Monday, October 10, 2005

Cowgirls do NOT clean the house!

I hate housework.

I hate it. I really do.

I'd rather dig ditches or do telemarketing or castrate pigs than clean house.

But it's my job.

My sweet mom came over a few weeks ago and helped me CLEAN Sophie's room. Not just put the shit somewhere other than on the floor--but actually clean it. Decide where everything belongs. Put it there. Clean the windows. Dust the floor moldings. Now--I can actually clean that ONE room without going mad--but the rest of my house is a total cluster-fuck.

I love my house, but it's small. Not quite 1000 square feet. Add to that the fact that a puppy and 3 year old live here, and that my husband is a computer guy who (bless him) strews computer shit hither and thither, and that we're both book people, and that, well, I FUCKING HATE HOUSEWORK, and you can see where this is going.

The book shelves are about 4 sections deep--books in the back, (well to be honest, dust and cobwebs in the back), then book stacked on top of the books, then another layer of dust, and finally assorted miscellaneous crap sitting on and infront of the books. CD's, pictures, videos, computer shit, etc. The thing is, I have no clue where to put it all.

I am not by nature a tidy person, though I desperately want to be. If I lived totally alone, I MIGHT be able to keep things reasonably nice, but keeping things clean with said other messer-uppers is impossible. Add to the fact that I FUCKING HATE HOUSEWORK and we end up slogging through total chaos.

See-although I FUCKING HATE HOUSEWORK I can't stand to live in a messy house. That's my mom's fault. Every Saturday she would provide every member of the family with a list. And every Saturday the house was cleaned--really cleaned. Dusted, mopped, sprayed and polished. This led to a weird kind of schitzophrenia in the cleaning part of my brain. Obviously, I hated my Saturday list. It was total injustice. I had to clean messes that I didn't make. I wanted to be at playing outside, or later, going to the mall, but instead, I was going through my list. When reporting to mom that the list was complete, she would inevitable ask, "Is it done to MY specifications?" Well, no. So I'd go back again--vacuum in the corners, clean under the bed. When the list was finally done, I would be hot, dirty sweaty, and mad. But the house looked great.

Add to that that when my mom was pissed--she cleaned, and made us clean. We would have bi-monthly sit downs where she would loose it, tell us "I can't do this alone!" And as the middle child, my mothers child, the peace maker and taker on-er of all other's feelings, I felt responsible, that I really WASN'T doing enough.

So now I associate cleaning with guilt, with anger, and with having to do something that I do not want to do. But I also think that my house should be, at all times, as clean as my mother's house.
Sophie is napping. (Poor kid is totally constipated. She keeps telling me "I have farts in my belly! Help me get them OUT!) and I should be cleaning the fuck out of the house. I swept the floor, made my bed, and wiped down the counter, but now I am totally fucked. I don't WANT to dust. I don't WANT to clean the walls. I don't WANT to scrub out the tub. If I do these things, I'll be much happier that they're done, but I FUCKING HATE CLEANING HOUSE! If, on the other hand, I read my book or watch tv or do anything else, I won't enjoy it. I'll keep looking at the cobwebs in the corners, the piles of shit on every flat surface, the dust--Christ--the dust--and feel like the world's worst woman, wife, and mother who ever lived.

It's a kind of aggressive impotence. It makes me crazy.

Of course, if you know my sweet, handsome, smart husband, you can imagine his response when I first presented him with his "Saturday" list. To his credit, he didn't tear it up in my face and tell me to fuck off, but he didn't complete it--and he certainly didn't care if the things he did were to "my specifications." He does help--don't get me wrong. But--I don't have an army of cleaning troops like my mom did.

OK. I'll clean off one book case. I'll clean the tub. But that's all.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
Soph and I went to the library this morning. She's starting to love books. Enough said.

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
Other than not knowing what to do to help "get the farts out," I have to say that sleep is such a big issue still. Last night, 2:00 am, she decided that she MUST sleep in her princess sleeping bag blow-up thing. OK. Whatever. Just go the hell to sleep. But--when sleeping in a sleeping bag, one is obviously engaging in slumber party activity--and therefore must have a partner in sleeping on the floor. That was me. I woke up this morning, on her floor, freezing, achy, and pissed. Being the most permissive mother in the world definitely has drawbacks.


lonna said...

I am totally with you on the hating cleaning thing. Even worse, I don't mind a little dirt. This drives my husband (rightfully) totally insane. He does more cleaning than I do, and I really need to step up and do more, but I just hate it so much. I feel like we should spend our time enjoying each other, and I don't want to waste it cleaning. I would love to hire someone to do it, but I don't know who. Ethan's mother actually offered to pay someone because she used to clean houses for a living, but she wants us to hire some independent person like she was. I am okay with the day to day stuff like emptying the dishwasher, sweeping up Dermot's messes after meals, and laundry, but that's about it. We have dust and dirty toilets, and I hate that I can't get motivated to do it. Maybe today I'll get some of it accomplished in solidarity with you.

I feel bad about Sophie's tummy. Poor girl. I don't know how to get her farts out either. We've been lucky that we haven't been down that road yet.

Katy said...

OOOOH the scarring of our childhoods. Whenever mom leaves for any length of time and dad proceeds to pile his shit hither and thither I just want to slap him. My shit can be hither and thither and yon even, but his shit? oh no, he has to deal with his shit damnit.

Good luck with the farts and come over for broccolli cheddar soup later if you want!

patrice said...

I hear that there are some great yoga moves that can release gas - maybe amanda can show you? I bet sophie would love doing yoga moves.

I love things clean but I too hate to clean. I am truly truly blessed, and do not deserve, my husband, who cleans EVERYTHING. seriously, I don't know how it happened, but he does it all now. him and trent. it used to just be the dishes and the bathroom, but somehow, he also started doing the vacuuming and trent's doing the dusting.

enough of my bragging.

what if you got a cleaning lady to come, just once? maybe it would be easier to keep up with it if it were already clean. or you can do what I did when I was single and swallow my pride and ask my mom to help me. it also helps me to look at all the shit I accumulate and really make myself decide if I am ever going to use whatever it is I can't figure out where it goes.

anyways. many of us are in the same boat.

NME said...

I hate cleaning and I suck at it. I can straighten but CLEAN WALLS - DUST MOLDING - insane. IT's hard enough to vacuum regularly.

My mom too was a neat freak who used cleaning as a form of punishment. Most of the fights we had when I was growing up had to do with cleanliness.

I try to keep the house under control but I really suck at it. That said I better go do the damn dishes.

amandak said...

I've been learning something about anger and cleaning. (Well, I've been learning lots of things about anger lately, but that's another story.) If you let it, anger can be really motivating. I used to get pissy when the house was dirty, and I was pissy at Clark and the kids and mother and anyone else who was handy, but now, when I get pissy about the messy house, I try to let the anger be toward the mess, and that helps to motivate me to kick the SHIT out of that mess.

Anyways. I hate cleaning too, but for some weird reason, that seems to help. That, and I am also very lucky to have a husband who cleans toilets.

As far as yoga for farts. The ever popular 'wind relieving pose' usually helps a lot. Lay her on her back and bend one knee, pushing the thigh in toward her belly. Repeat on the other side. You can also try a little belly massage with both knees bent in toward her body, and rotate them in little circles both directions, moving in and away from her body, so her thighs press against her tummy.

Good luck!! Love you!!

thelyamhound said...

My approach to cleaning house isn't unlike my approach to personal grooming. That is to say, I'm hard pressed to shave every day--heck, I'm hard pressed to shave every third day--and am more than happy to re-wear clothes that pass the "sniff test". I try to keep the fingernails nice and short, but sometimes I just forget to notice that they're getting long. On the other hand, I'm fairly adamant about brushing teeth, reasonably vigilant about flossing, and those long fingernails still get scrubbed when I shower (which, of course, I do every day).

That's kind of my approach to the house. I try to straighten the bed without really making it, keep the dishes reasonably under control, do minor cleaning on the bathroom on a semi-regular basis and try to tidy up whenever I think about it. I'm terrible about vacuuming and dusting, and that "tidying up" often means stuffing any papers or books for which I can find no home into my ever heavier knapsack or draping clothes in the not-clean-but-not-dirty category over our closet door. Laundry is dependent on money, because we're still using machines that take quarters.

I think your incremental approach--do the tub, dust a little--is perfectly healthy, provided you address some increment or other every day.

A Man without a Band said...

I wish Jennifer could comment from her new job. I'd love to hear what she has to say along these lines. We do the "Saturday thing," vacuum, dust, laundry. Sometimes the bathrooms will wait for every other week. Tub is even less frequent. From what I understand, this is a real breakthrough for my girl, who used to be a little more obsessive about it.

I agree with Lyam. I think the "sniff test" can be applied to house cleaning, too (maybe call it the "surface test," though). Things that obviously NEED to get done, get done weekly. Things that you think SHOULD be done, can wait. Things that you would pay a housekeeper to do (windows, molding, etc...) can wait even longer.

I got your comment about Mesquite and karaoke. I'm filled with questions, but my biggest one is, which weekend are you referring to?

grody jo-dee said...

i can totally relate to your "saturday list". i have a mom who is definitely handier and tidier than marths stewart, and probably more exacting. so my standards of clean are pretty much unattainable when i'm pregnant and have a toddler.

p. helps out with the things he does well, but i find things to much more manageable for me on a daily basis. i try to one thing a day (load of laundry, clean the bathroom, vacuum the upstairs, whatever), and then it doesn't seem too overwhelming. maybe you should have your mom come over for a whole weekend and de-junk, have a garage sale, and then start a cleaning system. extra stuff is so easy to accumulate, and sometimes it's hard to see the unnecessary items when they're yours.

Stine said...

Even though I hate cleaning as well, I think our backgrounds differ. I had a Saturday list too. Thing is, when my parents got divorced, my mom was working 6000 hours, and I turned into the little "mommy". Of course, to an 8 year old, cleaning doesn't mean shit. The cleaning in our house went down hill from there. From age 7 or 8 on, I lived in a mostly messy house. I was given the responsibility of "making" my brothers and sisters do their share of the cleaning or we would all get hell and have to deal with a tired, crazy and annoyed mother. There was only so much coercing my brothers and sisters were willing to take from me.

All of this ended up giving me a very unhealthy attitude towards cleaning. I get crazy when I have to live in a messy apartment. Our apartment is not always clean, but the cleaner we have it, the happier I am. I get a perverse sense of control and accomplishment in having things smell pretty, having everything in it's order, shiny and vacuumed.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a clean freak, I just can't feel the lack of control I felt as a child.

I like Lonna's MIL's idea of hiring someone. Now we each just have to be rich enough to afford it.

KATIEmagic said...

Oh my God my mother did EXACTLY the same thing. I have this horridly vivid memory of being made to clean my little brother’s bathroom toilet. You can imagine all the pee drips down the sides. UGH! She's loosened up a LOT as she gets older and now she denies that she ever made lists for Saturday cleaning, ha! As a result my brother and I are both pretty messy people. I'm getting better about cleaning but honestly a dirty house doesn't bother me unless it's really, really, embarrassingly bad. Which leads to a lot of interesting "discussions". (read: I cry he yells things like "How can it NOT bother you that half of your clothes are on the closet floor?" Good times.)

thelyamhound said...

I'm thinking of a few more things as a result of everyone else's posts, so here goes: Like Amanda, I find cleaning to be a good way of getting out aggression. So when I have a good, full day alone in the apartment, I like to turn on the hardest, nastiest music I can find, put on the rattiest, most-likely-to-fail-the-sniff-test clothes and scrub like I'm taking revenge (I also like to think of myself as a Shaolin monk doing penance for earthly desires, but that may be too specific to my own obsessions and fetishes).

My mother also rode herd over us chilluns, putting us to work keeping the house immaculate. I used to get angry, particularly if there wasn't any company coming ("Why are we cleaning like this just for ourselves?"). What I found, though, was that when my mother slacked on driving us towards this goal, I could win tremendous praise and occasional gifts of gratitude (being taken to movies, having friends over) for doing the tasks myself, without being asked, when my parents were out for a few hours. This makes me wonder if maybe you'd benefit from assigning each task a "perk" value, giving yourself little gifts for tasks accomplished.

M.Thom said...

Also a hater of the whole cleaning thing. I am actually pretty good at keeping most areas neat, but I have to have one room or closet or whatever that I am allowed to keep messy. Here at home, it's my bedroom. Once I move in with Bill, that will no longer fly, so I am calling dibs on the master closet.

I do like when things are clean and shiny and beautiful, but it sucks to have to make them that way. Quite honestly, there are some things that I just shirk on...they are usually dusting and window cleaning. As long as the floors are clean, the kitchen's clean, the bathrooms are clean, and there isn't crap all over the place, I am happy. I have dreams of being an uber-woman with a clean house once I move to Bill's...but my history suggests things will be much like they are now, a little cluttered but (mostly) clean-ish.