As much as I’d like to think we as humans have evolved past gender roles, it really hasn’t happened in my house 100%. Somehow, cleaning the entire house is my job and the care of the lawn, bushes and everything else that grows within our borders has fallen on my husband’s shoulders. That, and anything that needs to be “fixed” (except the dog…that fell under my jurisdiction because she’s a she).
Mark works long hours, sometimes through the weekend. So, spending the little time he has home on the yard takes up most of the time he has for the kids. (That’s mostly due to Mark being a perfectionist. He can’t just cut the lawn, he has to use a laser level on it.) When the kids starting singing, “Cat’s in the cradle” I had to step in.
“Hire a guy to do the lawn, Mark.”
“I’m a guy. I can do it.”
“I know you can do it, but it takes you 12 hours.”
“I like to do it right.”
“I know you do, Honey…but by the time you finish the back yard, the front yard needs to be cut again.”
I finally got him to agree to try it. He hired a professional lawn service (I’m guessing that’s the first time that poor guy was subjected to a lawn pop-quiz to get a job). It’s been awesome. They come once a week and cut, trim and edge. Done. Except for the snarky “Look at that bush…I could trim it better with my eyes closed” remarks from Mark.
Why is it that you can see the solution so clearly for other people’s problems but struggle through your own forever?
This was my awaking or Oprah “Aha” moment: I was so frustrated at not being able to clean the house while I was watching my kids. I could sneak in a toilet clean during nap time or a quick vacuum if I gave my son a ride on it. I’m talking a thorough once over. That wonderful feeling of having your entire house clean at once. Every room you walk into is done. I love that feeling. I need that feeling. So what did I do? I hired a babysitter to play with my kids for an entire day so I could clean my house. Sure…YOU can see it clearly…it took me a few hours. After cleaning 2 bathrooms, the kids rooms and the office…I was headed for the kitchen when I got a glance at my kids laughing hysterically with the babysitter. They were playing a game that I hadn’t had time to play with them yet. It’s like a huge mirror fell from the sky and I saw myself and the situation for the first time. I had to laugh. Then I cried. I was so conditioned to believe that a real woman and a good Mom can clean her house, make the meals, do the shopping and still have time to construct a medieval castle out of toilet paper tubes with her kids. I also have a job. I travel all over the country to bring laughter & merriment to you people. I deserve to have a cleaning crew come to help out with the cleaning. My head kept telling me that but somehow I just couldn’t do it. Why did I feel so guilty?
I finally had to call it “my birthday gift to myself”. I’ll just hire a crew to give the house a once-over so I can have that “whole house is clean” feeling.
They came to my house at 9am and didn’t leave until 4pm. I left the house with the kids so we wouldn’t be in their way. I took my kids out for a day of fun. We went to the Larkins and had a playdate. Fun. I had fun with my kids. The ”not distracted, thinking of all the things I should be doing” kind of fun. In the middle of all the fun, Nate (unprompted) said, “Mommy…I love you!” Wow. That was worth all the money I spent.
Then we went home.
(sniff) “Hey…you boys smell that?”
“Yeah, it smells like that stuff you spilled on the clothes and cried.”
“Yup. Isn’t it wonderful?…Now both of you…take off your shoes, float into your room without touching anything. Mommy’s going to walk from room to room crying happy tears. Then I’m going to cancel my gym membership to pay the cleaning ladies to come once a month.”