Monday, November 8, 2010

Domestic Diva or Defeated Dingbat?

If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, I should have arrived there weeks ago.  I've been planning, strategizing and preparing to get some major household projects completed for quite a while.  I have come up with excuses for today's lack of progress that go back weeks in history, but the truth is, I've made almost no headway on any projects in or around my house.

Years ago I was in a club for stay-at-home mothers.  It was the support system I needed, raising small children with no family nearby.  One of the women from that club became a very dear friend, and we talked on the phone daily, while we cleaned the kitchen after breakfast, and worked on the first load of laundry of the day.  We always got to hear PBSKids programming in stereo, since both sets of children watched the same morning shows.  We tried to be both motivator and sympathizer for each other, which wasn't always possible.

I'll never forget the day she coined a phrase that made my blood run cold.  "Michele," she said, "I am defeated by my house."  And I knew in an instant what that meant.  For this lady was a very meticulous housekeeper, a germphobe, a person who enjoyed cleaning out closets and organizing junk drawers.  I called her a toothbrush cleaner - no job too small.  The main areas of her house always looked very nice to me - clean and tidy.  But somehow, the parts I never saw got the best of her, and one day it all became too much one day and she decided to let the house win.

The concept disturbed me so because, up until that time, I'd always assumed that at some point I'd get into the "maintenance mode," and from that time on I'd just stay on top of things.  From my perspective, my friend appeared to be in maintenance mode, just whipping out her toothbrush to freshen up the grout because she was bored and her kids monopolized the TV.  I didn't realize that her to-do list was as long as mine, and she never got to any of her "real" projects because laundry, dishes, cooking, vacuuming, shopping, bill-paying, mending, chauffeuring and being an irresistible sexpot after 9pm does consume every waking hour of every day for many years (although the sexpot part is the first job to get sacrificed).

That day, I realized that the maintenance mode doesn't exist.  It is a mythical place, like Atlantis; no one ever gets there, and those who say they've been there are assumed to be insane.  And if it was possible for my friend to be defeated by her house, maybe one day it would happen to me.  Maybe one day I'd look around and say, "Okay, house, you win.  I give up, because I can't beat you."  But with the innocence and optimism that has never characterized any of my thoughts or actions, I mused:  "That will never happen to me.  I'll never let a stupid messy house beat me.  I'll always try to keep things presentable."

Well, today the house won a decisive match.  The longer I looked at stuff, the more it mocked me.  I tried the clipboard approach, walking from room to room, making notes and prioritizing jobs, which generally revs my motivation.  All that came from that effort was 1) I felt crunching in my carpet, which is never good; and 2) I think I own the world-champion dog hair tumbleweed...I can't wait to put that monster on the postal scale. 

So the boxes and newspaper still crowd the living room.  Hundreds of pieces of glassware, china, lamps, bric-a-brac and crap that need to be re-wrapped and re-boxed still cover 95% of the floor space (read: walking area) of the room.  I guess it won't mind waiting one more day for me to get the job done.  I guess I'll eventually run out of excuses - or will I?  I guess the fact that I'm hosting bunco on Thursday means that I have to quit blogging about being defeated and start actually fighting in this war!

No more blogs until the glassware is safely in the attic!  Goodbye, world!



  1. I thought you were talking about me and our phone calls TILL you said "very meticulous housekeeper" then I knew you were 2timing me with someone else on the phone:(

  2. It was Sue A., but don't worry - I've got something to say about you. I'll give you a heads-up...