I’m not really sure what I thought happened to the food that fell beneath the burners of our gas stove. I’ve lost pasta and veggies and other things over time, and I never really gave it much thought until Saturday when I dropped an entire strained pot of noodles on the stove, and lost a good portion of it. I thought to myself that I should check it out, and lo and behold, the top of our stove pops right up! Who knew? Clearly, not me. And definitely not my husband. And the food doesn’t get incinerated or anything when it falls under there either. Some of it chars, some of it congeals, and some of it just sits there and dries out, laying in wait for me to…well never clean it because I never had. It was an adventure, Saturday afternoon, scrubbing the underburner of my stove, scooping and scrubbing unidentified food, and caked on gravy(?), and who knows what the hell else. And we’ve only had this stove for a little more than a year. Could you imagine what it would look like after 5 years? There are things that you don’t learn about prior to becoming a grown-up, and when you do learn them, damn if they don’t take you by surprise.
Like for example, the joy that comes in potty training your youngest. Sure, you still have to wipe her poopy bum, but at least the poop is confined to the toilet. And she pees on her own like a champ, placing her potty seat just right on the toilet and peeing and wiping and doing a great job. You marvel at what an experienced pee-er she is. And you forget that sometimes, she pees in to the cracks of the seat. And at least twice a week, after cleaning the seat itself, as you’re hanging it on the hook that is a bit taller than you are, you get splashed in the face with cold urine. And you think to yourself: glamour.
Or, when you’re an experienced grown-up like me, you find the small things endearing. You didn’t wash last night’s dinner dishes, and so your husband has thoughtfully soaked the silverware in the pot you used to cook macaroni and cheese. “Two birds”, you think, because the cheesy pot and the spoons are soaking, making your job that much easier tomorrow. Until as you are washing the dishes, you dump the thoughtfully soaked silverware, along with the macaroni and cheese that was never put away, now thick and waterlogged, right in to your clean dish water. Dumbassery is easily disguised as helpfulness.
How about when you try to get ahead of the game and do some pre-thanksgiving cleaning? You scrub your bathroom sink and console with bleach, getting in all the cracks and crevices, cleaning the drain, the faucet, the unidentifiable grime that builds up behind the faucet, and spend about 30 good minutes doing it. At bedtime, your children will certainly leave toothpaste globs and hand grime and who knows what else all over the damn thing. And this is when you will realize that there is no such thing as pre-cleaning, and all cleaning, in order to be preserved, must be done within hours of the event. And even then, it’s a crap shoot.
Remember how when you moved in to your house at the age of 20, you thought painting the bathroom a pinky tan and installing glass shower doors was a fabulous idea? And how for the last 5 years you’ve been pining for new paint in the bathroom because the pinky tan was starting to remind you of Pepto? Your husband will get it in to his head to repaint right in the midst of pre-holiday cleaning. And what if he takes the glass doors off of the tub along with the track so we can give it a really good de-liming? This is how you will find yourself outside on a chilly fall afternoon, scrubbing shower doors that have been propped up on sawhorses. And you will wonder just what the hell you were thinking 12 years ago when going for the “no shower curtain” look. And the next day, the doors will still be outside in the rain, and you’ll wonder if your bathroom will be put together by the time guests arrive on Thanksgiving day.
This is not the romanticized grown-up life I dreamed of as a child. It’s almost comical how different it actually is. I’d say there should be a manual, or a textbook to study, but I know that my teenaged self would have never read it. Maybe it’s better just to be blindsided by the reality.