Thursday, April 30, 2015

I'm So Not June Cleaver

I might have to concede that I am hopeless when it comes to housewifery. 

I was taught by the best. My mother is a terrific cook, keeps a clean home, decorates seasonally, and never leaves the house without looking put together. When I was growing up, she did all this as a single mother and successful banking executive. She still had time, skill, and energy left over to have a thriving social life. Her parties are legendary. 
She set a fantastic example for me.

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It just didn't take with me, though. I have no idea why. I'm smart. I had a great teacher. I was given every opportunity--until that day in high school when my mama returned from work to find the kitchen a complete disaster.  Something in her broke, and she banished me from her kitchen, telling me that my best hope was to marry a chef. (How right she was!)  The only thing I seemed to have picked up from her was my knack for putting together a shindig.  I do know how to throw it down for an occasion.

photo credit: Tupperware

An illustration: When I was a young stay-at-home mom, my Personal Chef came in from his work one evening to hear me shrieking at a toddler Thing 1, "Stop helping me!  Just stop it!" He took the beautiful, wee imp in his arms in a hug, and over her shoulder looked at me and deadpanned, "I knew you weren't a great housekeeper when I married you. Go ahead. Get a job."

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So, I did.  I returned to working in child care, bringing Thing 1 and Thing 2 with me. I never looked back.

For over twenty years, I have barely managed to keep the laundry done, the dishes clean, and the bathrooms in good enough shape to prevent an outbreak of disease.  My decorating projects are never quite complete. There are always piles of things that need to be put away somewhere else. Dust mocks me on every flat surface of my home. I am ashamed to look you in the eye and talk about the dog hair that rolls across my floors like big, fluffy tumbleweeds. And truth be told, if I hadn't married a chef, the kids would have ended up surviving on cereal, cold cuts, pasta and cookies. Until VERY recently, mealtimes always crept up on me like a surprise.  (What?!  It's time to feed these people again?!)

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I've been out of work for over six months now. So, I've tried making a comeback at this homemaker business. I got off to a fantastic start. In a frantic two-day whirlwind--preparing for an out-of-town house guest--I hung the pictures that had languished in boxes for YEARS, finished painting the woodwork in the living-room, hung actual drapes, artfully filled my bookcases, and replaced the decorative throw pillows.  With that success propelling me forward, I moved into my kitchen. There, I've discovered the pleasure that other folks have long found in preparing a good meal.

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That's about as far as I've gotten, though. My bedroom makeover has been unfinished for so long that it is now time to re-redo it. I found Christmas, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter decor all co-habitating in my dining room. (Most of which I would not even own if my wonderful mother hadn't thoughtfully gifted me the pieces over the years.) Because I'm home to create them, there are even MORE piles of things that need to be put away somewhere else. The dust still mocks me. The dog fur tumbleweeds still roll by.

Just this morning, as I went to wash the pan from last night's dinner--which My Personal Chef prepared, I should note--I was thoroughly doused by the kitchen hose that has been broken for as long as we have lived in this house. (Yes, ANOTHER thing that is only a surprise to me. I get it.)  Then, my inner Heloise kicked in.  I took off my soaked sweater, and used it to mop the floor. Brilliant, right?! I might get this housewife thing down after all.

photo credit Pinterest

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