Saturday, April 3, 2010

me the maid.

I've starting thinking of myself as a maid. I read this book--The Help, set in 1960s Jackson Mississippi and told through the eyes of white women and the black women who kept their homes (a very nicely done novel, btw)--and I started thinking about the work of 'keeping a home.' Of managing laundry and clutter and nurishment for the sake of other people (and yourself...). Funny thing is--I suddenly found myself enjoying housework. The laundry. The dishes. Straightening up. Picking up toys. Cleaning out closets and cabinets. Ironing. Really. You should see how straight the linen closet is. If I keep this up even the attic is going to look like a retail store.

I think the difference is that I usually hurry through housework so I can be done, get on with the next (and more important) thing, which makes it a frustrating and anxious experience. But if it's my work, if this is what I'm supposed to be doing, then there's no hurry, and there's nothing to get on with afterwards. It's all a matter of perspective. (but isn't it always?) If I don't get around to finishing everything today, well, I'm still the maid tomorrow and can get to it then.

Of course, I'm not always the maid. With the kids so little, many days I simply don't have time to do much of anything but fix the food and clean up the kitchen. (and change diapers and referee and kiss boo-boos and supervise sidewalk tricycle riding and play my tambourine in the marching band.) Some days I want to be the maid but can't get around to it. I've comically found myself daydreaming about the day the kids are both in school and I have time to organize the house without interruption.

It's possible this is only a phase and before long I'll go back to thinking of ironing Mitch's shirts as drudgery.

The larger issue it's raised is my job title, and the difference between being a housewife (which no one is any more) and a stay-at-home-mom (which I think of myself currently). I've written a couple of failed (and unpublished) posts about this already... and right now don't have the time to start another. But these thoughts are forthcoming. Stay tuned.


Kristina said...

Thank you for sharing this perspective, Cali. So insightful. I will try to adopt it for my household duties. It is my "work." I don't have to like it, but I can still take pride in it ;) and not rush though it. You are right - my job will still be there tomorrow! Quite liberating, actually!

Paige said...

I don't mind it for the most part. I only clean the house once a month, and the rest of the time I just do what's necessary - dishes, laundry, dinner, sweeping. Although nothing ruins my morning more than coming up to a sink full of dirty dishes.

But I guess I don't think of it as being a maid at all - I def think of it as my job. When Mike and I both worked, we both kept up with the housework (or not) and cooked together. Now that he has to leave the house every day and I'm here (or not!), I feel like most of that stuff does and should fall on my shoulders. If he has energy after work, I want him to play with the kids (for their sake as well as mine!). I mean, I know I work too - raising kids is certainly work! - but it's work I do AT home, so it seems perfectly reasonable to me that I keep the home clean while I'm here.

And Mike does important household things like plunging the stopped up toilet, escorting spiders out of the house, and cleaning the tub (one of the few chores I absolutely hate to do).

Sarah Scafidi McGuire said...

Hi. We don't know each other but I really like your blog. I linked to it from Bread, God, Buddha. I live in upstate NY too, in Canton. Anyway, I love the idea of being a maid. It makes me feel like I can slack off and/or get housework done at a relaxed pace and know that there is always tomorrow. I guess it helps to distance myself from my housework. It is my job, but it is not me.

Cali said...

Yes! It does feel liberating to me, Kristina. What a wonderful thing.

And Sarah--I think you're right; it's because if I'm the maid, then it's my 'job' and not me. Nicely put. And welcome!! Thanks for reading.

Paige--It's interesting to me that you think of it as your job but you don't want to think of yourself as the maid. I wonder if this is because "maid" has such negative connotations these days. You know, waiting on someone else... Maybe janitor, or custodian would work better? For whatever reason, putting a name to this job has made me feel much more relaxed about my work, which is great!

Anonymous said...

Now you just need the right outfit!