Friday, July 1, 2011

On that Evil of Evils...Housework

Dear Friends,

Anyone who really knows me knows how much I hate housework.  I'd rather be doing almost anything else. Grocery shopping at Wal-Mart.  Grooming a hedgehog.  Grooming a hedge. 

To paraphrase the late Laurie Colwin, housework is a kind of Mobius strip.  You no sooner finish it, than it needs to be done all over again.  Surely I was put on this earth to serve a higher purpose.

Of course, if someone doesn't clean every once in a while, a pit of filth will be the inevitable result.  Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who keeps our home reasonably clean and sanitary.  Though I know he is probably thinking, "Would it kill you to run the vacuum every now and then?"

To be fair, I don't think he should have to do the housecleaning, either.  I really don't.

And we can't afford a maid. 

Somewhere, I believe, there is a Housework Fairy who is going to come to my home and magically clean everything--hopefully without my actually noticing her presence, therefore removing the need to thank her for her services.  Sort of like those elves who made all the shoes for the shoemaker overnight.

Please, don't get me wrong.  I admire anyone who keeps a lovely house.  It is becoming a lost art.  I have a friend whose home is always welcoming, shiny and uncluttered.  Even though I sometimes teasingly call her "Martha,"  I wish I could be like her.  I've tried.  Only to find myself sitting on the floor, reading instead of dusting. 

And as we all know, wishing doesn't make it so. 

I do have some questions, however.  Such as:  Why does she not despise cleaning?  How does she keep up with it all?  And better yet, why are we so different?  Is it a genetic thing?  A Zen thing?  Or am I just lazy? 

 (I think I'm just lazy).

And so, my friends, I will leave you with the above image, and leave you to your own housecleaning. 

I'll be surfing the 'net, or one of the other three million time-wasters I'd rather do than clean the house.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July,


  1. I'm with you on housework. After decades of doing it , it hold no interest or mystery.

    Which book of Laurie Colwin's is that quotation from?

  2. Hi, Serena, Thank you for dropping by!

    It is from "Goodbye Without Leaving." The character actually says that laundry is a kind of Mobius strip, no beginning and no end.

    I think "Goodbye" is my favorite Colwin book. Do you have a favorite?

  3. I have friends who love to clean, and I think it's cathartic for them. When they're feeling stressed or like things in their life are out of control, they clean. And they instill order on part of their world. It can also be a fair workout, and at the end of it, the accomplishment is visible.

    I can understand that, to a degree, I just (like you) don't feel it myself. I finally hired a cleaning service about a year ago. My mom was like "I couldn't figure out why you didn't do that years ago!", and it's helpful in unexpected ways. (Or, expectedly unexpected, if that makes sense.) They come on Mondays, and so every Sunday night / Monday morning before work, I run around and pick stuff up, do a fair amount of cleaning in preparation for them coming to clean. :)

    If I didn't have a "deadline" like that, I would let it slide. I know myself!

    But another way to make it easier is to radically declutter. I have them ignore my bedroom (they can do the rest in a flat hour, the bedroom would add onto it, plus the cats need a place to hide), so the rest of the place has ended up being fairly decluttered. One of my goals this summer is to radically declutter my bedroom. I'll probably take a day or two off work to accomplish this. I just don't have the will to do it on the weekends.

    Once decluttering has happened, it's easier to keep it up, easier to clean, easier all around.

    So, if you have to do your own cleaning, definitely think about that. You can take it in stages. There are some good books on this, actually. This is the one that I found helpful:

  4. Hi, Deb: I have indeed seen that book and it's on my short list!

    I definitely have clutter issues. I really need to work on them, too.

    You're not the only one who "cleans for the maid." If I had a nickel for everyone I've ever heard say that...!

    Have a great weekend!

  5. I have a husband like yours. I cooked and cleaned the first 20 years of our marriage. Now he does it and I don't mind at all.

    I used to be Martha, now I just clutter my house with her craft stuff.

  6. Housework is over rated! It does help to have a hubby that cooks, cleans and does laundry - and the grocery shopping. I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July weekend! Stay cool! :)

  7. Barbara, I did used to do some housework, but somehow slowly got away from it. I never was a good cook--a competent one, and I love reading cookbooks, and I love to bake. But my husband really has a talent for, and enjoys, cooking. I tell him, "Why should I deprive you of that pleasure?"

    Nancy, I hope you have a great 4th too. It has gotten rather humid here--not my thing, but there you have it. Take care!

    Thank you both for visiting! I am happy you did .

  8. I used to be like that. A good housekeeper, I mean. My mother was a Martha Stewart clone (even looks like her) and was a stay-at-home mom, so our house always looked like a magazine.

    I maintained that for probably ten years before I just burnt out. I work full time and have all these other commitments, and I just can't keep a house in that condition. (And that's with a husband doing the cooking and the floors!)

    I felt bad about it for a while, but moved on past that about a year ago and just do what I can without making myself crazy. We occasionally get a cleaning service as we can afford it -- and I appreciate how lucky we are to be able to do it!