Sometimes I feel like I’m a bit of a lemon when it comes to domesticity. The funny thing is, in many ways, I’m a girly-girl, so you’d think it would come naturally this–keeping house; but it doesn’t. You see, I was quite spoiled growing up … oh sure, I had chores, but nothing a scrub-brush and a little white-lie couldn’t fix. My mom always duped my sister and I into our chores by telling us how, “good” we were at doing them.
“Sweetie you are just so good at cleaning the toilets,” she would say. Who could resist such sweet talk? As for my sister–she was the dusting queen. To this day, the only thing I feel successful at is scrubbing bathrooms; I still don’t dust. Thankfully, my husband’s mother brainwashed him that he was the best at it, (like my sister) so he does it! I guess it was a secret among mothers to get us to perform with false compliments. Genius–I’ll have to see if it still works on my own kids.
Though I am really decent at keeping things organized, and the kitchen and bathrooms are usually clean, the rest of domesticity is fairly illusive to me. When you think of housekeeping, it’s all cooking and gardens and laundry. Yeah, about that … not so much.
It isn’t that I mind cooking necessarily, I just find spending so much time on prep and clean up a waste of time. I’ve got a whole lot of food allergies, so maybe it is unfair of me (in my somewhat limited palate) but there are just so many other ways I’d like to spend my time than messing with a recipe I’ll need to change anyway. I’m a lot like Rita Rudner who said, “I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and say to myself “well, that’s not going to happen!” Thank God my family isn’t very picky … not that they ever really had a choice. I can make a host of meals, but only three really well … pancakes and eggs, buttered noodles and parmesan and chicken cordon blue. I know right! That last one surprised you! I usually save that meal for company, so my husband is all about having friends over for dinner.
If it can be said that I’m lackluster at cooking, I’m even more dull when it comes to gardening. Scratch that … I’m like the Grim Reaper of plants. My mom, on the other hand, is like Mother Nature incarnate. When I was growing up it was not uncommon to find her outside with a fabulous tan and dirt under her fingernails, surrounded by blossoms and blooms of the most exquisite varieties. The gardens around our house were an Eden, and I had absolutely nothing to do with them. I like the idea of gardening, I just really don’t enjoy doing it–most likely because of my epic-plant-failures. I’ve been unable to keep flowering plants flowering, I’ve over-watered cacti and kept seedlings from sprouting. Someone recently said how great it is for you to get into plants when you have kids. So, I tried to do the right thing and bought all these little cups and seeds. We planted them and laid them all out, then the wind blew too hard and the dog ate the compost-friendly cups–gardening career over. According to Cicero, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” According to me … skip the garden.
Well, believe it or not, I saved the worst for last. Because I am absolutely, hopelessly horrible at laundry. I shouldn’t be. Again, I’ve had good genes in this domestic staple. My grandmother (now ninety-two) has been hanging clothes on the line, sewing impossible holes and folding with the efficiency of a professional for as long as I can remember. Born from a genius like that, my mother picked up in natural succession. Able to get out any stain, keep whites their whitest and colors bold, I was lucky to have this lineage. Sadly, it did nothing for me. You see, my mom and grandmother did my laundry for me through college. Yes–hate me if you want to … I wouldn’t change it for the world! Now, a mother of two, married with messes abounding, I’ve gotten my dose of Karma, and laundry really is as awful as I thought it would be for the following reasons:
1. I over-stuff the washer.
2. The dryer needs to run at least three times to really dry things.
3. I wash, fold, and never have time to put it all away.
4. I leave things in the dryer until they’re impossibly crushed to the point of needing to re-wash them.
5. I’ve convinced my husband that I have a vendetta against him by apparently never having his underwear clean. (He actually just went out and bought more.)
6. I cannot, for the life of me, keep socks with their pair. (I even have a sign in my laundry room that says, “Single sock looking for adorable mate.”) The saddest thing is, I donated a huge box of lost socks to my son’s school for puppets, and now, that box is filled again.
So … I admit it. I am a failure. I spend my time teaching, writing and reading. I once tried to join a book club only to discover that all the women did was talk about cooking and gardening. After two books that we “didn’t get around to discussing,” I was done with that disaster! I share all of this with you to prove no one has it all together. If they do … they’re most-likely faking it, or lying to your face. There just isn’t time in a day to do it all, so we might as well try to do what we love well instead.
The thing is, I really am okay with my lack of June Cleaver-ness. My husband will never walk in to see me in pearls while vacuuming. My kids will most-likely never have a fresh plate of cookies and milk when they get home from school (I’m allergic to wheat). My mother will never stop blaming herself for the fault of my inability to be a good laundress, but it is okay. I have forgiven myself, because although I’m a bit of a lemon … I’m fairly good at making lemonade. And in this life, turning something sour sweet, seems like a good trait to have.