Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Other duties as required

After Oliver went to bed tonight (by very sweetly rolling to his side, closing his eyes and falling asleep without any fuss), my husband and I were both bitten by a housekeeping bug and set to work cleaning out closets, pulling up weeds and scrubbing toilets. The house is now somewhat improved but there is still a fair amount of work to do to get it up to Heloise standards.

One of my big concerns in getting ready for Ollie's birth was getting the house spick and span, nesting I suppose.  Since then, despite lofty aspirations and the implementation of a rotating cleaning schedule (that sits on my desktop laughing at me everytime I open my computer) I haven't done so well in keeping up with the housekeeping, and I sometimes feel this as a failure as a mother.

Before Oliver was born I had a stern talk with my husband about the fact that I would be considering myself a stay-at-home mum, NOT a stay-at-home wife, and certainly not a stay-at-home maid - I wanted to preserve our status as equal where the house was concerned. And my husband agreed (and still does) - my primary job is making sure that Ollie is healthy and happy, and he can be both of those things without a freshly mopped floor.

The fact is, though, that keeping a clean and orderly house is starting to feel like part of the work in maintaining health and happiness. For one thing, I'm happier and more relaxed when the house is clean, and I do enjoy a good scrub session. For another, every day of growth and development for Oliver is a step closer to crawling on the not-yet vacuumed floor, or picking up a dropped dime and putting it in his mouth. Even the task of making nightly meals seems to be one of real importance, as even in the early stages of eating solids I want Ollie to experience food as a family activity, with my husband and I joining him at the table.

So while the idea that I should be responsible for cleaning and cooking tickles my feminist funny bone a little bit, the reality about housekeeping for me is also a terrible cliche; a clean home is one of the ways I express my love for my family. But to be clear, no one should take that to mean that when my house isn't in order, my love is dwindling, I'm probably just too busy expressing it in some other way to get around to the vacuuming.

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