to try your approach. Thanks for the smile!

  2. For me, it’s not a matter of wanting or not wanting to clean…it’s a matter of, “Will me 1.5 and 3 year old LET me clean?” Will they cry? Will my 1.5 year old insist on being held? Will they ask me for something to eat, drink? Read a book? Watch another movie, please? I tell them, “go play with your toys” when I clean, but my 1.5 year old just does not get that concept when his mom is DOING SOMETHING WITHOUT HIM. If I leave the room without him, he often cries, as if he is saying, “How could you abandon me?” One day, I will be able to clean while my children are in the house. One day. For now, I have to ask my husband to take the kids out of the house and I have blissful peace to clean. I often clean while listening to Christian music or to Catholic radio, sometimes a rosary. I know my kids will grow out of this stage, but until they do, I guess my house won’t be very clean!

  3. Lisa and Anne, thank you for your comments!

    Anne, I remember when my boys were very little and, like yours, they would become very upset over my cleaning. My husband would take them to the park, and while they were enjoying the slides the vacuum cleaner and I went to work. However, when the boys were home their regular job was to scoop up blocks and legos and dump them into their containers. Hang in there, Anne, it gets much, much easier! May God bless your efforts each and every day!

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