Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Hereby Absolve You From Housecleaning

Much to the chagrin of my mother, I am a very reluctant housekeeper. I did not used to be so. When I was a child, I loved to clean and organize. Every summer since the summer after fourth grade, I would spend a week re-organizing my room. School work from the past year would go into separate files. I would rearrange books. Throw away broken toys. I did this on my OWN, mind you. Because I found it FUN. My mother never asked me to do this. Sometimes I would go to other kids' houses and re-organize their toy boxes. Their moms would ask my mom if they could hire me out.

Since then ... things have deteriorated. I am still fairly organized. But my apartment is often a mess. Clothes lie in heaps on the floor. The dishes can pile up. Junk mail gets tossed onto the futon. My bed is never ever made. And you know what? It's okay. I don't mind living with junk mail on the futon. Or with an unmade bed.

But whenever I'm having people come over to my apartment, something strange happens. Suddenly, the vacuum comes out. The pillows have to be straightened and fluffed. Paper has to be picked up. The bed has to be made. The kitchen has to be scrubbed until it's spotless.


Why do we, as women, and I say women because I know of almost no men who do this, feel the need to clean before company comes over? Why do we feel we need to PROVE to people that we are good housekeepers?

Well you know what? I'm a crap housekeeper. Why? Because cleaning house is stupid! It takes time from other things I'd rather be doing like going out with friends or reading a book or even watching TV or SLEEPING. Yes. I would rather do all of those things than pick up my clothes or make my bed. Yes I would. Why isn't that okay? Why do we women feel like our sense of self-worth is somehow measured by how clean we keep our home? Most of the women I know are brilliant. They are funny. Some have twelve degrees. Some make lots of money. And yet ... we honestly think that our friends judge us by how clean our bathrooms are?

Isn't there something wrong here?

Men, largely speaking, don't seem to have this philosophy. The few men I know who are clean are ALWAYS clean. Period. They don't just clean when company is coming. They are just freaks of nature who apparently are immune to the second law of thermodynamics.

And that's why women largely get stuck with the housework. Because we CARE, because we feel JUDGED, and men don't. They don't care that the laundry didn't get done or the dishes or that the bathroom floor hasn't been cleaned in a month. So they don't do it. And women, well we might not REALLY care, but we feel that we SHOULD care. We feel guilty, and we decide that even though we cannot tell the difference between a bathroom floor that hasn't been cleaned in a month and a bathroom floor that hasn't been cleaned in a week, that dammit, we need to clean that bathroom floor!

And then we screw ourselves even more because we decide that NO ONE ELSE can CLEAN AS WELL AS WE DO. Like it's freaking BRAIN SURGERY. Like we're trying to win a MEDAL at the CLEANING OLYMPICS. So when say, a man, agrees to do the dishes, we then end up RE-DOING them because he JUST DIDN'T DO IT RIGHT. And then, he becomes rightly pissed off, so he decides that if when HE does them WE are just going to clean up after him, HE might as well just watch TV. And he would be correct.

But you know what? We should watch TV too. Because seriously? Once I did not do my dishes for like ... a week and a half. And I got fruit flies. And it was kind of gross, but I did not die. And actually nothing bad happened. So, the moral of the story is, if you don't clean your house that often, it's okay, you WON'T die.

Unless you get hit by a bus.



ScienceMama said...

I do feel like people judge me by my housecleaning. And not only that, but I also feel like people can see all the spots that I've missed. Last night someone came by to pick something up, and even though I just SCOURED my house last Saturday, I was praying he wouldn't ask to use my bathroom because the bathroom is the place all the pet hair goes to die and how could I possibly have a house covered in pet hair? I'm disgusting!

And also, people are coming over next Thursday night, so I have to clean the house on Wednesday because I need it to be in its cleanest possible state when they arrive..

And also, I am really enjoying your blog, thank you.

Sam said...

I have this weird issue where I can't stand dirt, but I have no problems with stuff lying out of place. I've never been overly organized nor had a problem with not being organized, but I go crazy if I see grease stains, dust, dirt, etc. On my kitchen counter (and I have a large counter) I have clean dishes laying around everywhere, instead of being neatly stacked up on the shelves.

I have found a solution that works well. If something is lying out of place for a long time and I don't touch it for months on end, it goes in the trash or gets freecycled. This solves many problems and gets rid of excess stuff.