Sunday, March 26, 2017

Liberation


You’re a good housekeeper, Anita. Complimentary words for most women; stinging for others - like me.

My dear friend smiled as she expressed her opinion of me (hopefully, not her primary opinion) after I described my new cleaning routine inspired by Marie Kondo, the organization guru. Basically, Kondo categorizes an area to tackle and complete before moving on to another. She advises her clients and readers to begin with clothes – throughout the entire house. I attempt to use use the concept to clean, doing one type of weekly chore per day. Monday is fairly easy – bathtubs and showers, including a sporadic drain cleaning when necessary.

So I’m telling my friend, with a slight bit of enthusiasm, talking myself into believing I enjoy my new discovery that makes cleaning not so bad, and that’s when she says it. Ouch! I’ve been reduced to a housekeeper.

Did I lead her on with that slight bit of enthusiasm, subconsciously seeking approval? She who has cleaning help, who doesn’t need advice on how to lessen the drudgery of cleaning shower stalls and toilets. It was not my intent.  In my mind, I’d revised my mission statement after reading Kondo’s book, outlined a strategic plan and was describing the analytical process; proving I had the bandwidth to implement the optimization of housework – a system I can apply to other life issues as well.

Well, no more! (A line stolen from an infomercial.)

It’s now Monday morning. Havoc from the weekend exists. My husband’s jackets are hung on the backs of kitchen chairs. His stack of work papers are on the table, briefcase in the chair, various newspapers and magazines strewn about. My daughter’s backpack and textbooks are in their permanent residency, the window seat adjacent to the table, which is resting place for markers, colored paper, a stapler, a laptop, and miscellaneous supplies used for an assigned class project. Other household areas exhibit similar embellishments.

In the past, I’d begin the straightening routine, a job that was ingrained in my psyche throughout my life by my adoring-adorable mother and practically every woman I’ve met. The subliminal message says: It’s your job and you are judged by the condition of your home’s interior. Conversely, Darling Husband (aka DH) is judged by the exterior.

I never contested this rule; especially when I married, left corporate America, and worked on getting pregnant. The abode was tiny, my time was flexible, and it was just us two. What’s a few dishes to put in the dishwasher and a few loads of laundry to wash? I can do that, plus pay bills, make grocery runs, cook, go see the dentist for my semiannual teeth cleaning… oh, and the gyno. Easy peasy. Well… there was that whole thing, too, of being disoriented while getting acclimated to a new city and married life.

Anyway, Girl #1 didn’t take long at all to get here, but I continued my modus operandi. And then we moved and the square footage increased. And then we had Girl #2 and then Girl #3 two years later and moved again and the square footage ballooned and so did the diapers and chores. And I was almost six years older since the wedding; however, cleaning help (gift from DH) entered the equation, so the surface dirt was removed every two weeks. Still, my modus operandi remained on track, plus some.

To speed up this story: the help lasted ten years, we got a dog, the kids became tweens and teens, the activities increased, the mom taxi became an SUV and then a van, and the husband began to travel more. The presumed cleaning help from the able-bodied, on-the-go kids did not happen in copious amounts. DH got a pass because he did, and still does, his manly job of gardening and easy job of taking out the trash. Actually, he's known to occasionally run the vacuum and pick up a sponge. AND, he takes his turn taking out the dog! Mwah!

We are now down to three residents, except when Girl #1 and Girl #2 are home from college. Things still have to be cleaned so we don’t acquire non-human residents and so the house doesn’t decay and fall apart. I will try to stick stick to my cleaning routine; however, there will be no exasperation over sheets that are due to be changed, shoes scattered everywhere, my messy desk, junk mail and newspapers on multiple surfaces, and sticky stuff on the refrigeration shelf.


There’s something about being on the cusp of entering another decade of life that calls for reassessment. Sixty is approaching. I’ve paid my stay-at-home mom and housekeeper dues. I don’t owe any more. What I give now is when and how I choose. Other things are upon the horizon.

10 comments:

Tabor said...

I am wondering if it is time for me to get a bimonthly housekeeper. I can afford it, but I really need the physical activity or I will become a true slug. I like clean things...while not truly averse to cleaning, but as I enter 70, I am not so sure.

joeh said...

As long as you stay healthy, the sixties are the best years ever!

Anthony Martin said...

God how I love being single!!! (From your your DBIL...Dear Brother-in-Law)... LOL!!!

Mari said...

I used to use a similar cleaning plan when I was home more. Now I am at work so much and the last thing I want to do after a 12 hour day is to clean the bathroom. Instead I cram it into my day off. But, my house isn't as clean as it was with that plan!

bettyl-NZ said...

I have to say that I like being organized and when I lived by myself, it was great. Cleaning is part of life and I have realized that there are no 'cleaning police' so it doesn't really matter when I do what.
But now that I'm married again, Hubby isn't at all fussed about cleaning. He notices now and then and thanks me but, as long as he doesn't complain, I'm good.

Linda Hensley said...

A friend's mom once told me she always checks other women's stoves for cleanliness because she could determine the cleanliness of the rest of the house by just the stove. My stove is always clean. Don't look at the rest of the house. And don't worry, I'm not judging you by your bathroom drains :)

Abby said...

You and I are in similar life stages. As much as I don't care for the term "homemaker", I felt it best described my purpose when our kids were little. Cleaning was a necessity because, if I didn't do it, someone might die.

Now, I don't feel nearly as responsible for it from a life-or-death standpoint. It's more about liking the environment I move around in. Whatever works to motivate, I suppose! On the surface, it's still toilets and drains...

ShadowRun300 said...

When my kids were little I totally fell for the stigma that a good mom and wife has a clean, uncluttered, well-kept house. The pressure I put on myself, and therefore my four young kids was overwhelming. I was often short-tempered and very stressed.
One day, I suddenly gave up trying to keep an immaculate home. It was soooo freeing! To this day, I only do enough housework to keep non-humans from residing with us, at least for long periods of time. ;)

LL Cool Joe said...

Good for you!

Because I'm a dj and work nights, and my partner has a full time demanding job, sadly I have to do the housework and the garden and any diy jobs. I do it all and no one notices until I don't do it. Saying that, I do the minimum, and both the garden and the inside may be tidy but far from clean.

Munir said...

I always believe in keeping our place clean. Lately though it is feeling like a very tiring task partly because I am getting old and partly because the hubby does not want to help himself and ad a result I get tired.