“Come sit down and relax. We’ll put the dishes away / pack tomorrow’s lunch / clean the kitchen / fill-in-the-blank-task later”, yells my husband (who is sitting down and relaxing) from the livingroom. “Oh, WE will?” I think, in my snarkiest tone. “It’s Sunday night! We’re back to work tomorrow!”
How on Earth is he relaxed when the IMMEDIATE NEED to get all of this stuff done is causing me to practically implode? And how on Earth am I still allowing him to breathe after making a statement like that? And why the hell can’t I just RELAX and not be wiping down counters and scrubbing sauce out of the microwave? (I always cover my food when reheating, so guess who is responsible for the sauce-bomb? Arrrgggghh.) What is it about this endless list of chores that causes me such anxiety? Lord love a duck. Why do I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders? Is that pile of junk mail tucked away on the counter really going to be what pushes me to commit hara-kiri in the middle of my kitchen?
I have a strong memory from my childhood of lemon-scented ammonia on Saturday mornings. I would wake up to the sound of the vacuum, my mother washing down walls and baseboard and scrubbing floors by hand. I still believe in washing my floors by hand. I can’t put my daughter to bed at night without making sure that all of her toys are sorted and organized – pieces and parts in their proper homes. (Don’t be fooled! I’m making it sound as though my house is spotless; it is not.) My point is that a clean house is very important to me, sometimes so much though, that it causes me to be frenzied, anxious, unable to relax. Like, I must clean NOW. Sometimes it causes me worry and angst. Like, my womanhood is on the line – or a clean house is some measure of myself.
Don’t get me wrong. I rarely judge others on cleanliness. I will laugh if you point out the dust on your shelf or hairball in the corner. But in my own house? I laser in from across the livingroom on that spot of tracked-in mud and feel compelled to make it disappear. NOW. And I’m sure I’m imparting my insanity on my dear husband. Yet he has adopted my friend’s husband’s tenet: he just has a higher tolerance for messes than I do. Adorable. However, this line of thinking means that I carry this exhausting burden of dedicating my precious weekends and evenings after work to cleaning.
Part of me would just love to not be worried about the way the house looks, or whether or not all of the “chores” are done — to just relax and soak up the rest of Sunday before being in overdrive all week. But there’s this terrible comfort in the anxiety of getting bags packed, laundry folded, sheets changed, dog hair vacuumed, and crumbs wiped before I can actually ENJOY sitting and relaxing like my darling husband can. And I don’t think this is a knock on him. Well, not completely, anyway.