Washing My Writer’s Window

The Question: Have I Seen the Hand of God Reaching Out To Touch Us Today?

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably noticed my writing growing shorter the past few months. As the summer wore me down, I posted more visual aids to tell my story and share my feelings. As a result, I’m a better photographer; yet, I’m a writer for a reason—writing is therapeutic. I need to write.

We labored on Labor Day weekend by washing the 70 windows in our house—as a family. Yes, it is an overwhelming image.

I don’t know what was more laborious, the physical work or the emotional cheerleading. Don’t try to imagine me in a short skirt waving pom poms to enthuse everyone; it wasn’t me who wore that hat. In fact, my emotions weren’t attractive.

Normally, I wash windows in the spring. When our time filled, I planned to do it in the fall.

By the way, I love my windows, and I even love washing them. They are H-windows and pivot on a hinge in the middle of the window. I can stand inside, push the window open, and flip it 180 degrees to turn the outside glass toward the inside. I wash most of the windows, even the two-story ones, this way from the inside without a ladder. The tallest windows in our living room and attic crow’s nest, however, are not operable and must be washed from a ladder.

This year, I asked for help from our capable kids. Capable, yes, but not so willing to work on their last days of freedom. My expectations ruined theirs.

Paul took our teenager to help him with the tall outside windows while I worked with the two younger ones on the inside. I taught my son the whole process: first, take the screen out, vacuum the screen, wipe the screen, then vacuum the windowsill, wipe the windowsill, dip the rag in the cleaning solution while holding the rag over another rag to prevent dripping on the floors, wash the glass, squeegee off the water, wipe the squeegee with a dry rag between each pass, and finish with a dry paper towels on the spots the squeegee missed.

I sent him to wash the windows ahead of me while I retaught the process to our youngest daughter. If this teaching moment lasted I would be reciting, “Train up a child in the way he should go. . .”.

Except, my son had questions about streaking. When I went to answer him, the outside helpers needed something. When I got back to my daughter, she had to redo what she’d done.

I could go on describing how hard it was to manage my emotions. But, unlike a mother who has to go on despite the stresses, when I write, I can end it whenever I want. Let’s just say that all the windows are clean enough for a bird to mistake them for clear sky and our family still loves each other.

Can opposition be a source of illumination? I feel muddied by such negative experiences, and light and understanding seem far away. But if it leads me to admit my errors, especially to my husband and children and seek their forgiveness, then it is a cleansing of a more important kind.

1 Comment

  1. Ryan
    Sep 4, 2008

    I think you’re right–opposition can teach us, especially if we’re willing. It’s that hindsight thing … and a little kicking yourself for it afterwards.

    I hope you’re not kicking yourself though … I hope you’re just grateful for the amazing greenery around you.

    Seriously, every time you post pictures, my wife and I have to ask each other why we’re not living there. We’ve actually put it on our list of places we want to live. Know of any job openings?

    I loved the article–had a lot of good parallels–a very enjoyable read. Thanks.

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