Lauren’s spring cleaning

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 18, 2004

Ronny Keller Michel

Spring cleaning has a different look this year at the home of the Michels. We are anxiously, and very happily, anticipating Monique’s arrival at the end of May. With only one semester left of college, she doesn’t want to find another roommate when her cousin, Kerri, moves out so she’s coming home and we are busy making room for her. I’ll spare you the details, but basically it means that no child’s bedroom went untouched.

There weren’t many surprises during our spring cleanup. I knew that the kids had too much clothes and they happily bagged what they no longer wear and sent it to Goodwill. We were on a roll, sorting and cleaning, until I heard my son, Geoffrey, “Mama, wait until you see this.” He and my husband had been given the task of moving Lauren’s bed into another room. If there is a record for running up my stairs, I easily broke it.

Although her room looked clean, underneath her bed we found a PE shirt, shoes, crayons (I can’t figure that out!) socks, socks, and more socks. “I’ve been wondering where all of my socks were,” Geoff said in amazement as we surveyed the white pile.

It didn’t stop there. Lauren’s high headboard is at an angle in one corner of the room. Once the headboard was removed we found more clothes. But it wasn’t just her clothes. Monique was unusually calm upon discovering two of her shirts. Geoff found one of his sweatshirts. At this point, I announced that Lauren’s cell phone would be taken away until the end of the summer. She was not home, therefore unable to defend herself, but Monique and Geoff told me that was too harsh a punishment. My husband, Michael, agreed. Then I held up another item that Lauren has tossed behind her headboard. “That’s my favorite sweatshirt!” Michael exclaimed.

“Then you decide on her consequences for this room. I’m staying out of it. Besides, she didn’t take any of my clothes.” As I said this, I realized that in a weird kind of way, I was feeling sad about not having clothes that my fourteen-year-old daughter would want. I mean, she even had her father’s clothes.

I walked away wondering how a room that looked so neat could hide so much stuff. At this point, I began to examine the unseen areas of my heart. How awful it would be to try to hide things there. I wanted to be sure that underneath my church activities there wasn’t spiritual pride. I checked behind my actions to see if any selfish motives were hiding there, and I even threw out an old argument that I had been holding onto. Then I checked to be sure that all of my priorities were in the right place.

By the end of the day, Lauren had moved into her new room. (The headboard now touches the wall.) “Mama,” she said before going to bed, “I feel so free knowing that everything is in the right place and nothing is hidden.”

Yes, Lauren. I thought. I know exactly how you feel.