Sarah Simpson Column: Wielding a washcloth is a valuable skill

“Oh my God I’ve become my mother.”

That is something every woman — at some point in her life — says. It’s actually seen as kind of a negative thing for the most part; we are all shocked and dismayed that we’ve turned out exactly like the women we often cursed as teenagers.

More and more, though, I’m realizing it’s actually a good thing. In my case anyway.

The other morning I was making coffee in preparation for my morning walk. I get up early, before before my children wake up, and walk for four or five kilometres while listening to a podcast and drinking my coffee in peace before I start the chaos of the day. It feels good to get out into the fresh air and to hear the birds chirp and pretend that for an hour or so everything is right in the world. Anyway, that’s my routine.

I try to make my coffee and get out of the house really quickly so that my son doesn’t wake up and thwart my plans. He loves special one-on-one time with me in the morning and it’s hard to get away once he knows I’m awake. For maybe three or four days there I was waking up ahead of my alarm in anticipation of my alone time and having to go press start on the coffee machine before it automatically turned on.

The other day I was in a rush to get out and I found myself willing the coffee to percolate faster. I could not wait for it all to drip out so, whenever I thought I had enough coffee to fill my travel cup — it’s only 12 ounces — I would pull the carafe out of the machine and dump it in the cup only to realize there wasn’t enough. I’m sure you’ve done it, too.

Of course during that time coffee would drip out of the top of the machine and start sizzling on the bottom heating plate. I had to go grab a cloth and wipe the burner and the bottom of the carafe off and impatiently repeat the process until I had enough coffee in my cup to finally leave the house, all while looking over my shoulder for the boy.

I did this for several days. And then one day I got smart. I brought the cloth with me instead of having to scramble for one after the coffee started dripping everywhere. I pulled out the carafe, stuck the cloth on the hotplate to catch the drips, poured my coffee, moved the cloth, stuck the carafe back on the hotplate, and carried on. Not rocket science, but it worked.

It was that instance I realized that:

OMG. I am my mother.

My mom brings a cloth with her to the coffee machine every time she pours a cup. I thought it was just because she’s a clean-a-holic but now I see there’s actually a purpose. A quick wipe down when she pours her coffee prevents a bigger mess later.

In these uncertain world COVID-19 pandemic times, I couldn’t be happier to have become my mother. Growing up she taught my sister and I how to clean, how to effectively organize, and to believe that we were strong women, and that we didn’t need anybody to take care of us because we were capable of doing it ourselves.

With a single mom who worked, during the summers my sister and I had a list of things we were to clean before my mom got home from work every day.

It was a “do these things every Monday/Wednesday/Friday and do these other things every Tuesday/Thursday” split. Let me tell you, that list involved a lot of Windex and Pledge and vacumming. The living room at mom’s house, to this day, still has lines vacuumed in the carpet like a professionally manicured golf course.

No doubt, a big part of it was to teach us life skills, but I’m also sure it was to keep us busy and out of trouble. It also taught me, though, and I’m only realizing this later in my life, to take care of what you have. When you care for things they last longer. We’re fortunate to have the things we do and to not care for them would somehow disrespect our efforts to obtain them.

One thing I don’t care for, though, is germs, and so I’m super glad I know how to wield a scrub brush and a mop and how to wipe down an entire house from top to bottom in 15 minutes or less. I owe all of those skills to my momma. It’s that type of diligence that’s going to keep us safe through this COVID crisis.

I used to see bringing a cloth to the coffee maker as an odd compulsion, but now I do it too, not just because it’s practical, but because in one small way, it’s an ode to my mom.

ColumnistComedy and Humour

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