Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Housework, tidy home tidy mind, barf.

I had an interesting chat with a friend of mine last week over some poor lunch and the conversation has stayed with me somewhere in the fog of my insomnia raddled brain. However a second conversation with a totally different person this morning has pushed it straight back to my frontal lobe and irked me the way mohair can.
Housework. Necessary evil or badge of honor?
Okay, for me, I'll freely admit, it's a necessary evil. I do it because I don't want to live in a total pig sty. I do just enough to prevent this from happening. I hoover once a week, I wash the kitchen and bathroom floor once a week, sometimes surfaces will be polished and now and then a window might get the same treatment. Twice a year the books get dusted. I recycle daily.
Both the ladies I spoke with seemed to view this as not a whole lot. Then they both looked proud of the amount of shit they do in their house. Like it was a oneupmanship thing.
'Ohh my floors are always filthy no matter how many times I wash them.' On gal said, rather happily it seemed for someone with such a problem.
'How many times do you wash them?'
'Oh every day, I have too. They get so filthy.'
I snarfed, ordered another glass of wine and changed the conversation. But it stuck with me, how smug they were about their housework, how eeeeeeever so slightly patronizing they were when I didn't subscribe to their views that a twinkling sparkling home is a happy one.
I hate hoovering, I hate the sound of the hoover and after a while it grates on my nerves so badly that I feel like flinging the Hoover out the window.( I did this once, in a rage I tossed an old hoover half way down the street) However, have cats, will hoover. But once a week is plenty.
And clothes. I don't iron. Period.
I mentioned this to the girl I had lunch with last week and if I had said, 'Say darling, I"m considering slaughtering nine male newborns on June bank holiday weekend to appease the Godess of Shoes, wanna come?' her reaction could not have been more OTT.
'You don't iron?' My gal pal said, spluttering her Britvic 55.
She cast a quick glance over me. Was I any more crumpled than she? Also Nope.
'But how do you get your clothes so unwrinkled?'
'I fold or hang them properly when I take them off the line.'
'Have you ever ironed?'
'I may have ironed the sleeves of a shit a few years ago.' I said, pushing a piece of limp salad about, 'but to perfectly honest I"m not even sure I know where the iron is in our house. I think it's under the sink.'
She shook her head. 'I can't believe you don't iron.'
'I iron everything, duvets, underwear, everything.'
She shrugged, 'I don't know I just do.'
'Okay, I don't.'
She laughed then and shook her head,'You were never one for the housework.'
'I do housework, I just don't iron.'
'What about the paramour?"
'What about him?'
'Does he never need anything ironed?'
'Sure, he does it himself.'
This too caused a head shake. Apparently the idea that a grown man might iron his own fucking shirts is still something of a novel idea in 2007.
All this head shaking and unspoken disapproval bring me neatly to this morning and another of my mother's impromptu visits. Before second coffee I might add.

Another thing I don't do is clean the house before I start work. Because I work from home folk seem to think I"m just sitting around here watching day time tv eating Malteasers or some shit. Well I'm not. I'm at work. I may not have physically left the house but I'm at work nonetheless. That means I'm not doing house work or taking personal calls or making coffee for my mother who just happens to be in the neighbourhood and is looking for a few minutes entertainment.
My attitude is thus, I don't give a shit if the house is falling down about my ears, I'm not doing anything about it until I"m finished whatever I happen to be working on right at that moment. This too is something of a shock to other folk.
'How can you work knowing there are dishes in the sink.' My mother might say, peering disapprovingly at the breakfast things.
'Uhundddo' I will reply, waiting for her to leave.
'Doesn't it bother you?'
'No, I can't hear them from the other room.'
'I wouldn't be able to leave them like that.'
'You can wash them up if you like.'
This is something of a challenge. Naturally she won't wash them, but my refusal to get bothered by two cups, a bowl and a side plate sitting minding their own business in a sink will trouble her all day and she will tell one of my sisters about it later on. She will have no choice, if she doesn't she will die of poisoning or a brain freeze or something.
It took me a long time to self motivate myself to work from home and not spend all day reading or staring out the window. It appears it might take longer to get 'ME AT DESK, ME WORKING NOW' into the heads of others.
Housework and people who think it is the be all and fucking end all. People who iron socks for Christ's sakes! I"m against it!

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Blogger hellojed said...

These people are your friends? Where the hell do you live, 1954? I couldn't name one person I know who irons, cleans and does everything for their husband/boyfriend/partner, apart from my mother. People of our generation who take pleasure in being indentured servants are freaks.

11:47 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I'm telling you there is a very definite divide when it comes to housework and a goodly number of ladies my age do ironing. Just not me. The amount of people I know who-when they have a day off- spend that whole day cleaning is staggering.

11:54 a.m.  
Blogger Birchsprite said...

Too be honest I hoover infrequently... mostly when the dustbunnies start breeding and my house resembles a Watership Down for dirt!

I also never iron... why on earth would I spend valuable hours of my time making sure that all the material in my life is flat? It's insane.

12:59 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I agree whole heartedly.
I mean why the hell would ANYONE iron a duvet cover? Don't they get wrinkled and crinkled in your sleep? Are we to iron them daily? Who's going to see them any road 'cept you?
It's lunacy.

1:05 p.m.  
Anonymous eva said...

I don't get people like that. The cleaning/ironing lunatics, I mean.
My oldest sister is like that, but everybody takes the piss out of her for it.
I think life is too short to spend it cleaning too much. And I like you I never iron!

1:20 p.m.  
Blogger Deborah said...

I would like to iron the person who invented irons. Bastard! I was so bad at ironing the husbands shirts that he took over himself, told me to stay away from them! ;-) I'm a housewife and I hate housework... totally the worst thing ever. I only hoover/mop once a week as well and I have two toddlers dragging god knows what all over the place... don't let it get to you! If you're comfy and happy, that's all that matters! ;-)

Jed - not a nice inference that those of us who CHOOSE to stay home with our kids/husbands are "indentured servants." Most stay at home Moms today have third level or beyond education and made a conscious choice to leave the workforce to raise their children. Not an easy decision and certainly not one to take lightly. Works for some, doesn't for others. Please don't feel sorry for us or look down on us.

1:27 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

In Eavan Boland's wonderful book "Object Lessons" she wrote about giving a poetry workshop for women in Ireland and how one student said she wouldn't ever tell her neighbors that she was a poet because then they would think that she doesn't wash her windows.
I do iron (clothes only) but I don't do windows and generally despise housework. Cleaning your floors everyday spells out Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as well as just a boring person. I'd rather tuck into a book or do anything else than clean the damn house. Minimal effort is best for my well-being.

2:03 p.m.  
Blogger Caro said...

I just clean enough to keep the cockroaches at bay. I have a few pairs of linen trousers that I iron cos otherwise they don't hang right but that's the sum total. Housework is for people with no imaginations and nothing better to do.

2:36 p.m.  
Blogger Katherine said...

I don't iron either. Not a thing. My mother loves it though.

2:38 p.m.  
Blogger finn said...

i have an iron, and i know exactly where it is: it's in the basement, sitting atop my extra gym towels so the fucking cats won't sleep, shed and puke there.

i can see how mindless household tasks like ironing might be soothing, though, like knitting. maybe that's why your friend irons.

2:52 p.m.  
Blogger tapsi said...

I think someone once told me that ironing had a lot more to do with disinfection (extreme heat) then creaseless surfaces back when they didn't have these modern detergents, and if so, it must have been a good idea to iron underwear and socks...

I used to work at home for years and people were always telling me 'ah, that's like an extra long holiday'... but sometimes it was more like living in an office, with work haunting me all the time. I don't see why people just can't get the idea that working at home is work. Work. Not lying in bed and eating chocolate all day.

3:24 p.m.  
Blogger grimsaburger said...

I'd just like to point out that if you're ironing "shits" and you have "bowels" in your sink, no amount of housework can help you. Ha. Ha.

I found the best way to keep a clean house (and everyone seems to notice we have a clean house) is not so much to clean it all the time, but to not have a lot of stuff. Less tidying, less dusting, less bother. And to try one's best to teach the husband that he can undress in stages from the living room, to the dining room, to the kitchen if he wants, but he'd better take whatever item of clothing he's shed upstairs where I can't see it from my work space at the end of the dining room table. This has taken 7 years, but it gives me some hope for the future--this, and the fact that he's now in the habit of washing at least most of the dishes at night or in the morning so during my at-home work day I can safely fix breakfast and lunch without having to clean up last night's dishes to do it.

4:15 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

It's true, working from home often mean you're never not working. Many is the night I'd still be sitting here after nine 'just' finishing off something or attempting too at any rate.
Deborah two toddlers? Eek, that's a full time job in itself, never mind adding house work on top if it. Anyway, let them get into everything. I think the more germs children are exposed to the healthier they are. When we were children we were filthy from sun up to sun down and then flung into a bath and then jammies. As least we slept clean.
My mother cleans her windows every week. She needs to be on prozac.

4:21 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Yes, well spotted, a bowel left in the sink might just be very messy indeed.
Riddle me this chumleywarners. One of my other friends has a cleaner and she spends vast chunks of her time cleaning her house the day before the cleaner arrives lest the cleaner think she is a pig. Surely that defeats the entire purpose of said cleaner?

4:26 p.m.  
Anonymous FridayLeap said...

You friend cleans before the cleaner arrives! Dear g*d. Both me fella and I work from home (him for himself and me for a multinational). One or either of us will do laundry during the day and maybe some washing up, but that's about it. And we have a cleaner, she comes twice a week, 2 hours on a Monday and the same on Friday. Frankly I'd give up just about every other luxury in my life before I gave up her. Getting a cleaner was the *best* thing we ever did. I looooove my cleaner. And yes, I'm pretty sure she things we're a bit piggy, but who gives a f*ck! My house is clean and I don't have to spend any of my precious weekend doing it. And I only iron when I need stuff to wear into the office, which is like, once in a blue moon. If the fella or my kids (teenager boys) want stuff ironed they do it themselves (the fella is actually way better than ironing than me).

4:39 p.m.  
Blogger Kav said...

Speaking of housework, I was vacuuming the other day and I peeled apart two sections of the couch to get all the crud out, Erin was standing next to me, and yelled with delights as she pulled, from all the dusty, crusty detritus, a Cheerio. "look daddy, a Cheerio!" she said. Then she ate it.

Toughens them up, it does.

4:39 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Ah fluff covered cheerios, you realise you will never have to give her a tetanus shot now?
Fridayleap, I think that is some sound thinking, especially as you have teenagers.

4:56 p.m.  
Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

My mother rose at 6am every morning, hoovered, ironed - the woman ironed her dusters - and dusted, including the tops of the doors. Then she went to work for 8 hours, came home and started washing floors and of course more hoovering 'cos we'd just had tea and about 9 o'clock she'd go to bed.

She's a nutter and obsessive cleaning was one of her problems but it has left me with no desire to clean my life away like that. The house is clean as it can be with 2 five-year-olds and a cat and that's good enough.

Officially, of course, my faucets sparkle like no other's.

6:15 p.m.  
Blogger Fat Sparrow said...

I come from a long line of clean freaks on both sides of my family, and I used to work 9 hours a day, commute for 3, and come home and clean, clean, clean. Of course I had a crap marriage and never spent any time with the then-husband, so that made it a bit easier. Once I met the Spouse Sparrow, I learned to fuck my way to happiness, and the house went to hell.

Strangely enough, me stopping cleaning had no effect on my severe allergies and asthma. If anything, I improved. And this is with the foot of dirt (we have a dry, dust/dirt empty lot behind our backyard) blown into my house every day. Go figure.

Ironing? If it really, really has to be ironed, it would go to the dry cleaners. I don't have many of those clothes anymore.

And as for clutter.... My parents just moved house, downsizing, and decided that they were not keeping everything I ever owned/made as a child as a shrine to me. My 1,000 square foot house has just been taken over by 60 boxes and assorted bags. Fucked if I know what I'm supposed to do with them. I suppose we can use them as guest seating or wall dividers.

8:50 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

You could make forts with them. Actually upstairs one of the box rooms is full of cardboard boxes too, from my old place and his. I like to go in there and guess what might be in each one, threaten to open them and get them sorted. Then I turn off the light-quite pleased with my effort- and run backdownstairs to mix another drink.
Sam, your mother sounds alarming like my mother, but ONLY when it comes to cleaning.

9:01 p.m.  
Anonymous FridayLeap said...

Of course getting teenagers to iron means teaching them how to do it when they're young, and then being prepared to have the PerfectionistMother brigade whisper about you behind your back because the kid has decided that he can't be arsed either. Trick is just to wait. Magically his concern for his appearance improved dramatically once girls were on the scene. And I reckon that raising boys who know how to use a toilet brush or an iron means they're far more likely to be taken off my hands and out of my house early, rather than hanging about here into their 30s. Can you guess that I'm not an Irish mammy?

Fatsparrow - I'm asthmatic and I always used that as an excuse not *not* hoovering. Most hoovers blow so much dust out the back that they could trigger an attack (note the _could_, it never actually happened). This is why the fella had to do it before the magic cleaner arrived. And those cleaning chemicals can be well bad for your chest too.

10:17 p.m.  
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