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Editor's Note: A little dirt won't hurt, after all

Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

When I was an infant, my mother tells me, I would pull tissues out of their boxes and use them to dust the furniture.

I don’t remember that, but I do remember when dusting the shelves in my parents’ grocery store was my “job.” I was about 4, and took great pride in tidying the lowest two shelves, the only ones I could reach.

My oldest son also loved to clean when he was little; after watching him struggle with the vacuum cleaner, a friend suggested we get him a toy vacuum. Instead, we found a little, lightweight one – if the kid was going to be pushing a vacuum, it might as well be getting the floor clean.

Sadly, like me, he grew out of it. By the time I reached my teens, my mother used to look in the disaster that was my bedroom and sigh as she recalled the days of my tissue-box dusting.

What’s weird is, once I left home and had my own house, I started wanting to clean again. It’s not that I enjoy the process so much, but I love a clean house smell, and remembering that, oh yeah, there’s a pretty nice table under all those cups/toys/art sets.

Unfortunately, I have an 8-year-old and a 2-year-old. Erma Bombeck once famously wrote, “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” Amen, sister.

My kids are pretty good – the 2-year-old is now in his version of the “cleaning is fun” phase, and the 8-year-old cleans up when he’s told. But I still come home some days and wonder if every drawer and container in the house suddenly rejected its contents and spewed them across the floor.

As I write this, a professional crew is cleaning the carpets at my house. That came about because my older son asked me to use our small carpet shampooer on a dark stain in the living room. I obliged, and when we were done, the dark stain was gone.

In its place was what looked like a pale stain. My heart sank as I realized that was no stain at all; it was a clean spot, and the rest of the carpet just looked dark by comparison.

The snow hasn’t stopped, Erma, but we’re shoveling like crazy just to keep our heads above the drifts.

Two years ago, my husband, amazing man that he is, hired a cleaning service to spring clean the house for me. I was so excited – all of those little deep-cleaning things I never have the time or energy for, clean! The end result without the long process!

Unfortunately, I forgot to tell them about one carefully-preserved bit of grime – a handprint on my bedroom mirror.

It was made by my now-8-year-old’s chubby little hand when he was about six months old, and he used to love talking to the baby in the mirror. It was such a complete and perfect handprint, as his hands rapidly grew, I could never bear to wipe it away, so I always cleaned around it.

The cleaning lady, blissfully uninformed, had no such qualms.

Maybe a little dirt, here and there, isn’t such a bad thing.

Enjoy your MidWeek.

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