Tag Archives: housework

Happy Anniversary To Me

26 Sep

“Dear husband,” I said, “it’s been a year.”

“No!” he answered. “Really?”

“Yes. A whole year at the end of this month,” I said.

“But what about that time our daughter had a sleep over and our son didn’t come out of his cave for hours?”

“Oh. My. God,” I said. “It hasn’t been a year for THAT! And don’t tell me it feels like it!”

“Well, then I’m at a loss,” he said.

Normally, I’m the one who forgets anniversaries, particularly my wedding anniversary. I got married on either the 16th or 17th of October. Never can remember which. So, whenever anyone asks me when I got married, I say, “Saturday. It was a Saturday.” My husband has the PhD in History. He remembers the date and rolls his eyes when I don’t.

It has been a year since I started writing and publishing Snide Reply. At the risk of sounding like a Holiday Letter, I thought I’d go through some of my old posts and update you on some of the more popular. For those who jumped on the Snide wagon later in its run, I’m including links to the original posts.

I started running just a couple of months before I started blogging. At that time, I could run about 3 miles. I am writing this having run 9 miles this afternoon. Of course, I can barely get out of my chair to hobble to the kitchen and refill my teacup.

I still don’t have an attractive website. I have a really cool domain name and I have a website. The two shall not meet in my lifetime. See, the website is totally lame. I built it myself when I had no idea where my life was going. That happens when you make plans and life does that mice and men thing with them.

I have a better idea where my life is going these days so maybe it’s time to re-tackle the website. To my endless stupefaction and glee, I am now a parent columnist. Me! The self-admitted queen of parental immaturity. Ok, so it’s only been a couple of weeks, but a girl has to start somewhere. Look at Jenny McCarthy! Her parenting qualifications are . . .what?  Oh, yeah, she posed naked and had a baby. Do you think T. Berry Brazelton ever posed naked?

The worst I’ve done is go commando thought the pharmacist who knows has moved on to Wal-Mart. Actually, I may be going commando again soon. And my husband had to skip the briefs at least once. Laundry used to be his responsibility and lawn mowing was mine. We tried to get our son to do the lawn-mowing thing because he hated doing the litter box thing. He wanted nothing to do with the lawn because it was, as he said, “outside.”

“Look,” I said. “you either mow the lawn or you do the laundry.” Ha! I thought, now I have him.

“Cool!” he said. “I love laundry! Laundry smells awesome!”

So, now my husband mows the lawn and my son does the laundry. We have realized, though, that having a teenage boy with ADHD responsible for keeping us in clean undies was probably not our best parenting move. Many is the time a load made it into the washer and stayed there . . .and stayed there . . .and stayed there. Our son has learned that laundry only smells awesome if it makes it from the washer to the dryer in fewer than 24 hours.

The portal to hell is still outside our front door. The dog is still insane. The cat is on a diet. So far, so good. He hasn’t broken anything out of spite. He may have taken a nibble or two out of the fish, though, which is looking rather ragged of late. The end is likely near, as evidenced by his tendency to swim sideways. I predict he’ll go to the great toilet bowl in the sky before the end of the year.

I’m still a pretty bad Buddhist, according to my kids. My son pointed out to me just a few days ago that a good Buddhist probably wouldn’t call the driver who cut her off a “freaking idiot.” I’m better about the cyclists who fly past me on the prairie trail. I no longer mumble obscenities at them. I am saving my obscenities for the people who are treating the prairie as their personal cutting garden these days. My daughter suggested I try out a nearby trail that runs through an equestrian center. I’m pretty sure even Buddha couldn’t keep his cool running behind horses, but then again, it would definitely keep me mindful and aware.

As my episodes on the prairie illustrate, I still have anger issues. I still hate liver, read crap and get jealous, too. But, I haven’t taken a serious trip to Funky Town in a while. My son is ok with “Spithead” and no one has puked around here lately. My kids are still pikers when it comes to sibling rivalry.

I am overjoyed to report that the shed never went up. The cosmos aligned in a gigantic “I told you so,” when my neighbor hired someone to survey the property line. I left the hot pink flagging tape which proved the line did, indeed, fall exactly where I said it did as long as possible. We found, in fact, that we have a lot more property than we thought we did. My neighbor and I have entered a sort of cold war, though. He no longer speaks to me and his children run like rabbits whenever I come out of the house. I’m thinking it just needs a little more time and a lot more of me being the nicest, most cheerful person I know how to be. Stop laughing; I can be very cheerful.

I’ve made lots of people laugh in the past year. I think I’ve made some cry. I know I’ve hurt feelings, unintentionally of course. Still, I’m more careful about what I write and how I phrase things. There are certain things I’ll never write, at least not here and not as non-fiction. But I’ll keep writing and I hope you’ll keep reading.

Thanks, from the bottom of my heart, for a truly wonderful year.

Tidy, Whitie!

10 Jan

When I graduated from college, I moved back home but I couldn’t wait to get out of what I saw as my mother’s house.  I moved out on my own as soon as possible and never moved back. I’ve been a homeowner for nearly 20 years now and a mother for more than 15. I can say with all honesty that I would give my wood-burning fireplace and my private master bathroom to live in my mother’s home again. My mother’s home was immaculate; my home is, as we say, a pig mess.

Coats were hung in my mother’s home. Counters were clear in my mother’s home. Floors were grit- and stain-free in my mother’s home. Chrome shined in my mother’s home. My home? Not so much. There are sweatshirts lying on the couch and jackets hung from the backs of chairs. Papers are stacked in a precarious pile on the kitchen counter. While the dog patrols the kitchen floor, he doesn’t do it for aesthetic reasons. No. My home is decidedly a pig mess.

I’m not proud of my pig mess, but I’m really at a loss as to how to eliminate it. If I knew what my mother’s secret was I would use it. My mother worked, had kids, had friends, took lessons, even had hobbies. In short, we aren’t talking June Cleaver here. The problem is, I don’t remember what my mother did.

I have no idea how my mother got the house clean or even when she got the house clean. I don’t recall her dancing around the living room with a dust rag and a can of Pledge singing the “Lemon Tree” song. I saw Santa Claus more often than I saw Mr. Clean. I never saw my mother with a mop in her hands. I have no idea how the toilets got clean. I have no memory of my mother cleaning anything other than my mouth out with soap over sassing back.

I never thought of myself as a pig. When I lived alone, there was the occasional “oops, I left the dirty dishes in the sink while I went out of town” thing, but I generally lived in a clean, neat environment. Even after I got married, our home was usually clean, certainly never embarrassing.

Then we had a child. Children themselves are small, particularly when they are infants. They fit in your arms quite nicely. They can easily be carried around in a carrier or sling or duffle bag or whatever the hell kind of thing babies get carried around in when you happen to have your baby.

The problem with children, obviously, is the stuff that comes with them. Eventually, you move into the “stuff goes in but never goes out” phase of parenting. Sure, the kids outgrow things and things break, but new stuff comes in. Our son has outgrown the toys with itty-bitty parts phase, just in time for our daughter to enter it. Now, instead of stepping on Legos in the middle of the night, we step on Littlest Pet Shop figures. Both are equally painful. Our son hasn’t given up hoarding, though. Once, we couldn’t get our son to bathe enough. Now, he bathes every day, using a clean dry towel from the linen closet each time and depositing said towel on his bedroom floor.

I fear my children’s slovenly habits have influenced me. I no longer leave just my shoes lying around. Now, I leave papers on the counter where I’ll see them and remember to do whatever it is the paper reminded me to do. Right now, there are two checks, a note from my daughter’s dentist, three library books, a magazine renewal form, liner notes from two CDs and a recipe all sitting in a pile by the telephone where I will see them and remember to deposit the checks, call the dentist, go to the library, renew the magazine, put away the liner notes and get the ingredients for the recipe. The pile has been there for two weeks. There is similarly justified clutter throughout the house.

I used to say that I was tired, I was busy, I had two kids, I was in grad school. . . all to excuse my pig mess. But, I’m no longer in grad school and I’m not particularly tired. I still have two kids and I’m kind of busy, but I don’t really think those excuses can fly anymore.

See, my neighbor has two kids and she’s pretty busy and her house looks great. All the time. I would really like to hate her, but I can’t. She’s a great neighbor and she doesn’t flaunt the fact that her house looks great. In fact, she doesn’t think it looks so great at all. That is probably why it always looks good.

I think another reason her house always looks great is she cleans it. In the summer, I like to sit in my gazebo with a cup of tea in the morning and read the newspaper. Sometimes, when I finish the newspaper, I’ll refill my cup. Then, I’ll need something else to read, so I’ll go get a paperback. I’ll sit in the gazebo, drink my second cup of tea and read my book. Then, I’ll hear a sort of whining noise coming from the neighbor’s house. It sounds familiar. I focus on it and realize my neighbor is vacuuming her house. “Hm,” I think. “Maybe I should vacuum something. Maybe at the end of this chapter.” You know the rest.

One day, I decided that my house was messy because I didn’t put my things away, thereby giving my children the idea that they didn’t need to put their things away either. So, I have been putting my things away. I cleared the space next to my bed of a shopping bag full of paperbacks, several out of date magazines, a pair of shoes I thought were lost and six half-finished knitting projects. I successfully broke the habit of putting things on the steps rather putting them away immediately. I have gotten myself down to one pile of junk in the kitchen. My kids are still slobs.

I will never know how my mother did it. I’m sure it involved lots of cleaning and straightening that I will probably never master. I know this means that I will never live in a home like my mother’s. When I have that hankering for the peace and calm that a tidy home provides, though, I’ll go knocking on my neighbor’s door. I promise to wipe my feet on the doormat.

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