My friend plopped down on the seat next to me at the restaurant. We were out for a rare but much-needed Saturday afternoon lunch date.
She took a sip of her Bloody Mary, passed me her olives, and began to gab.
"Everyone was pissing me off today. I woke up mad, and it only got worse."
I speared her discarded olives and plopped them into my dirty martini, took a swig and smiled. "I know exactly how that feels. Some days it's like that's their job, right? 'Let's make mom insane.' What did you do about it?"
She smiled, the crafty smile of a mom who is enjoying an afternoon of freedom, a good cocktail and the companionship of a friend. And then she said:
"I cleaned. I started in the kitchen and I cleaned the sh*t out of that house. And then I called you."
I laughed, dipped a french fry in some ketchup and took a bite.
"Ahhh... yes. The Rage Clean. I know it all too well."
THE RAGE CLEAN. Cleaning when angry. I'm not a huge fan of housework in general, and most days I just do enough to keep things presentable. But there's something about being mad that gets me all hot and bothered. As my temper flares, messes that need conquering almost glow with a heavenly aura in front of me. The dishwasher gets emptied with loud purposefulness. Dust is sprayed and wiped with forceful intent. Shoes are deposited by the front door with angry aplomb. Baseboards are scrubbed, the Swiffer gets abused and the toilets? Those mother effers GLEAM when I'm done with them.
And the wonder of it all is, that when I'm done cleaning, I'm also done being mad. Win/win (and unlike traditional therapy, no copay!).
Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?) I don't get mad very often. Maybe I should keep a pile of things that need dusting or folding in the car, because that tends to be the place I rage most often.
But back to the restaurant, the moms and the cocktails. We cackled mightily about the phenomenon known as Rage Cleaning. We shared what sets us off most often (for both of us: the kids not helping as much as they should and coming home to a messy house after a long, tiring day of work. For her: her husband not helping as much as he should). We wondered if we were alone in our Rage Cleaning... and then two of our friends showed up.
The first friend was another mom, and YES, BY GOD she knew all about the angry cleaning. She regaled us with tales of her terrified children running ahead of her, picking up toys and clothes and oh, the humanity, the SOCKS. Seems that socks are the trigger for her. And I understand that one. I find socks everywhere: balled up in the couch, shoved under the vanity in the bathroom, lounging very casually on the stairs leading down to the lower level where the boys and their friends dwell. Very rarely do I find them in pairs. Yes, socks are rage inducers for sure.
Our second friend, though, surprised us.
He is young. Like, in his 20's young. And single.
Here's the kicker: He not only knew all about Rage Cleaning... he had just done some that morning! He told us about his roommates and their utter inability to clean up after themselves. And so, he Rage Cleaned the kitchen in his apartment.
Rage Cleaning transcends gender, age and marital status. It affects married people, divorced people and single people. Young and old alike who feel their blood pressure rising take it all out on dust and clutter.
It even happens in the movies! I watched American Hustle the other night, and the scene below made me laugh out loud. I thought about my rage cleaning sisters and brothers and reminded myself to crank some '70s tunes during my next episode of angry dusting:
JLaw rocked those yellow rubber gloves, yes?
How about you? Have you ever Rage Cleaned? Please share your stories. It helps to know we're not alone.
This post originally appeared on Jennifer's blog, The Happy Hausfrau.