Monday, September 27, 2010
My adored cousin L, who is about my age (once you're over a certain age, a year or so doesn't matter, now does it?), but who had kids way before I did, used to complain that she hated the weekends. At that time I spent every weekend going to bookstores and cafes, going out to dinner and movies with friends, maybe having a date here and there, sleeping late, lounging around in sweats - doing, you know, whateverthehellIwanted. Well, now my kids are the age hers were when she started saying this, and now I own a home, and now I know what she meant.
Friday night rolls around. We manage to coordinate dance drop-offs and pick-ups, get everyone home, and have a decent dinner (which I make). The husband and I, because we have such a spectacular social life, usually end up watching old Masterpiece Theater episodes and going to bed early. Saturday morning looms, after all, and I need my rest.
Saturday rolls around. It's cleaning day. It's laundry day. It's yard work day. It's grocery shopping day. But before cleaning and shopping; there's walking the dog, buying oranges and slicing them for soccer for the 3rd grader's game; there's a photo shoot for overpriced photos of the 3rd grader's soccer team; there's the farmers' market, which I have to get to early enough that the egg lady and the bread man haven't run out. Farmer's Market overlaps with soccer games, so the husband and I tag-team that. We reconvene at the house and start cleaning. At some point in this morass of human filth (around the toilet bowl usually), I am overcome with a rush of heated despair: while I am cleaning this- this- this object, the grass is growing, the crabgrass is dying and offering a brief interlude when we could easily pull it out and plant seed and improve the lawn before all the leaves fall down (glory of fall) and need raking; the spiders are spinning webs in the corners of all the vestibules of my house; the acorns are taking the morning to embed themselves further into the yard pursuant to their goal of turning it into a forest; the laundry needs shifting and folding; we have nothing to eat; we have to remember to get the 7th grader to her rehearsal; the lawn needs mowing, the shrubs need trimming; and there is a nature fair/river festival/craft fair/state park where I would much rather be.
Instead, I am cleaning this- this- this toilet, and I have two more, and the tiles need extra care, and really all the floors should be washed by hand; and I hate the trim on the shower door; and why are the knobs on all my kitchen cabinets gold colored? And while I'm cleaning and the yard is growing and tangling like some stop-action example of entropy, I'm unable to paint the family room a better color because I'm cleaning the ding-dong toilet and the floors and the shower (who picked these ugly bronze-like and very ornate fixtures? I would pick something very simple that wipes clean easily) and I'm just becoming hotter and hotter and hotter and it's time for a divorce now, because this is definitely not my fault that all this stuff has to be done and it has to be done on Saturday. Isn't Saturday the Sabbath somewhere?
Around noon the children, who have been pressed into various chores, are now hiding. The dog wants to play. The husband and I take off our ipods. I'm sweaty and smelly and hungry, and I want someone to give me lunch. Now. The husband may have similar feelings, but I don't want to know. Furthermore, he's not allowed to. He needs to give me lunch. NOW. Besides, there is still laundry and meal-planning, and the desire to go to the gym and the dog needs his long afternoon exercise and there is just this constant awareness that my whole life is like, well, like my backyard - plug up one chipmunk hole and and a chipmunk runs out of another one. Don't even get me started on the wildlife in the yard. Don't even get me started on the wildlife in the house. Who knew there could be so many spiders? The 3rd grader does. She tracks 'em like a zealot. We are wearing out the stair treads removing them (sometimes in a cup, with humane intent, to the outside, where they apparently immediately pitch their webs in the vestibule; sometimes crushed in a tissue, with murderous intent, right down the drain). And then there are those lovely little things I brought home from the Coop that require removing from the ceiling.
Thing is, I would much rather do yard work than clean the house. But I would much rather have a clean house than not. So while we exhaust ourselves cleaning, I am aware most unpleasantly of all the other projects not happening. The basic maintenance, and then the so-called fun stuff about owning a home: painting it to your own liking, or whatever. Some consider this sort of work fun. And don't even get me started on what I really thought I'd be doing when I owned a home (back in the 20th Century, when I even gave a thought to any of this): hiring a maid to clean the house, and consulting with a designer about the interior of it. That is so far away from me now that I'm not even exactly sure where I learned of those possibilities. Oh yeah, wait, I remember. I was raised in that kind of home. Sigh. My freelance writing career is going to have to really take off before any of that becomes possible. Divorce Saturday.
Lest you condemn me as a big fat whiner (or a short, plump one - whatever), I have to admit that my attitude might have something to do with my world view. Is that a tautology? I believe it is. I will check my dictionary later. I do understand that 'smile until you feel happy' philosophy. It just doesn't work for me. Enjoying a clean house is definitely not the same thing as enjoying cleaning it, and let me assure you, that enjoying cleaning depends a lot on whether you can afford not to.
Nevertheless, there are pleasant things about this list of chores. For example, the Farmers' Market, once I've stalked the eggs and bread, provides a pleasant outdoor interlude. I usually run into my friend Annie there, and Annie is always so much busier than I am, and so cheerful about it, that I am biting my lip even daring to complain. We take a moment to appreciate the Mushroom Guy - who has a very charming girlfriend who is missing half of her left pinkie - but only a moment, because that is all either Annie or I can spare with such a long list of to-dos. Then we're off, our baggy housework clothes flapping around us.
And at the end of the day, there is the occasional dinner that the husband and I have been invited to, or that we have invited friends to; if not, there is a clean house. Sometimes we've bucked the Saturday trend and spent the day at a festival/fair/nature preserve/state park/with friends, and we come home exhausted. We always turn in early then, because we are freakin' tired, and Sunday looms. Divorce Sunday. Hahahahahahahahahahaha.