Going from a multi-gender family to a single-gender family requires many adjustments for moms. When my daughters are home, the bathroom becomes carpeted with long hair, and bathroom drains need to be cleaned frequently. The countertop has to be scoured to remove residue from hair products that missed their intended target. But the room smells wonderful, and no clothes are littered over the floor when they are done.
While neither gender is good about keeping rooms clean, my daughters tend to do laundry more often, iron more frequently and leave fewer banana peels in hidden trash cans. When my girls do clean their rooms, they actually dust and vacuum. My boys clean their rooms by putting all their clothes that are not in drawers into a laundry basket.
Our activities range from games to books to movies or going places when my daughters are home. The movies are usually comedies or dramas. But when they leave we turn into a full-fledged boy home, and every activity involves dirt. Sporting equipment is stashed in every corner of every room. Dirty shoes are piled just inside the front and back doors, along with jackets, backpacks, fishing poles and baseball bats to complete the obstacle sure to trip mom when I come in carrying two armloads of groceries.
On a good day they might carry their filthy gear as far as the kitchen table. There's nothing like starting to clear the table for dinner only to uncover the skull of some woodland creature or a tarantula staring back at me from inside a mayonnaise jar.
My boys leave food in every room of the house. There are bowls and cups, glasses and plates scattered about waiting for the housekeeping fairy to come pick them up. Every visible surface in their rooms eventually becomes buried under shirts, towels and socks that should have been placed in one of the many laundry baskets in the house. There they remain growing mold until the odor of these toxic waste dumps drifts downstairs and I order the boys to "clean" their rooms.
Life is constantly changing and a mom must learn to go with the flow of the family. I've learned to become excited over fish hanging on stringers. I can put worms on hooks with aplomb. I can cheer for a little boy covered in dirt after he jumps to catch a baseball. And I have learned not to get too grossed out when I look into my coffee cup only to realize that once again my boys have emptied the dishwasher before it ran.
My daughters will be home soon. They will take up the cause of teaching their brothers the art of civilized living. For a brief moment, a slightly higher standard of sanitation will be practiced in our home. But if history's any predictor, a minnow bucket full of tadpoles will be back on the kitchen table the moment the girls leave.