A former colleague recently said to me, “Housewifing seems glamorous when you are working, doesn’t it?”
It sure does.
In the last few years, especially since I got boo’d up and started living with my boyfriend/husband I dreamt of having more time to get our “house in order”. I was raised under the notion that “cleanliness is next to godliness” so a clean home is literally divine. And an organized AND clean home, well heck, you’re just about opening the doors alongside St. Peter. Plus, my Myers-Brigg is all ENTJ so I love how things look and feel super organized. This was the goal and how I hoped to live: To create and maintain a beautiful clean organized and well run home for our little family. And according to my math, this would be a cinch once I no longer had a job sucking up 8-10 hours of my energy and time.
Maybe I forgot to carry the 1, or something but the math didn’t quite work out. Keeping a spotless well organized and meticulously clean house is not a function of time or energy as I thought it was. It’s actually a function of time and desire. And clearly I don’t desire it enough to spend the time time nor energy on it.
So instead I settle with having the house “clean enough”. Now I know no one has ever said, “Clean enough is next to Godliness.” And frankly, who wants anything “Clean enough.” I mean, if my doctor is doing surgery on me, I don’t want his hands “Clean enough.” I jest, but there is a reality here… my doctor’s hands should be meticulously clean. My living room, doesn’t have to be. I do a deep clean on the house (4 hours) every week, dusting, mopping, the whole nine – in addition to a 10 minute tidy every night, and a Sunday night spruce up. I realize this is sufficient to keep the house “clean enough”. If we have company coming over, the house can be ready in 15 minutes or five if we’re lazy and just want to run the vacuum.
Now for the record, this is a vast improvement from how Fury and I used to live. About 18 months ago we implemented a full Marie Kon Mari “tidy” on our home and lifestyle, and she was right.. it was life changing magic. Our home which cycled from clean to post-tornado conditions in a matter of days is actually more consistently in the clean state. Tornado-like conditions are rare and only happen after a bought of low energy for both of us such as a long trip.
My personal trainer used to say, “progress not perfection” and when I think about where we were to where we are, there has been loads of progress. Yet I still feel this unwavering guilt that I don’t work and therefore the house should be cleaner. Somehow it has been ingrained in me that a woman who doesn’t work should keep a clean home. No one ever said this to me and it is totally possible that I made this up. I am an educated woman, yet somehow this still haunts me.
I am learning to make peace with my decision to keep a “clean enough” home. I need to recognize and own that there are more ways to contribute to a household than financially or keeping the house clean. Our household needs my skills and talents to run efficiently not just my physical labor. After all, the cleaning of our house could be outsourced but the internal processes that keep our household running can’t.
Despite the reality TV shows, the life of a “real housewife” isn’t that glamorous at all. Just like “work” it is daily struggles of shifting priorities and managing personal as well as societal expectations. In fact, it’s not so different from “work” at all. Just that time is your boss and personal satisfaction is your paycheck.