Go down to the laundry room in the basement and start a load of wash. Go back upstairs.
Dump out your cold coffee and pour a third cup. Your kitchen is already clean—you clean it three times a day, after every meal. On Saturday you scrub the floor. Fill a bucket with hot water and Lysol, start at the sink and work your way backwards, scrubbing the floor on your hands and knees. Curse the old linoleum that has no finish left on it. Yell at the first kid brave enough to come downstairs, “Don’t you dare come in here, the floor is wet!”
Leave the bucket at the doorway and go down to the basement. Put the clean wash in the dryer. Start another load in the washer. Go back upstairs.
All the kids are in the living room now watching cartoons, shivering under afghans you’ve knitted and eating dry cereal out of the box. Tell them if they make one speck of dirt you’ll paddle their behinds—but good! Find your cold coffee, dump it out, pour a fourth cup and sit at the kitchen table to drink it.
Get up, splash some liquid wax on the floor and spread it around with a sponge mop. Finish your coffee while the wax dries. Then, give each of the kids a pair of their father’s wool socks to put on their feet and tell them to skate around on the kitchen floor to polish the wax. It’s not necessary, but it’s fun for them and their laughing makes you smile.
Close all the windows and doors and turn the heat back on.
Judith Liebaert is a freelance writer living in rural Wisconsin, where she is restoring an 11-foot vintage Decamp travel trailer to use for her escape with Gypsy Cat. Aside from her regular gigs writing for regional B2B mags, her short stories and essays have appeared in Aqueous Magazine, Maximum Middle Age, and Ravishly along with numerous now defunct lit-mags pre the interwebs. Her debut novel, Sins Of The Fathers, was released by Tellectual Press on June 18, 2016, a story inspired by the still unsolved homicide of a young boy in her small Midwestern town, in the summer of 1966.