Spring cleaning is a strange beast. Wednesday night, as I stood on a ladder outside my house, cleaning our windows after an already busy day, I heard my Grandma in my head. My mom always told her how she was taught that clean windows are essential to a good, clean house. PS-I need grandma’s secret, because everything I cleaned looks less dirty but streaky as hell. Anyway, it got me to thinking about where having a spotless house ranks in my life vs where it ranked two generations prior.
It amazes me to think how roles have changed over the last two generations. My grandma was a farm wife. She spent most of her adult life helping farm, keeping a clean house, doing odd jobs for the ladies in her small town, and probably a billion other things I can’t remember because I wasn’t there. She saved every cool whip container she used, told me microwaves would fry my brain if I stood too close, and always “hid” the candy in the same spot. And that woman kept the cleanest house I can remember. I bet every time she came home, there was a little swell of pride at the home she’d made-and rightly so.
Jeff and I were just talking about this the other day. People used to take pride in their work, in their homes, in simply being good people. Now, pride comes from their children, their jobs, the things they own. Dirty home? I was too busy living my life to clean it. Something breaks? It’s cheaper to just buy a new one! Things have become disposable, and with that we’ve seen a slow attitude shift from “I hope people see that work I did” to “I hope they don’t notice what I didn’t do”. For good reason-we’re busier now than ever before. Jeff always calls me “one more thing” because I’m trying to do the little things around the house in the seconds between when we’re both ready to leave the house. Women have gone from having the home as our primary “job”, to still having it as our domain but having to fit it in between a million other things. I get home, and I see the chores to do: dishes in the sink, dog hair tumbleweed strolling across the floor, dust where that wine bottle in our bar used to be (RIP Pinot, you were delicious). Jeff gets home, takes off his motorcycle helmet, drops his stuff on the dining room table, and glances right across the pile of beer bottles he’s left on the counter (he cleans them and then refills them with his current passion, home brewed beer). It doesn’t seem to occur to a guy the way it does to a lady that if you dirty a dish, put it in the washer. If you remove a helmet/article of clothing/towel, put it in the laundry or in its place.
This isn’t to say I don’t mind being the one who makes our floors sparkle and shine, the windows a crystal clear, and the surfaces clean and free of dust. I’m actually getting a better sense of the simple pride that comes from a nice yard, a clean home, basic cooking skills. And I enjoy it. We are filling in our first raised garden bed this weekend. We’re canning our homemade pickles and numerous other things this year. I’m learning the benefits of a well maintained home and how that translates to your well being. That isn’t to say I’m not writing this blog on a Friday night instead of cleaning house like I’d intended. But I think that my generation is in a bit of a unique position. We’re seeing both sides-grandparents who were homemakers, parents who were really the first wave of women raised knowing they’d be expected to have a career of their own. We’re torn between having the basic pride in our home and being so exhausted from the multiple hats we wear that we make certain concessions.
I’m writing this on a Friday night at home alone-Jeff’s off working a catering gig for a sorority, poor guy. And it’s the night before my birthday. I’ll officially be “late 30’s” in about 4 hours. When I started hitting my late 20’s, I freaked. I started tallying where I was vs where I thought I’d be at that stage. I made some pretty radical changes-broke up with a 6 year relationship, bought the first home I’d picked for myself, by myself. And it’s kind of ironic that as I type this, a 28 year old single girl with a dog bought the house next door and has started moving in. She’s me 7 years ago. When I compare the girl who bought this house vs the one who lives here now, I’m amazed. So, what does the next year of my life hold?
I hope for myself that I become more comfortable in my own skin. I hope that I realize that a difference of 5 pounds plus or minus does not change the fundamentals of who I am as a person. I hope that I start living my life with a bit more integrity than I’ve carried in the years past. That I am a good wife. A woman with a balance between work and home. Between the nerdy, introverted tech support I am paid to be and the joke cracking jock I’ve turned into. That I realize that some things aren’t in my wheelhouse-and that’s OK. I hope I realize that nobody is watching my life with a fine tooth comb more than I do-and that it’s not necessary. That tomorrow is always a chance to do better, do more, do SOMETHING. Ask yourself when the last time you did something for the first time was. Ask yourself if the thing you’re worrying about is so serious it will go down on your tombstone (Here lies Laura, she maintained a healthy weight? Doubtful. Here lies Laura, she was a friend to those who knew her? Infinitely better.). We’ve got a busy weekend planned, and I plan to check in after and let the 4 of you who read this know what we did. So far it involves what I’m now calling “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes”-massage, lunch, mani/pedi. And holy crap do I need all of that. Lets face it-I’m permanently hangry, my shoulders have knotted up so hard over the last 3 months that it’s hard to move my head, and my toes are a hot mess not worthy of the sandals begging to be worn now that it’s warm enough.
Happy Pi day, those of you who aren’t me!