Okay, I’m not exactly a scientist, but I’ve come up with some very compelling, logical excuses for my lack of fortitude in the area of housekeeping. You see, I come of hearty Dutch stock, noted for their extreme cleanliness, but I always seem to fall far short of the ideals my mother drilled into me every Saturday morning of my youth. But now I find that dirt is actually HEALTHY.
I reached this conclusion after some research into the causes of Crohn’s disease, which I live with. Crohn’s is in the same family of autoimmune deficiency diseases that includes rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. In these cases, antibodies, instead of fighting outside invaders, actually turn on the body and attack it in various ways. The cause of this mutiny is unknown, but I maintain that the little buggers are bored.
Let me explain.
I fit, exactly, the classic profile of a Crohn’s patient. Typically, we are firstborns, of immaculate housekeepers, from homes with no pets, breastfed only a short time or not at all, and we live in first-world countries. Consider, for a moment, the total lack of germs my body had to fight as a child: with no siblings messing up the place till I was almost three, no dog messing up the place till I was eight, and with mom Cloroxing my messes as quickly as I could make them, my immune system rarely had a job to do. And in America, it simply wasn’t (and isn’t) fashionable to nurse a baby, though we now know nursing is a huge immune-booster. In fact, I learned that in third-world countries – where people live over dirt and under thatch, with all varieties of animals coming and going at will, and where they nurse till age two or three – autoimmune deficiency diseases are virtually UNHEARD of!
So, with my newfound knowledge, I have embarked on a healthy new lifestyle (or rather, I’ve justified my negligence to date). I’ve always had a dog in the house, but now I see all that hair and drool as a beneficial part of our wellness program. I vacuum only enough to keep the dog hair from carrying away our sweaters. I dust every few months. And the kitchen spills, the dirty bathrooms, the soil ground into the tiles by the back door, they’re simply workout opportunities for my kids’ antibodies. Hopefully, this rebellion against my Dutch upbringing will compensate for any genetics my kids inherited from me. And scientific reasoning makes me feel so much better when my mother pops in for a visit.