At least for me. In my world, housework is like traveling to a destination I never reach.
With the nice, fall weather we’ve been having, I threw my energy into some large outdoor chores. A huge sense of accomplishment was achieved. (Yes, I realize that is passive voice. I did it for effect.)
But when I ventured back indoors, I was shocked to discover that the house did not stay neat and tidy without me. The laundry room alone looked like it could qualify for superfund status. So I took a day “off” to get my house back in shape.
Which was a mistake. I can’t clean up my house in a day. Or even a week. Although in my work life I can focus on a puzzling problem, or stay on task for hours to meet a deadline, I cannot do this in my house. I am constantly distracted and wholly ineffective.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
- I start to tidy up the bedrooms and realize that it’s time to change the bedding.
- I strip the beds, and reason that since cold weather is on the way, I should take the opportunity to put on the heated mattress covers.
- While I’m swapping the mattress covers, I decide to vacuum the mattresses, which requires me to haul a vacuum up a flight of stairs.
- And, of course, I have to wash the mattress covers I removed which requires hauling them all down a flight of stairs.
- I figure as long as I am washing the mattress covers, I should wash the comforters.
And so on. I end up with room after room of bedding in varying degrees of cleanliness on every surface. And then it’s 3:00 and my children start to arrive from school. If my house isn’t picked up by the time those others get home, I can forget it.
Here’s another example:
- Halfway through cleaning the kitchen, I realize I don’t have anything planned for dinner.
- I glance in the refrigerator and notice there are several items that are, ahem, a little past the due date.
- I clear the refrigerator of less-desirable items which makes it evident I need to wipe the shelves.
- I wipe the shelves, restow everything, and realize there is nothing in the refrigerator suitable for dinner.
- I check the freezer and notice there are several items that I can no longer identify.
- I clear the freezer, which makes it evident there is nothing in there for dinner either.
- I go to the store.
And really, I never get my kitchen tidied up. Ever. There is too much stuff that goes on in there, like homework and eating, also sometimes cooking.
Clearly, this is not where my skill lies. My ability to see beyond the problem at hand, to follow a thread and see where it takes me, helps me in my professional life. But it’s not worth a moldy kidney bean the rest of the time.
Who knew work could be such a refuge.
In my heart, laundry, I feel like we could have had a better relationship, you and I. Perhaps if you’d waited for me in the orderly fashion I desired – whites with whites, delicates with delicates – we could have found a way to coexist. Or if you’d made even the slightest effort to stay folded in the drawers instead of ending up in a wrinkled, tangled mess. But you’ve made no attempt whatsoever to make my life easier. If there is to be any future for us, laundry, you must not, anymore:
- Hide under beds, at the bottom of closets, in gym bags, and under car seats. Even though I know you are there it is agony to seek you out, over and over again.
- Show up in the laundry basket when I know you are clean, in fact, just washed. Oh why, laundry, do you punish me in this way?
- Exceed many times over what is practical for the number of people in this household. I see them each day, wearing the same clothes they not only slept in, but wore the day before – how is it possible that you multiply so? Is it just to taunt me?
- Appear before me in such a disgraceful state – soiled, wrinkled, smelly, stained with God knows what. It tears me apart, laundry, it really does.
I know, laundry, that I could improve, too. I know I start out with the best intentions, laundering you in a practical, reasonable way – carefully sorting and calibrating the right water temperature. But I admit that after a day with you, I often find myself throwing you into the washer at random without any regard to your care label, not caring if you shrink or pill. And I’m sorry, truly, but at some point I hit the limit of what I can endure.
So how shall we go forward, laundry? Is it to stay this way between us always? Or can we change, coexist peacefully, get along even for just a day? Tell me – what is it to be? I just heard the buzzer on the dryer so the time for truth is now.
I don’t care whether you work in or out of the home, if you’re managing a busy family the weekend is anything but relaxing. One of the most depressing moments of the week is that point on Saturday when I realize that I need to fill the seemingly endless stretch of hours before me with laundry and other yucky chores. I don’t know why, but it always seems like a surprise. After all these years of kids and working on my own, I still have that TGIF mentality that says on Friday the work week is over and I’m free to relax.
But that is no longer my reality, nor is it for most of the people I know. The days run one into another at breathless pace. Here’s what reality looks like to me these days:
- My house is full of children who don’t belong to me. They come and go at a dizzying rate. And they eat my food.
- I can do an entire load of red laundry and another that’s entirely yellow and green.
- I run out of milk every half day or so, and when I go to buy more…
- The checkout guy at Trader Joe’s says to me, “Do you realize you buy two of everything? Is that intentional?”
- My neighbors comment on how often I drive up and down the street.
- My schedule is more crammed than ever, but in addition to work meetings it’s full of items like “cats in for shots” and “orthodontist consult”.
- (And by the way, I had to make a budgetary choice between a year of braces for my kid and having a cat’s tooth pulled – roughly the same cost. Guess what I chose.)
- I have necessary household items, like wine, delivered to my home.
- There’s always someone bleeding around here.
- Sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth my time to take a shower. Or put on clean clothes. I just go to the grocery store, the library, the post office, etc. as is and hope no one I know is there.
- I never, ever notice what I pay to put gas in my car. What’s the point? It’s not like I’m not going to fill up.
- I’ve stopped keeping a to-do list because items on it age out.
- I send my husband off with the CostCo list even though I know the trip will cost twice as much if he goes.
Of course, like everyone. I find many ways to procrastinate on a day like this. Blogging for instance.
What does reality look like to you today? Commiserate with me.