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A Clean House Is…Probably My Neighbor’s

Apr
13
2006

Housework is the opposite of dreaming: boring as hell to do, but interesting to talk about. Not, I mean, to talk about in a “daytime TV commercial what cleans shines and deodorizes better thanever” way, but about how it’s such an annoying task in families’ lives and that solutions are few.

As the New York Times says in this past Sunday’s article tackling the subject:

“Forty years after feminism promised to free women from drudgery, we are still talking about housework, and we are still talking as if it were all about women.”

Except feminism has been looking at women’s drudgery for even longer than 40 years, having similar conversations again and again. I couldn’t help reading the Times article (tipped to it by Salon’s Broadsheet), as I can’t help reading other articles that appear, because surely there must be some solution out there apart from having full-time maids, nannies and life planners.

In the meantime, I’ve brought in Moral Certainty Mommy, the mom with all the answers, to help clear up some of the confusion.

Q: Is it true that women care more about a clean house than men do?

Moral Certainty Mommy: Oh yes, certainly. Kerplop. Oh, forgive me, I just laughed so hard I fell off my chair.

Q: And is it also a fact that men just don’t see the mess?

MCM: Oh yes, that’s true also. Kerplop. Do excuse me. Perhaps I should clarify. Those are certain stereotypes that have been perpetuated. As with all stereotypes what is important is not any truth or falsity to them, but rather how you may use them to your advantage. For example, if you live with a man, point out things that need cleaning – with the noble goal of expanding his awareness. A good vantage point from which to point these things out is seated on the couch.

Q: So how can I teach my kids to clean up without perpetuating stereotypes?

MCM: The true goal of all good parenting is to give your children the skills that will let them be responsible, capable adults. Both boys and girls should be trained at a young age to see and take care of any mess, their own and others’. As a mother with your children’s best interests at heart, you must maintain a seated position to ensure that you can properly supervise their learning.

Q: My neighbor says she loves to clean. I’ve tried leaving a trail of bread crumbs from her door to mine to see if she’ll clean it up and then keep on cleaning into my house. So far no luck. Any ideas?

MCM: You must find out if she means it when she says she loves to clean, because otherwise – well, no one likes a hypocrite. You will be doing her a favor if you let her prove her honesty by giving her an opportunity to clean for you. I’ve had some success with a pair of fake leg casts and a pathetic look.

Q: I know kids are supposed to paint and be creative and do puzzles and play and stuff, but it’s all so‚Ķmessy. I have friends without kids and their houses all look so neat and clean. I guess I’m a little envious.

MCM: Of course you are. But remember, while you’re admiring the chicness of their white-on-white living rooms, they’re longing for the warmth and coziness that your finger-painted, chocolate-smudged disorder shows. So you must give it to them. With good friends, a visit of several months to a year by your children is not out of order. Pack up a few boxes of toys and send them off with the kids too. And don’t forget to send along any favorite pets. This is a good time for that round-the-world trip you’ve been dreaming of. True friends will be happy for you. And this will strengthen your friendship, as you’ll have so much to talk about upon your return.

Moral Certainty Mommy says she has a few chores to take care of, so she’ll leave us there. I know she’s helped clear away some of my doubts.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 3:08 PM | Permalink

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