Search This Blog

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Confessions of a not-so-great housewife

I knew I loved the man who would become my husband when he stayed at my apartment and cleaned my kitchen while I was at work.  He said he had to, because there was a green slimy thing making off with one of the forks.  In fact, he took it personally when I didn't invite him over.  He thought it was because I didn't like him.  I had to confess, it was because my apartment was so messy.

So, he knew exactly what he was getting into, when we moved in together, then married.  I made the effort, not wanting to be a total embarrassment, but I never was taught how to clean.  Mom always had something better to do.  The only time I remember helping her clean as a kid was when we used the putty stuff in a can to clean the wallpaper for the family reunion, in the '60s.  I do remember her frantically cleaning when it was her turn to host pinochle club.  My room was terribly messy as a kid, though a lot of that was just too much stuff. 

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, raised seven kids and cleaned every day.  I had a friend who dusted all the woodwork in her massive house every Tuesday.  These were alien concepts to me.  I usually waited until the dust bunnies were the size of tumbleweeds before I got out the cleaning pad.  My husband and I agreed that if we did have kids, I'd have to get the job that paid well enough for him to stay home.  The house would be a lot cleaner, but the kids would be more psychotic. 

I used to love to do laundry and cook. I started doing the wash after he shrunk a designer sweater down to doll size.  Chris took over doing dishes, until he remodeled the kitchen.  He then declared his work there ended and it would be my job to cook and clean.  He took over the laundry, because it was something he could do on his breaks from on-line poker games.  I miss laundry, but have to admit he's improved.  There's something soothing in folding and sorting socks.  I've gotten that from doing dishes, that once hated task.  I can think about my fiction and often come up with ideas and solutions, while doing a job that doesn't require but a portion of my brain. 

As I get to be a "parent" to my characters, I'm not going to impose all of my shortcomings upon them.  Lizzy/Elizabeth loves to do laundry and Mary Margaret always did the dishes.  I've worked scenes into my fiction that illuminate the characters and their reactions to everyday things, while extraordinary events swirl around them.  Rob learns to garden, aversion therapy for his OCD.  Will learns to cook some special dinners to surprise his wife. 

And I'd better get into the kitchen and do some more dishes. 


  1. Since I have students and parents in every day, I have to keep my house reasonably presentable, but I mostly use the "lick and a promise" method of cleaning. One of these days, I hope to be able to afford to pay someone to come in and do the job properly!

  2. Yes, ma'am. I remember my mom saying, "It's amazing how much I can get done in an hour." Here's hoping we'll both have futures with housekeeping services!