We’re supposed to hate cleaning. Dread chores. Detest dishes. Loathe laundry.
I’ve sounded the obligatory groans and mumbles over vacuuming or doing a pile of dishes. I put on my “liberated woman hat” and talked about the shared responsibility of housework in our marriage. It’s not “woman’s work.” It’s house work. And we both live in the house, yes?
But in truth, I like housework. It’s zen activity. Simple but not entirely mindless. You have to pay attention, but you can sink into it easily, and then it leaves you with tangible results that you can enjoy and feel proud of. Other inspiring, modern women also like cleaning, I’ve learned.
And while I do expect my husband to chip in, I’ve realized that it’s all clearly more important to me. That the dishes are washed up after dinner and not in the morning. That the bed is made and the throw cushions (superfluous, I know, but pretty) are arranged just so. I notice these things more often and more quickly than Mike does. I get bummed out when things are messy.
I will preface this next statement by asserting that I really appreciate everything my husband does to help out, but the truth is, I am just better at cleaning than he is. My dishes are shinier, my dog-hair eradication more exhaustive, my tidying more comprehensive. Like it’s part of my genetic code, while I slip him furtive suggestions to improve his efforts. Sorry, feminism.
Since we moved, I have been struggling to adapt to our new, much cozier space. I am trying to love our apartment. It’s convenient and clean (although there is a weird smell that I just cannot get rid of), but it’s not perfect. No balcony, too-high windows for our dog. The breakfast counter that opens to the dining area oddly placed at chest-level, making me feel like Alice in Wonderland straining to reach.
My dad always joked about “male bonding” which was code (along with got your shoes on?) for I’m recruiting you to do manual labor with me. This was often chopping wood (or hunting) and he’d say, “come on, let’s Booond!” to my brother and his friends, my dad’s friends, any boyfriends or potential boyfriends my sisters would bring home.
When I clean, it’s “domestic bonding.” I’m building a connection with this imperfect space, making it ours, giving myself a reason to be proud of it. I’m not quite at “love” with our apartment and I may never be. But after I dust and vacuum, put things away, tidy the bedroom and take in that fresh vinegar smell*, I do feel proud of our little space (and this all takes much less time here than it did in our house). And actually, that too-tall counter is the perfect height to catch the gleam of afternoon sun after I’ve wiped it down.
How do you feel about housework? Love, hate? Do you feel this bonding thing or am I taking it too far?* Yeah, white vinegar. If you can’t eat it, do you want to eat off of it? I use vinegar with water in a little spray bottle for cleaning almost everything…