Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Sisyphean Housewife

Two months post-partum and I finally feel like I’m starting to get back in the swing of things. I think I might actually be getting ahead of the dirt and clutter that plague this house. For several days in a row, the house is cleaner or tidier at the end of the day than it was at the beginning. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but to me it kinda is.

I am good at many things. Housekeeping is not one of them. I am rarely motivated to clean, and when I am motivated I don’t really do a very good job. To me, it's boring, gross, and tedious; and I am amazed that there are people out there who really enjoy it. Most of the time, I frankly don’t care about a little mess (ok, a lot of mess) so my baseline for acceptable cleanliness is pretty low. I clean out of a sense of duty and a desire not to live in a house reminiscent of a Hoarders episode.

For the past however many months, this house has been in the red in terms of cleanliness. Between being extremely pregnant, being laid up for two weeks after a complicated birth, having houseguests, and getting accustomed to the schedules of two tiny humans instead of just one, and a toddler tornado tearing through the house daily, chores just weren’t happening, and messes were accumulating. Our plan to eat out much less frequently also fell by the wayside. Fortunately my darling husband does more than his fair share around the house so things never got too out of control, but even still…

After Kyle was born we had a professional cleaning service come in and deep clean the whole house. It was pretty much the best thing ever. This time around, we didn’t do that. So here I am digging us out of dirt debt, slowly but surely. You can actually see the countertops in the kitchen. I dusted the ledge of my vanity backsplash. Today I plan to even bathe the baby.

But at the end of the day, for each surface cleared of some project, each pile of mail sorted, each room swept, there is another chore looming on the horizon. I go to bed at night feeling like Sisyphus, but instead of a boulder, it is a dog hair tumbleweed that I am forever pushing up a hill. It gets to be overwhelming and mentally exhausting. 

No matter how many loads of laundry I do in a day (and laundry for four is exponentially more than laundry for three), at the end of the day we shed our clothes, meaning the laundry is never finished. No matter how much of an effort I make to keep dirty dishes out of the sink (which means keeping the clean dishes out of the dishwasher), there is always that one last ice cream bowl, bedside water glass or errant sippy cup that remains unwashed each evening. No matter how many times a day we pick up toddler toys, there is still shit everywhere (Not actual shit. Usually.). 

Even making the bed becomes an item on tomorrow’s looming to-do list the moment the covers are pulled back for the night (which is why I never bother making the bed in the first place.). It is impossible to go to sleep without undone chores weighing on my mind. Sometimes I spend more time thinking about a task than it would take to just do it. Thanks to that mental list, I can never shake the feeling that this woman’s work is quite literally never done.

I know, from the number of memes on the topic, that I am not alone in this sentiment. And I know it’s a first world problem – a problem of abundance, an abundance for which I should be grateful this Thanksgiving holiday. 

So I ask – how do you cope? What simple things have you done to awaken your inner Martha Stewart? I know this pack rat should purge. I should make a meal plan. A chore chart. Things I’ve tried that last a week or two. What else have you got, people of the internet?

1 comment:

Kristen said...

Hire a cleaning lady! We have a tiny income and I'm willing to be cheap about pretty much everything else, but I NEED my cleaning lady!