Weekly Column 5: To Clean or Not to Clean?

Well, I’ve gotten a lot of emails asking me why I haven’t posted lately.

Why?

Because I’ve spent the last week cleaning my house.

Why?

Because my everyday tidier/laundry doer/Mother’s helper, Danay got a job in a physical therapist’s office.

Why?

Because she went to college and got a real degree before coming to this country and finding out that her only job options were maid, nanny, or grocery bagger.

Why?

Because in America if you don’t speak perfect English you must be unintelligent, even though most of us don’t speak nearly as much of a foreign language as any foreigner does of our’s.

Why?

Because we’re lazy, which is the same reason I hate to clean.

I remember the days before I found this woman… I cleaned a lot! In fact, I could not do anything else around my house until I felt it was clean. I would clean in the morning, watch my kids immediately undo my work, and then clean the same stuff all over again. Each time I was amazed at how long it took to clean and how quickly it became undone.

I had to make up fascinating “cleaning games” to justify not spending time playing Nerf dart tag, or doing spin art like the “good Mommies” did. Our play was much more educational… I honed Jake’s eye for detail and fine motor skills: “Jake, let’s see if you can match the socks and roll them neatly into pairs.” I knew Jake was a true genius the day he found matches for the 23 mateless socks. I taught Ryan about the nuances of tone and hue. “Ryan, which colors are dark and which are light? Ryan, that shirt may be white, but the stripes are red, that’s a major oversight on your part. I hope you weren’t hungry cause that just cost you dinner.”

I considered asking Mark for help, but the truth was to watch him try and clean could send us straight to divorce court. He would say, “Just do it once a day, why waste your time?” Which, by the way, is the same argument he has for oral hygiene, so who could listen to him? If you want the job done right i.e. your way… you have to do it yourself.

I couldn’t delegate because I was always too disappointed in the way someone would load my dishwasher. Loading a dishwasher takes serious problem solving skills and visual prowess; done correctly, it is an algorithm of perfectly fitting pieces with not a single one to spare. Okay, I’m beginning to sound pathetic, but some of you actually get what I’m saying. You know who you are, you’re the ones thinking “Please, my dish loading could kick your ass…Bitch! Well you know what I say? “Bring it!”

I was so vehemently against having help because I was sure it would reflect on some inability to be a good Mother/Housewife (a title I never thought I would covet the way that I do). I also convinced myself that having help would weaken my right to be a martyr. However, my need to have “a life” and to resent my husband less won out, and I hired someone.

After a single day I felt like screaming “FREEDOM” while swooshing down a mountain with a cool breeze on my face, or into a deep echoing canyon while blowing my Ricola horn, but alas Florida is flat. So I traipsed into the swamp, I mean lake, in our back yard and screamed at the top of my lungs. Unfortunately, it was “Alligator!” and not “Freedom!” but I feel my point was made. As soon as I zigzagged back into my house, I considered all of my options: Grocery shop, get Starbucks with a friend, shop for my kids, get a mani/pedi, shop for myself, go to the gym, shop for my husband, get Starbucks again, or return things from the last time I shopped. My days were filled with endless monotony and it was exciting. My afternoons were completely open. I could do all kinds of things while my daughter napped- shop, return things, get Starbucks… When my son got home we played Nerf dart tag and did spin art.

Each day I returned to a neat and straightened house, with clean clothes and an organized pantry. I began saying things like, “You know, I don’t care if you rearrange my drawers, whatever is easier for you.” I had to make phone calls to find out where my Love Quotes scarves and my new yellow Hogan bag were, and I reveled in it. I finally got bored with the exciting monotony and decided I would have to do something to distract me from shopping. I tried chewing gum. No luck. I tried the patch, but spent hours trying to find the perfect designer patch on the best sale. I read books by Dr. Oz, and Dr. Drew, and Dr. Phil. I even read a lovely memoir by Dr. J. to no avail.

So I decided to write again. Three weeks after, I felt reborn and my Amex felt dejected, jumping out of my bag anytime we so much as drove past a retail store. It would even put extra groceries in my cart when I walked over to the meat counter. My Amex wasn’t the only one let down. A week later Danay told me a friend called to offer her a job at a physical therapist’s office. I said, “Are you kidding me? Who do you expect to do my laundry, clean the kitty litter, the dog pee, the garage… me? I had that job once, it sucked!” Luckily, when I talk fast she doesn’t understand a word and I slowly said “You have to take it, congratulations!” and gave her a huge hug. She still comes like 5hrs a week because in her own words “I’ll keep helping you out, you need me.” Apparently, she’s never seen me load a dishwasher, but If you don’t tell I won’t. So the short answer to the question “Why haven’t you posted in a week: 5hrs just don’t cut it.”

P.S. If anyone knows anyone… I’m looking.

13 thoughts on “Weekly Column 5: To Clean or Not to Clean?

  1. Barry

    Loved your writing about cleaning. Sometimes over qualified really means that. Seems like you and Dene both fit that bill. Time to start a Mad Search. Your articles are fun and funny!! Barry

    Reply
  2. Stacey W.

    Cute & very true! Kind of like how you become dependent on getting manicures…when is the last time you opened a bottle of nail polish? dont think I own any that havent expired!!

    Reply
  3. Bari

    Jen,
    You are a great mom even if you need help to prove it. Whats wrong with professional consumerism?
    Bari

    Reply
  4. Candice

    I don’t clean and I am proud of it! It makes me a better mom because if I were to clean my child would probably have allergies by now from all the dust that I missed!

    Reply
  5. pam

    loved it!!!!!!!!!!!i am laughing out loud ………….i guess that answers my question about where u have been so far this summer……….i am doing the same thing—but with a 13 month old undoing every thing i do a second after i do it………

    Reply
  6. Jamie F.

    Emilee told me you’re cool and I’m not…maybe that’s because you have a blog and I don’t! Very funny (again)…I can relate to it all (I load the small spoons together, then the forks then the butter knives, etc. Get me drift?)

    Reply
  7. Kaza

    Visiting from BS Sunday. The balls post left me speechless (in a good way), so I thought I’d look at some other posts.

    I have much to teach you about ignoring housecleaning even when you have no help. Like the technique I am using now of ignoring my sink full of dishes (yes, I said FULL) while reading blogs instead. But it would probably horrify you, so never mind!

    Reply
  8. Cherie

    This was one of the funniest, because you know I can relate. Housework? what’s that. By the way I love the Burberry. It’s very appropriate. You’ll have to find someone soon or you won’t be able to keep up the funny stories. I’ll ask around.

    Reply
  9. Marla (Pearl's sister)

    I sent one of your Columns (Pedicure) to several of my friends here in New York and they thought it was hysterical. I’m sure they will continue to spread the word. Good luck and keep going!

    Reply

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