Hausfrau

Have you ever heard of the term “house proud?” According to Merriam-Webster it’s being “proud of your house because you spend time and effort cleaning or improving it.” This. Is. Not. Me.

Is my house clean? Yes, it’s pretty clean. I swept and washed all of the hardwood floors today, I vacuumed most of the rugs, I even wiped down some baseboards and gave the dining room table a good scrub. I wiped crumbs off the counter, I emptied the trash and took out some recycles. But I didn’t get around to folding the three loads of laundry that are still sitting on the couch, there are dishes in the sink because the dishwasher is full and running.  I refuse to wash dishes by hand just to keep the sink empty, I mean, I’ve got to draw the line somewhere right so that I can actually spend a little time with my children, right?

Rather than calling myself “house proud” I’d call myself “house weary,” “house bored” or “house exhausted.” And here’s the funny thing. I am not necessarily complaining about all of the work I have to do. I don’t mind working hard. I will spend hours writing or painting, revising, writing a term paper on an interesting subject, weeding my garden or hiking a mountain. The difference is, I have a finished product or a goal that has been accomplished after completing those tasks. Cleaning a house with young children in it is like pushing the proverbial boulder up the mountain only to watch it roll down again and start over. Or spending hours making a sandcastle while the tide comes in. I remember making a snarky status update on my Facebook page referring to cleaning: “I’ll take Repetitive and Monotonous Tasks for $500, Alex.” If there were a category on Jeopardy about housework that’s what it would be called. I only wish I were “house proud.”

I think you are lucky if cleaning is something you enjoy doing. (Ok, I find cleaning slightly enjoyable when the kids are not at home because I can sweep up crumbs in the kitchen knowing there isn’t anyone spilling juice in the dining area or tracking in mud from the backyard as I clean–but that’s what I’d call “relatively enjoyable”). It’s still agonizing and pointless in my eyes because I know that in a few hours it will need to be done all over again. But listen to this:

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out at my sister’s house with her boys and Cooper while she was at a meeting. I grabbed a broom and started sweeping. Next thing you know, I’m wiping down the table, the stove and the counters, picking up toys and running the vacuum. I actually enjoyed doing it. But why? Why did I enjoy cleaning my sister’s house and yet I despise cleaning my own? I realized that it’s not the actual chores I dislike, but rather the absurdity of doing the same things every day for (little) people who don’t even notice and on top of it, seeing all of my hard work being undone, often within minutes of finishing it. But when I was cleaning my sister’s house, I knew she would appreciate my the help and I wouldn’t be around to see the house get messed up again.

So what exactly is the moral of my story? If you need a break from your own monotonous housework, swap with a friend or family member! Go fold their laundry and have them fold yours!

Are you house proud or are you more like me?