Once upon a time housework was my bliss, my only bliss. I lived for being the überhausfrau. Dirt was my enemy and ironing was a joy. Hunting dust bunnies made me feel powerful. Wine and coffee stains were obliterated by the accuracy of my trigger finger and bottle of Shout. I was driven to wipe out filth, which we all know is evil.
In the Oldbitey & Shrinky world, the division of labour was clear, the boundaries agreed upon before entrance into the marital contract was made. That traditional 50’s life meant Shrinky brought home the bacon (or fakon in this vegetarian household) and Oldbitey cooked it up in the proverbial pan. Things haven’t changed. Deep down, I’m very much that anal chick who got down on hands and knees to scrub the floor of her dorm room and I always, ALWAYS wear an apron when I cook. Yet…
Yet, I admit to something of a slackening in my duties. Instead of cleaning EVERY DAY (as I once did) I find I clean three to four times a week. Colonies of dust bunnies have formed beneath the fridge. A layer of dirt has settled on the dining room sideboard. Laundry tends to grow into an expanding-like-flowing-lava mountain.
Shrinky blames my writing for this. I blame our location. Ten months out of the year the windows are open. Prevailing winds blast crud into my house. I swiffer the dust, scrub the polished wood floors, make sure the pillows are fluffed, and wear lipstick and a ribbon in my perfect hair. In fact, I’m wearing lipstick and a ribbon as I write this. I’m also wearing polka-dot jammies, a pink chenille bathrobe, and Keds–what I like to think of as my cleaning uniform because why would I scrub a toilet BEFORE I have a shower? Of course my cleaning uniform is strikingly similar to my writing outfit, but that’s beside the point. I know now I have been fighting a futile battle because fifteen minutes after I swiffer, scrub, and fluff, the dirt is back. It took me a few years, but I finally worked out my constant housework was in vain.
I know now, filthy evil can never be conquered, but it can be controlled. It can be monitored on a bi-weekely rather than daily basis. I can write while the washer runs. I can mop the floor to stretch out legs that have become stiff from sitting and writing all day. We had that drought, and with global warming and all, waiting to do the washing, waiting until I have a Mt Kilauea, makes good ecological sense. A slackening of housewifely duty? Hardly. As a female, I can multitask. I can wear apron, get the clothes washed, and write. I can save the world.
Besides, a little dirt keeps us all healthy.