You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

by Marinka on November 17, 2008

Sometimes, I just want my kids to fake it.

I don’t know if it’s called “manners” in other families or what, but yesterday, when the guard at the Cloisters asked my son not to touch a 900 year old fountain from France because it will not withstand many cleanings and said, “I know your mom cleans all the time at home, but we have to be careful with things that are very old,” I would have liked my son to nod thoughtfully, reflecting his understanding rather than blink rapidly and cock his head to the side a la the RCA dog mascot.
Of course, perhaps the guard thought that he had stunned my son with the antiquity and history of the piece he was pawing, but I know better. Because I am not a mom who cleans.  And that’s ok with me, as long as my kids don’t announce it to the world.
Many years ago, before I saw the light in the shape of Husbandrinka, I dated a man who had the world’s most fantastic mother.  She was glamorous, talented and interesting.  I desperately wanted  her to like me and I decided that the best way to endear myself to her was to lie as much as possible so as not to reveal my true personality.  
Sometimes my boyfriend and I took weekend trips with his parents and his mom and I shared the back seat.  She would ask me questions,  like did I want to be rich and famous?  “No,” I lied, “I want to do something meaningful.”  She laughed.  For a long time.
One time she asked me if I liked to clean.  “Like it?” I shrieked in a way that I assume cult members are trained to when a new convert appears.  “It gives me a deep sense of satisfaction. I especially love ironing.” That addition was especially precious since I did not then, nor do I now, own an iron.
“That’s good,” she said. “Because I never cared for it and find it a waste of time.  But you’re lucky if you actually enjoy it.”
You would think that it would be easy to say, “I hate it, too!  We’re practically soul mates!” at that point and not sound out of your fucking mind, but you would be wrong.
But I did learn not to be ashamed about hating to clean and to pay someone to do it, just as soon as I could afford to.  And although I never regretted one cent that I paid towards freeing myself from housework, there are times when I feel like I’m not domestic enough, and that my very femininity is at stake.  Generally, I shrug it off, but the confusion in my son’s eyes this weekend when the guard said “your mother cleans all the time” gave me pause.  Not enough to take over the cleaning, of course, I’m not completely out of my mind.  But pause.  
And seriously, Cloister guy?  Whatever happened to, “don’t touch that thing, you rotten kid!”?  No further explanation necessary.

One year ago ...

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

anymommy November 17, 2008 at 3:25 am

My kids have never seen an iron. I consider that a huge parenting success. Be proud of that dumb look, Marinka, you’ve raised a boy that doesn’t understand what it means for a woman to clean!

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Kylie w Warszawie November 17, 2008 at 3:39 am

I have OCD tendencies and I just recently found a website that harnesses the OCD into cleaning. So my husband and children are no longer allowed to put anything in the kitchen sink because it must always be sparkling, and they think I’m crazy, but I’m pretty happy now. But then, it’s just the OCD talking.

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Vodka Mom November 17, 2008 at 4:14 am

“not enough to take over the cleaning”. I’m with you, sister. I’m with you.

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Renée aka Mekhismom November 17, 2008 at 6:20 am

An iron? What’s that? No. Seriously. I have no idea.

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Sophie, Inzaburbs November 17, 2008 at 7:00 am

I am glad I am not the only one with an ironing aversion. I have always felt it was something which I should hide – my mother irons underpants – but now I can hold my head up high.

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Kate Coveny Hood November 17, 2008 at 7:12 am

I’m a terrible housekeeper and often tell people that my cleaning lady sucks. That would be me of course since my husband thinks that we should be able to clean our own house and not wasted much needed money on help (not that this motivates him to pick up his own socks or anything).

I’m with you – cleaning isn’t my thing.

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Newt November 17, 2008 at 7:16 am

Ironing isn’t cleaning anyway. Cleaning serves a hygeinic purpose. Ironing is just fussing.

Besides, since both my dad and my husband stand around ironing their shirts while watching football on Sundays, I’ve always thought of ironing as “men’s work.” It’s hot and dangerous. Not for my delicate hands.

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OHmommy November 17, 2008 at 7:21 am

On some days, when I “miss” cleaning my daughter and I pretend to be the cleaning lady. No joke. I know it is sad. But we clean well together and she enjoys is at 5 years old.

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Kristine November 17, 2008 at 8:11 am

Anything that must be ironed is taken to the dry cleaner for laundering. And I can’t even tell you how much I love getting the money out of the ATM to pay Margarita every 2 weeks. Without her, our toilets might get cleaned once a month…if they really look like they need it.

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Heather November 17, 2008 at 8:30 am

My Mother in Law cleans like a mad woman, yet her son, to whom I married is the complete opposite. When I first dated him, he had not dusted for 2 years (I am not kidding either).

So my thoughts are, you produce the opposite. Therefore, if I don’t clean maybe my kids will grow up being the opposite. So Marinka, with those thoughts your son will want to clean when he is older, I think you are teaching a valuable lesson!

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jenontheedge November 17, 2008 at 9:37 am

House cleaners, dry cleaners, and other paid services were invented for a reason. Don’t feel guilty for paying someone to clean your toilets — rejoice and then rejoice some more.

One day, when I’m no longer paying for my kids’ teeth, I’m going to have a cleaning crew come to my house on a regular basis.

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Braja November 17, 2008 at 9:48 am

I actually love ironing, but I don’t do it. Why put someone out of a job. Same with my house cle…ah, crap, I’m lyin’. I hate house cleaning and I’m glad I have a maid. I get holy once a month and do a pile of things myself and feel like I’ve regained control of the kingdom, but that’s about it. Rest of the time I’m too busy to bother and just glad I have Anjana…

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Kirsten / Mama Ginger Tree November 17, 2008 at 10:25 am

I think I would give up my morning cup of tea before I gave up my cleaning lady.

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Tooj November 17, 2008 at 11:16 am

LOL Your femininity at stake!! No no no…..you might be missing the nesting instinct that most moms have or gain over time (I don’t think it’s just related to pregnancy as all the “wise books” say)…but I don’t think your feminine ways are in jeopardy! LOL Great post.

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Rachel November 17, 2008 at 11:24 am

Oh god, I can’t even begin to describe how insanely jealous I am of all of you with cleaning ladies… My one goal in life is to someday be able to afford one myself. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than having my house be all sparkly and tidy. Except maybe if someone else had made it that way.

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phd in yogurtry November 17, 2008 at 11:51 am

I hate to clean. I hire someone to do it for me. I occasionally get into a fit of cleaning but it’s only when company’s coming. Life is too short. My house is clean enough, which is to say, not very, but we’re all healthy.

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Debo Hobo November 17, 2008 at 2:06 pm

I used to love to clean for my (ex) husband and my son. It made their lives easier. But now I am hard pressed to wash a dish or vacuum anything. We’ve got plenty of folks willing to be underpaid to do it.

Eck!

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Madge November 17, 2008 at 4:10 pm

i hate when people assume i do certain domestic things

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Lish November 17, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Doesn’t everyone use a cleaning service? I was sold on it after I read some non-fiction book about rich people. One guy said the key to being rich is to never do anything yourself that you can afford to pay someone else to do (ie, it leaves you time for what you need to be an expert at).

I was recently told that I was lazy for not cooking. I shrugged and said – Some call it lazy. I call it priorities.

I went to the drycleaner recently to have something repaired and the little Asian owner chastised me. He said I should learn to sew. I looked at him and said – that’s what I have you for.

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Lish November 17, 2008 at 4:56 pm

And don’t worry about cloister guy. He’s probably an anomaly. A couple of years ago, I was at the Hermitage and started to touch something in fascination and a little old round Russian woman screamed something at me that I’m sure translated as “don’t touch that thing, you rotten kid!” in English.

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Frogs in my formula November 17, 2008 at 7:34 pm

I’ve finally gotten to the point where I don’t see the dustballs anymore. For a long time I lied and said I didn’t see them (to make myself feel better about not cleaning), but now it’s the truth. Oh shit, I just put a dustball to bed instead of my kid. BRB.

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steenky bee November 17, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Oh how I needed this post. I’ve decided that I’m no longer embarassed to say that I hate to clean. I really, really hate it. I realize it’s a desirable trait to claim to hate it and then run flitting around cleaning all day long, but that’s just not for me. I now feel slightly validated. I’ll dust tommorow, or maybe not.

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Heinous November 17, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Cleaning? We have a person that does that too. It’s much, much easier that way.

Since when is drudgery feminine?

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Heather, Queen of Shake Shake November 18, 2008 at 4:40 am

That guy was an ass. Why didn’t he say his dad cleaned all of the time? People still think the woman has to do all of the cleaning.

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Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas November 18, 2008 at 8:36 am

I just lost my maid. For the holidays. Merry fucking Hallogivingmas.

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Jen November 19, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Oh I hate cleaning too, would pay anything to have someone else do it ALL for me, but with a student budget, at this moment I just can’t. Le sigh.

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