Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The other extreme

When I get home from work, I'm usually in a good mood.

Being away where people recognize my name is not just "Mommy"; having conversations that don't start out with "Because I said so"; and driving home listening/singing along to whatever I want are just bliss.  

In a nutshell, I am restored and happy to be back home, anticipating planting a big kiss on Mr W and seeing the happy faces line up for the "She's home!" parade that occasionally happens when the garage door is heard going up.

Saturday was no exception.  I came in, and walked down the hallway, looking for Mr W.  I ignored the clues that something was up.  Nolan's concerned face, some items in the hallway, my partially-closed bedroom door, the broom in the hallway...all should have given me a heads-up, but nooooo, I was too intent on seeing my beloved.

And I saw him, alright. 

Sitting on a footstool, hunched over, dustrag in hand, Pledge in the other.  The room, vacuumed.  He was dusting our dresser.  Holy cow!  I felt a rush of warmth, because, frankly, who wouldn't feel a rush of warmth at the sight of a man cleaning, your bedroom no less; and he looked over his shoulder and said these words to me, these words that ordinarily would make some women swoon:

"I'm hiring us a maid."

I did not swoon.  I felt all my warmth extinguish, and actually heard a voice in my head say "breathe" while I sputtered out "I need to use the bathroom."

I put myself in timeout. 

Now, I will be the first to admit that things have gotten a lot busy around here.  Between ferrying children to and fro; and things I do for the school,  not to mention the mere work it takes to ensure that everyone is not only fed but that there is indeed food to eat, I've been a little (okay, more than a little) lax  in some of the housekeeping. 

Something's gotta give, and frankly, I've got better things to do after the kids go to bed than clean toilets.  I'll admit that I was thinking the other day that the level of dust in this house is doing nothing good for anyone's allergies.  But I hadn't had a chance to get to it. 

If I spend my weekdays doing all kid-duty, all the time, and my weekends working then going to my Mom's; when exactly am I supposed to be cleaning beyond the bare minimum to keep us from feeling like we live in a frathouse? 

I groused to myself in the bathroom, pissed that he said it, pissed that he couldn't even say hello first, pissed, pissed, pissed. 

I found myself reacting in a way that is a little unusual for me.  I said nothing.  I came out and went on about eating a little lunch, and left him cleaning our room.  After I calmed down a bit, I went in there and put some stuff away that he had no idea where they went, and said nothing.

And I started to reason with myself, that I should not take it personally, as in "honey, you're horrible at housekeeping and we live like pigs" but try to accept that maybe a little help couldn't hurt, and he is just doing what men do--seeing the problem, and fixing it.

Even if it rankled me, I should see it as a positive thing. 

I was still pissed, but I was feeling it ease up a bit as I pondered that he was, in essence, just trying to help, and not holding me up to some unlivable, model-home standard. 

Eventually, I was forced to talk about it, or at least listen, as he mentioned what he had in mind.  I tried not to glare at him, and that was easy as he said, "you're really busy, with the kids and the school, and work, and whatnot, and I'm busy too, and there are four kids running around making messes here and there, so let's try this..."

How could I stay mad at that?

I'm letting him deal with it.  We'll see what happens.

While some people (jen) might point out to me that I could teach my kids to do it, I have to say now is not the time.  There are too many of them, and all those little helpers would make me much, much crazier than having a maid would.  I will teach them, don't worry, to do what needs to be done.  It's just not something I have patience for right now.

My feeling of warmth eventually returned.  Especially that evening, as Ryan ran his hands over our cleaned, polished dresser top and said, "Daddy cleaned this.  He cleaned this for you.  Wasn't that nice of him?"

"Yes, it was."

Seven-year-old wisdom.  You just can't beat that.


katie39041 said...

Hi, so funny, the house work will always be there and you have far more important things to be doing. Spending time with your bairns is more important, i hope your hubby as sorted it  and your happy. Have a lovely day
love and hugs.
katie xx

jevanslink said...

One of the reasons my husband married me was when we were dating I was so neat. I made my bed as soon as I got up. I washed dishes as soon as they were dirty. I cleaned the floor with a toothbrush.  I cleaned the oven with Q-tips. Dust bunnies were hunted down and eliminated. Haaaaaaa. Children and a big house cured me.  Mrs. L

mosie1944 said...

If you and your husband both work, then you should share in the housework.  But you know, it wouldn't hurt a thing to have someone come in once a week and tidy up.  I think if you try it, you'll like it!  I don't know how parents today do it, honestly.  My daughter leaves home at 6:30 AM and gets home from work at 6 PM.  That doesn't leave much time for anything, truthfully!

mom2kk11 said...

I would have taken that the exact same way.

And I second that if you're working outside the home, you NEED help!


womandriver2 said...

I used to keep house myself.  Then I remarried.  Between us there were five kids at home.  I worked part time, hubby worked full time and I tried to keep up house while taking kids to and fro... I was stressed and frazzled.  One night hubby put his foot down.  He said "these kids are old enough to have chores and help clean the house they mess up it is not your job to do it ALL."  At the time they were 15, 13,12,9 and 7.  We talked it out and divied up chores.  It is amazing how much easier it is.  We have went through different ways over the years.  We found rotating by the week to be easier, they used to fight over "i did that last night, no I did..." etc.  I do our laundry, bathrooms and cook.  The kids each do thier own laundry (once they hit about 12 I taught them this) the rotate different chores.  There is no way I could do it alone.  It was hard at first but the rewards were worth it and guess what... my girls AND boys will be able to live on their own and cook AND clean AND do dishes!

onemoretina said...

You sound just like me.  My husband said the same thing once.  What I heard was: "You are incapable of maintaining this house."  What he was saying was: " You work so hard, you could use some help."  We gals are our own worst enemies !! tina

ekgillen said...

I dealt with the same issue last year but I came around to hubby's way of thinking. :)  We now have a housekeeper that comes once a week and I love it!!  She does the things I hate (bathrooms, floor scrubbing, dusting) and I just have to maintain a manageable level of chaos during the week.