Evolution of a House-not-wife

Possible things have endings – you know, that time that comes and tells you that you have done it, that you have accomplished something. It doesn’t happen when you are trying to maintain a livable home. Housework is not a possible thing because it is never done, not for long enough to count anyway. After twelve years of keeping a home for my family, I’m still not really okay with that. These people (my partner and kids) just keep messing up my house.

But for sanity’s sake, my attitude about housework has evolved over the years:

12 years ago:  It’s my job to create a safe, fun environment for the kids to play and live in. I’m smart and resourceful.  It’s just a matter of getting organized and using my time efficiently. How hard can it be?

11 ½ years:  God must hate me. I don’t think I’ve slept since April. The kids don’t even give me time to go to the bathroom. I have Play Doh in my hair and I’ve been wearing the same sweats for three days. I’m a failure.

11 years ago:  I did it! Look, I did it! The house is clean. The clothes are clean, folded with socks all matched and put away. The pantry is well stocked and I remembered everything at the grocery store. The children are clean and happy, the toys are put away, and supper is on the stove. My Partner will come home from work to a happy, peaceful home. I’m a little nauseous and that 9th cup of coffee on an empty stomach was probably a mistake, but my house is clean!

What was that noise?

10 ½ years ago:   This is hopeless. It doesn’t matter what I do because 20 minutes later or tomorrow, I’m going to have to do it again.  And just when I almost have everything done for the day, somebody spills something. Or vomits. Or breaks something or dumps out all the Legos on the stairs or climbs a baby gate and ransacks the kitchen while I was picking up Legos. If I have to get up and do it all again tomorrow, I think I’ll shoot myself.

10 years ago:  The degree of order and cleanliness in our house is NOT a reflection of my competence as a parent or a measure of my self-worth as a human being. At least that’s what my Partner says.

She also says it’s okay to let some things go. A home with children is, by nature, chaotic. And chaos is okay. I can learn to live with chaos.

So today, I’m letting go of the housework. Look, this is me, letting go of the housework. It will keep. The boys are going to remember when I sat down and played with them not how clean the house was. I want them to remember me playing Legos with them and making sock puppets, not mopping the floor. That sounds good.

But who is actually going to mop the floor?

5 years ago:  The most intellectually challenging thing I did today was try to figure out how to remove a red Kool-Aid stain from car upholstery. I have dishpan hands. I smell bleach in my sleep. I haven’t read a grown-up book in months. I’m pretty sure I can hear neural pathways shutting down in my brain. I’m going to be a vegetable by the time the little boys get to middle school. I really need a hobby.

yesterday:

Middle Boy:  “I think the cat vomited in the living room.”

Me:  “Oh. Just put a paper towel over it. I’ll get it later.”

Middle:  “That’s what you told me yesterday. It’s still there.”

Me:  “Then it’s not going anywhere, is it?”

Middle:  “But…”

Me:  “I’m trying to write here, sweetie.”

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8 Comments

  1. Cedar Kennan

     /  January 23, 2012

    I loved this, because the structure of it shows how the work goes on and on for years, yet perfectly encapsulated the range of feelings I have in just one day. Nice work!

    Reply
    • Thanks! I tinkered with this one forever trying to capture that Merry-Go-Round ride effect (up and down constantly until you come full circle). Glad you liked it!

      Reply
  2. papermudandme

     /  February 11, 2012

    Good post. Entertaining, informative, and most important of all very, very human. I was there with you the whole way.

    Reply
  3. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Reply
  4. Wow! This is so real. Scary that I can relate, but glad I don’t feel so alone in the world anymore. 🙂

    Posted it to my facebook wall to share.

    Reply
    • I felt pretty alone with it those first couple of years. But then I remembered Erma Bombeck and figured I would probably survive. Thanks for sharing! I got a lot of hits on this from your friends.

      Reply
  5. papermudandme

     /  February 20, 2012

    I know what you mean. There is nothing that will not try to keep a writer from writing. And then when you think you have some quite and will get something done you start day dreaming and an hour later you get up and say you are suffering from writers block.

    Reply
    • Exactly. I seem to have an abundance of ideas while I’m driving the kids to school in the morning but when I get back and sit down with my coffee, it’s anybody’s guess whether I’ll actually get an essay started or just daydream, play online and finally get up when my cup is empty and clean the house.

      Reply

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