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Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Photo by Don O'Brien
My dear husband recently introduced me to a new product from the people who brought us the Roomba. It’s a clever little robo-vacuum that sweeps and mops non-carpeted floors and only costs $200.00. Given my acute phobia of all things robotic, he indicated understandable surprise when I told him I wanted one.
“But you don’t even clean the house,” he contended.
My eyelids fell shut as my head involuntarily shuddered side to side. I asked my sweet prince, “Whachoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?!?”
He reminded me that once a month we hire a maid service.
That is entirely true, and I am entirely grateful for that titanic blessing. Because it takes two professionals four hours to clean this domicile top to bottom. That’s eight man hours. Or at least ten me-hours, because I am not a professional in that arena, and I’m kind of slow at it, and I get distracted and end up redecorating the closet or the bedroom or the attic, because I hugely prefer ordering and organizing to sweeping and sanitizing.
It is not possible, EVER, for me to have a completely clean house all at once, if I am in charge of the endeavor, because I never, EVER, have a block of ten (or nine or eight) uninterrupted hours to spend on anything. Therefore we splurge on a cleaning service so that once a month I can walk in and smell nothing but fresh, clean, filth-free happiness.
But does my adorably misguided mate seriously think that’s the only time anything gets de-dirtified around here?
I sent him an email the next day with the subject line “#YesIDoClean” to inform him that I washed, dried, and put away a load of laundry as well as vacuumed the living and dining rooms. I also did my daily broom-sweep to pick up all the litter the obnoxious feline kicks all over the laundry room every time she uses the litter box.
Stupid cat.
That may not sound like much, but it’s not ALL I did that day—just all the CLEANING I did that day.
I also wrote a couple of scenes for the sequel to my novel. Which is, by the way, going to be a breakout smash any day now.
I also called about a bill I paid but got re-billed for, did some scheduling and babysitter procurement, loaded the van with 15 cases of Girl Scout cookies to take to the booth sale I’m managing this evening, and am now about to head over to a meeting with several teachers at the middle school to figure out why one of our cherubs is struggling so fruitlessly to make the grade in one particular class.
When I get home from those activities I’ll empty the dishwasher, make dinner, clean up from dinner, and pack tomorrow’s lunches.
Hey, and I showered today, too. Bonus for everyone!
I really don’t want to give my otherwise peach of a husband a hard time about this, but—
Who am I kidding? Yes, I do.
I don’t clean the house?
I don’t clean the house?!?
Do the toilets have brown skid marks in their bowls and orange rings around the water line? No? Then I CLEANED THE HOUSE.
Do the bed linens smell like it’s time for Yosemite Sam’s yearly dip in the Rio Grande? Nay? Then I CLEANED THE HOUSE.
Does the bathtub resemble the aftermath of a hair-pulling contest in the bayou mud flats? Not so much? THEN I CLEANED THE FREAKIN’ HOUSE!
Stay-at-home moms get little enough credit for actually doing anything, especially once the kids are in school full time. Heck, sometimes even I wonder why I haven’t yet gone back to paid work. Then the school clinic calls to say that Little Girl just barfed all over the teacher, or the principal phones to tell me that Daughter is in her office again and could I please come for a conference, or Son informs me that he signed me up to chaperone a field trip to the Air and Space Museum. Today.
And there are a minimum of three annual pediatrician’s appointments and six dentist appointments, plus the orthodontist and the optometrist… and that’s just for the kiddos.
Yeah, I work pretty darn hard for a lady of leisure who DOESN’T EVEN CLEAN THE HOUSE.
Breathe into the paper bag, Mama. In and out the little paper bag.
The passive-aggressive part of me—which maintains a remarkably elephantine presence, though I strive like Sisyphus to tamp her down—is thinking about putting a temporary full-stop on all cleaning activities undertaken by me:
“Somebody knocked over a bowl of spaghetti in the fridge. Just stack stuff around it.”
“You can’t see through the basement windows? I have no idea what could be done about that.”
“The kitchen sink is growing sentient life forms out of the garbage disposal? How intriguing.”
But that would be immature.
I don’t clean the house. What a load of hooey.
I get it, though. He doesn’t see the cleaning because he’s rarely here when I do the cleaning. I suppose I can regard it a compliment—I keep everything running so smoothly and seamlessly that no one even recognizes what I’m doing.
Sure. I’m going with that explanation. Because I’m too tired from bleaching the grout to initiate a You-Want-a-Piece-of-Me? dialogue when Prince Charming(ly-Oblivious) gets home.
Still, I might skip the lipstick, tie a headscarf around my hair, and leave the Kirby in the middle of the room this evening. Just to make my point.


  1. I love it! Coming home from a visit to a couple that we know, my husband turned to me and said "I'm so glad you keep the house up like you do." Wow. Coming from the man who only seems to notice when there's a cobweb draping itself around your neck as you walk through the living room. More and more, I believe that if it bothers him, quit complaining. Do something about it.

  2. Love this! Great description of those "invisible" duties that are taken for granted. Somehow made me feel a bit better about myself just reading about all the things you do!? Keep rockin it!