Here's what I hear, everywhere I go. “My house is so dirty, I have to clean it all the time, I hate it, sorry, the place is a mess, blah blah blah.” Ladies and gentlemen, please. Seriously? Enough.
Here’s the thing about cleaning: No one likes to do it. Except for a chosen few, who have a clinically diagnosed condition called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. And in their case, they *like* to clean, so no problem there. In fact, I’m thinking of hosting an OCD support group so that bitches will freak out at the mess when they come over and start cleaning the fuck out of my house.
|"It didn't get up and walk away, now did it?"|
But I cannot stand the chaos. Every horizontal surface in this house is piled with it. I come in the front door and the clutter jumps on my back and pushes me down to the floor. The chaos in my head is reflected and amplified by the clutter in my house. What's in this pile? Is this a bill? Where is the IRS letter, the grad night flyer, the doctor's note, the Groupon, the love letter? The de-cluttering books (and yes, people, this is a genre) all say to start small. Choose one tiny place and make order there. Use that success to move on to the next project. So now I have a house full of clutter with one drawer of Legos arranged in rainbow order.
One way I have learned to handle it is this: I treat my home like a public space. I go through the house and gather up all the shit that belongs to me. The stuff I need. The stuff I'm responsible for. Then I stack all the rest of it at the end of the table and let the rest of them figure it out. Nice metaphor, huh?
My husband has on occasion suggested that a housekeeper might not be a bad idea. It’s a horrible idea. For one thing, we certainly can’t afford it. And if we could, I still wouldn’t because I could buy a lot of great wine and even more not-so-great wine with that same money. In any case, it's a good thing I can't afford a cleaning lady because it would make me crazy that my house was messy. I don’t think I’d actually *clean* before she came, but doubtless I would *have* to straighten up. And I'd probably follow her around while she was here. Who knows what kinds of things are lying in wait to embarrass me? How do you say "dildo" in Spanish? It won't matter.
My daughter, a very wise and together young woman, overheard me apologizing to someone about how messy my house was. (I know, right? Apologizing.) Afterward, she said to me, "Mom, look around. Many intelligent and fascinating people live in this small space. We are all interested in lots of things. Cleaning doesn’t happen to be one of them. You are a bright and capable woman. If you wanted it clean, you would clean it. Move on."
[She’s sixteen. I have to keep reminding myself that they come through us, not from us. But I want the credit for that one right there.]
Of course she is right.
My point is that housecleaning is a hugely divisive and counter-productive issue for women. (And let’s set aside the whole gender issue of who *does* the housework. One rant at at time.) It’s just one more basically meaningless thing that we waste time measuring and comparing and judging and feeling guilty and helpless and angry about. Listen to me very carefully. No one cares about your dirty house. NO ONE. So could we all please just LET IT GO and get on with more important things? Like being awesome. I'll start.