I have discovered a new cleaning remedy, rather, finally bought it and started using it. It is called Bar Keeper's Friend. It's a white powder that comes in a cylindrical container that looks a whole lot like Comet (does anyone even use Comet any more?) I have joked with my husband that it is probably Comet, rebranded to look hipper. This white powder is magic. It removes stains, burnt-on grease, funky deposits. It made my stainless steel frying pan look like new. It removes scuff marks off the ceramic cooktop. It made my sink gleam and shine like a commercial.
Look at this! What's not to like? Why have I not bought this product sooner? Tell your friends!
Except that I happen to know myself. Housekeeping and keeping a clean pristine sparkly shiny house is nowhere on my list of priorities. I clean and get kids to clean once a week, for shabbos. Some of my kids complain that even that is too much. I have no problem going to sleep with a sink full of dirty dishes, mask-making scraps all over the floor, living room not straightened up. Nobody is visiting, nobody had come over in months, so there is no external need to clean that I can pin it on.
Where is this urge to clean coming from?
I have learned that whenever I end up super-focusing on keeping external in order, even going to the extremes, the cause is the things that I cannot control. I cannot control Corona. I cannot control my kids from getting coughs, colds, fevers. I cannot control what other parents do about their kids, whether they are just as scrupulous about masks and exposure as I am. I cannot control this year's Rosh HaShana experience, neither for myself nor for the kids. Yesterday the power went out for a bit, and I could not get a head start on dinner on that gleaming electric stove.
I am spinning further and further in the world where there are things I cannot control. But I can polish that stupid bit of sink, burn off those stains, vacuum up those cloth clippings. Do those things make me feel better? Are they a healthy sublimation of frustration? Better to focus on the things that I can fret over myself instead of suddenly coming down on my kids with high cleaning standards.
I have been thinking how Rosh HaShanah is almost here but I am involved in Pesach-like activity of cleaning and burning. For recognizing that Hashem is the One in charge (and I am not), I might be doing quite well. Then I wonder whether substituting external cleaning for internal reflection is not exactly where the spirit of the day lies. But this cleaning spree resulted in me thinking and pondering how I arrived here, jolted me awake from survival slumber.
So buy Bar Keeper's Friend and see where it lands you.