Are Housekeeping Skills Inherited?

My daughter just told me she's hired someone to clean her house. I'm so proud of her.

With a job, husband and baby, she needs a cleaning lady. Maybe a whole fleet of them. And I know why. I never taught her to clean.

I couldn't teach her. Because my mother never taught me how to clean. Oh, I learned how to iron, and I can out-iron almost everyone. If there's ever an ironing marathon, I win.

Laundry? Not a clue. Loading the dishwasher? Curt won't let me. He says I have no idea how dishes are supposed to line up inside the machine.

Sometimes I destroy the dishes while they're still in the cupboard. They've been known to just fall out, crashing to the floor, waiting to be swept up. I bought some of that rubbery stuff to line the cupboards so dishes wouldn't slide out. They slide out. And I have enough of the rubbery stuff to cover the runway at Barnes Airport. I overestimated the size of cupboards.

Curt really couldn't understand, when we were first married and he first noticed, that I did not, could not, operate a broom. It was his broom. It arrived on the moving truck when it arrived at our first home. Well, actually, the moving company sent a pickup truck to deliver our goods, which were few. But Curt had been sure to ship his broom.

I had accused him, before we were married, of having a very sterile apartment. It was, and I should have known I was in trouble at this point. It was clean. Very clean.

My apartment was not. In fact, the burglar alarm went off one day and the police called me to say my apartment had been vandalized. I raced home, only to find that it had not been vandalized. It looked just like it had when I went to work that morning.

Now, 35 years later, he finally realizes any efforts on my behalf to learn the intricacies of cleaning are hopeless. And, luckily, his mother taught him well. He can mop and sweep and vacuum and, successfully, clean almost anything.

Oh, I've tried. But windows always streak, pans stay stained, the litter box makes me nauseous, and I wouldn't dream of touching dirty plumbing.

My daughter recently told me that she never threw up when she was pregnant. Because she kept remembering that, when she was a child, I told her she wasn't allowed to throw up. (I would have been unable to clean it up without throwing up myself.) And she never has. Thrown up, that is. She has a very strong will.

In full disclosure, I admit that I actually found and got out the vacuum and that I tried to vacuum up a mess a few weeks ago. But I couldn't figure out how to turn the vacuum on. We've only had it five or six years.

Now, I don't remember dust or dirt or clutter in our house growing up. But I also don't remember my mother, who worked, dusting or vacuuming or cleaning. It was pre-dishwashers, so I do remember washing dishes. I remember mowing the lawn. And weeding dandelions. But cleaning? Never.

A friend of mine, one of nine children, remembers living in chaos. And never learning to clean, either. Aha! She doesn't know how to iron!

Today, she says, her own daughter lives in chaos.

Actually, again in full disclosure, I don't intend to learn how to clean anytime soon. I prefer to follow the credo that if you don't see it you're not responsible for it.

Even if I look for it, I don't see it. Even if I step in it, I don't see it. It's a very good system.

Well, I can cook. Very well. Except for Christmas cookies. But that's another story. And, yes, iron. And, like my mother, I can type faster than almost anyone. I can run for office and win, give speeches and organize my office, file legislation and serve on conference committees, make decisions about how the state spends its money, and balance checkbooks, too.

But, I cannot clean. And, it's taken me a few decades to realize it, but cleaning just isn't important to me. There's more important stuff to do.

I'm proud of my daughter. I taught her well.

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