When it comes to domesticity, nothing brings enthusiasm to a screeching halt like the subject of cleaning.
Oh we homemakers love the baking, the cooking, the crafting and the decorating. But cleaning? Mundane, routine, boring, exhausting.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to lecture about finding the positive aspects of scrubbing a floor. Maybe that works in the moment, but certainly doesn’t overcome the feeling that cleaning is something that is better left for tomorrow – and you know what they say about domani.
It took me a long time to come to terms with cleaning…or not cleaning…mostly because there is no justice in the subject, particularly for women. You have to clean messes you didn’t make. Sometimes you have to clean when you can barely see the dirt, knowing that dirt begets dirt, even though you don’t get the satisfaction of seeing a noticeable improvement. And don’t get me started on the sisyphean task of doing laundry.
Strangely, it is women who are hardest on each other when it comes to housecleaning. I suppose it’s because most guys are perfectly happy to live in chaos so long as the television remote can be found. And while guys can find the most creative ways to turn anything into a competition, a bacteria-free living space is not among them. Conversely women can be downright smug about being cleaner or, God help us all, The Cleanest.
Even stranger is the fact that I find the most critical among us are women who have a cleaning person, I suppose meaning that, while they don’t have the gumption to bend at the waist themselves, at least their standards are above the rest of us slobs.
It may come as a comfort to my fellow slobs to know that we are actually more akin to the obsessively tidy than they would like to believe. Both of us want to achieve sanitary perfection but, while the obsessives are constantly striving for it to the point of compulsion, we know it will never be achieved and just give up.
While we all have had times that household chaos drowns us in waves of everyday detritus, it would be nice if we recognized when someone truly has a problem manifesting itself in a messy house, but rooted in something far deeper like depression or illness. While I love to watch the show How Clean is Your House, if only to assure myself that at least I’m not that bad, it doesn’t take a psychiatric therapist to know most of these people would do better to see one.
That being said, and since Kim and Aggie aren’t going to fly over here with their team and turn my house into a showplace, I have come to terms with the fact that I’ll just have to do it myself.
Yes, yes, there is a certain amount of designation around here. My boys are responsible (in theory only, sometimes) for their bathroom and do their own laundry. Dirtman is good about spot vacuuming (an absolute necessity with four dogs), throwing in a load of laundry now and then, helping with the dishes and, rarely, but it has happened a few times in twenty years, making the bed.
I accept, though, that as the designated homemaker, the bulk of the chores are mine and, frankly, I’m the only one who sees when the toilet paper roll needs to be replaced or the cat threw up in the corner. Men are genetically incapable of these two tasks, at least the ones around here.
I have what I call a “light routine.” Too rigid and I know I will revolt. Certain areas are done certain days and, if the schedule won’t allow it, it’s not. Somewhere in the rotation it will all get done, along with a quick vacuum here and there, and that’s what I can live with.
Anyone can come over anytime without absolute panic setting in, so long as they’re okay with the fact that: 1.) four people live in this house and we do more than sit in a chair; 2.) four dogs live in this house and sometime between the 2 p.m vacuuming and now they have probably shed on the carpet; and 3.) two teenagers live in this house and their idea of “cleaning up” means they’ve left crumbs on the counter and a filthy pan full of water in the sink because “I left it to soak.”
Oh – and I promise not to judge your house when I come to visit because I’d much rather think you are living your life in your house and not for your house.