Although I never longed to be an empty nester back when we were raising the kids, I did ponder the prospect from time to time.

I wondered what it would be like to have a clean car, a quiet kitchen and to actually find the remote to the TV in the same place where I had left it. I thought about a day when there wouldn’t be dirty clothes in the living room and electronic devices lurking about, and my phone charger would still plugged in by my bed, just how I like it.

What I thought about the most was the almost inconceivable idea of a clean house. I didn’t think about it all of the time, you understand, just when I tripped over the oversized sneakers in the back hall, or when I got my feet rolled out from under me by a stray basketball.

Back in those days, the dust was often thick, the spaces were cluttered, and unless dirty laundry was the new theme for the decorative niche at the bottom of the stairs, it became quite apparent that things were once again getting out of control.

Those four sons of ours helped out with the cleaning, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t say they were bad at it, but I did have to tell them more than once that you can’t make one swipe through a room with an appliance and call it vacuuming.

I conducted detailed demonstrations for the fam. I had, “Bend and Retrieve,” “The toilet spindle and its purpose,” and my all-time favorite, “You too can load a dishwasher.”

Time moved by all too quickly and now they are all out on their own. My heart breaks every time they leave. I stand in the driveway and watch them go off into the sunset to homes far away from their loving mother.

“What kind of home do I reside in, in their absence?” you might ask. Is it a sterile existence, void of dirty dishes and balled-up dirty socks? A home with some semblance of order, organized cabinets and glistening windows? Well folks, I’m sad to say it, but that’s going to be a no.

As I write, I have dishes in the sink, two loads of dirty laundry to do, and I just realized that some bamboozler wrote the date in the dust in the foyer.

Although I no longer find empty milk cartons in the fridge or barren pop tart boxes in the cupboard, there are leftovers that need tossed and I need to give up the dream that someone someday will be hungry enough to eat that bag of stale chips.

It truly isn’t that bad around here and most folks wouldn’t even see the things that I see when I walk into a room. But it’s hard to stay on top of the dog hair that’s peeking out from under the couch, the spider webs in the corners and the dust bunny that’s apparently raising a family under the bed in the guest bedroom.

I guess that keeping a place shipshape and top notch takes a little more time than I’m willing to put into it. While I would love to have that perfectly clean house, there are things I’d rather do. I like to walk with the neighbor, work in our antique shop and spend as much time going to see those sons and our beautiful daughter-in-law as possible.

As I looked at our house that’s tidy but not shipshape, it caused me to reflect on the words of our then 15-year-old Vernon when we were preparing for a neat freak family friend who was coming for the weekend, “We live and we breathe, why must we apologize for that?”

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