Kerry: When the magic went away
I was arguing with my beloved the other day about time (my good, old, elusive friend time) and how when my beloved “gives” me time, I use it to clean, because I don’t want to live in a pigsty. But he’s right, it is my choice. And I threw out some comment about the bathrooms not magically cleaning themselves. Oh how I wish they did, but they don’t. Anyway, I got to thinking, playing around with that idea really, and wondered if my family would have any sympathy for me if the magic went away. Really, as usual I’m feeling under appreciated and overworked. But hey, for the first time ever, I got both babies to take naps in their beds at the same time…right now. Wonder if that has anything to do with my beloved not being here to help. (He’s working overtime this week for Christmas money.) So, here is a creative burp, a little piece of my cynical sarcasm come to life before my eyes.
When the magic went away
I had grown so accustomed to the little fellas taking care of things, imagine my shock and dismay when I found the letter of resignation folded neatly and taped to the bathroom mirror. “Dear mistress of the manor,” it began.
We are sorry for any inconvenience, but we feel stifled in our current position of scrubbing toilets and bathtubs. Lately we are feeling under appreciated for our efforts and feel the distant calling of the warm sun and the gentle surf. We have mutually decided to permanently vacation on the beaches of Mexico.
Good luck with the house.
Ipsy, Twint, Spirap and Jaffer (Those are not our real names of course, but will do for these purposes.)
Hmmm…what business did four little house elves have sipping margaritas on the coast of Mexico? Didn’t I take care of them? I left out little goodies and saucers of milk which they claimed was their favorite. I hand stitched them little clothes in the latest elfin fashions. Now what would I do? I felt overwhelmed and dismayed.
Where could I find more magical elves? Was there some sort of directory? And, God forbid, what if the tiny ladies who folded all of the laundry and put it neatly away decided to follow their muses and head off to New York to become famous artists? This was out of control.
I sunk down to my knees and began to sob. Would the terrible turmoils of being a house wife and stay at home mom never end? I suppose there was still a bright side…somewhere. I still had the invisible nannies to rock the babies back to sleep in the middle of the night. Unless of course they deserted me too…to become groupies to some hot, young band who played only for the ears of invisible maidens.
When I signed on for this, nobody told me this could happen. I read the fine print in the contract for housewives and there was definitely nothing in there about desertion. Did the little buggers have a right to leave? I’d always assumed they’d be there to take care of things. What were my rights in all of this? Could I sue? Was there some kind of fairy tale lawyer I could call? Sure, in that same directory with the elves for hire. Right.
And my family wonders why I get so cranky.
this is very funny, and timely, as i was just email griping about laundry….again!
‘cleaning is a gven. all my laundry baskets are full from 3 days ago, clean, while there are dirty piles in every room that need transportation to the washer today. i’m getting really fed up with 90% of the job by me, and the other 10% ignored by all in house who are capable of opening a d* drawer. [my mil], of course, is out of this particular frustration as she does her own plus strays she finds around downstairs, mostly baby outfit changes from food globs and the rare diaper explosion.’
this was my response to my friend saying she feels like all she ever does is clean.
I love your tale, Kerry — I just wish the truth of it wasn’t so unpleasant!
While I recognize that your post is partly tongue-in-cheek, I do think that you bring up an important issue that merits a look-see for all of us.
If you’re the kind of person who wants/needs relative cleanliness in order to relax (ha ha) and be creative, it’s really hard to let things go. I’m in that camp too. But at the same time, I do think it’s important to remember that the toilets will ALWAYS need cleaning and there will ALWAYS be another load of laundry in need of washing.
For anyone who struggles with this issue: Is it possible to settle on a baseline — everyone has something to eat, something clean to wear — and loosen your standards on some of the other household tasks, at least while the little ones are still little? It’s not forever; you can have a showroom home again in future — but maybe that’s not where you really want to spend your limited resources right now. What feels better: having a clean house, or having something to show for your creative efforts? You shouldn’t have to pick — it would be great to have both — but at times, you can’t have it all.
But you shouldn’t have to DO it all yourself, either. Don’t forget to corral the troops. How about everyone spends just 30 minutes cleaning up and tidying? Husbands, older children? Even a 3-year-old can put toys away and drag dirty laundry to the washing machine. Perhaps their efforts won’t be that much of a real help, but giving them tasks will keep them busy while everyone is cleaning, makes them feel like a contributing member of the group, and is important early practice. How about everyone gets the house straightened and THEN Mom gets her “free” time? That way she won’t be forced to chose between a clean kitchen and an hour spent painting.
Don’t forget about the power of routine, either. If everyone spends 20 minutes tidying up every evening after dinner, the house will rarely get out of control. If you have to tie clean-up participation to allowance or electronic privileges, then do it. There’s no reason that you should be slaving away and deferring your dreams while everyone else is doing what they want to do. When your kids balk, remember this: you’re doing them a huge favor by enforcing responsibility. It’s well documented that kids who have chores at home have higher self-esteem. Here’s just one link on the topic: http://cehd.umn.edu/pubs/ResearchWorks/Rossmann.html.
Kerry, your husband’s point about you “choosing” to clean over painting does burn a little, but there is also truth to is observation, which I can relate to, even though I don’t like to admit it. If nobody else in your house cares about clean floors, then maybe you shouldn’t care so much either. (Note to self!)
In terms of the question of “someday,” when the Big Mac Truck with your name on it comes around the corner, do you want your last thought to be “thank God I cleaned the house,” or “thank God I expressed my creative self while I had the chance”?
tee hee hee! yep, me too. i really want to print out your elves’ resignation note and tape it to the bathroom mirror for my dh, kerry. and i want to run off with the nannies to be a groupie to that hot young band. maybe they’ll let me sing with them! whoo hoo!
as far as the creating versus cleaning, i suffer terribly from that. i can sometimes ignore 2nd and 3rd floor disasters, because my workshop is downstairs, but i can’t ignore the downstairs mess. i have to clean up before i can get any creative work done. drives me crazy. mess is a big stressor for me. hate to admit it.
lol! i have to state for the record that i have never had a showroom home! honestly, that would drive me insane. i have to feel like we live in our home, with evidence: ie: clutter.
what gets me is having to do 10 things to get to the one thing i intended to do. like unstack a week’s worth of pots out of drain board to find the little one underneath that i wanted to heat the soup for lunch, but have to reorganize the cabinet, cause when i opened it to put those pots away, i was avalanched upon by big pots that were stacked on little pots, balanced inside lids in there…..
and sticky surfaces, esp toilet related – esp after this 2 weeks of infirmary status. 😉 speaking of which, better go sterilize a certain streppy toothbrush…
I have given up on a clean house for now. As long as it doesn’t get out of control or prevent me from functioning…
But what has roused my ire slightly is the “It’s your choice” thing. Sure, it’s your choice if you want to maintain an impossible level of pristine – but it is not your ‘choice’ to simply clean the house, it is your duty (and should be everyone’s).
You cannot live in a sty and you can’t subject your children to that. Making sure there isn’t fecal matter on the toilet, old rancid chicken drippings on the countertop and lice nesting in their sweaters isn’t a choice – it is a responsibility you have as a parent and adult.
Your beloved is lucky because he has a choice. Maybe you should pack it up with the elves and go off on a vacation for a week. Hell, I bet your beloved will be broken midway through the first day!
It is quite an eye-opener to see how disgusting things can get in one day with toddlers in the house if you don’t do anything… It ceases to be a choice at that point, I think.
Oh well, that’s why I love Trader Joe’s – $3 Shiraz.
ah, liz, if only i weren’t nursing – i’d join you in a glass of that shiraz! and i thinki i’ve ranted enough about the inequity of men’s choices vs women’s have to’s plenty in this site, in general. see, kerry, they have a choice to clean or not to clean, when we have to clean…b/c frankly, if we don’t, they won’t either and the levels they can reach are so much more a health hazard…
cathy – my motto is a guinness a day for breastfeeding! 🙂 ha ha
I sound like an alcoholic, but I swear I don’t drink much at all.