Thursday, December 22, 2005

All things in moderation

A reader who saw my post on housework felt I was mocking her for paying someone to help her with scheduling, and stated her support for domesticity in general and Martha Stewart in particular. No offense, everyone -- we're all in this together! Let's all give ourselves a hand for doing at least two full-time jobs (parenting and running a household), in addition to whatever else we may occupy our copious free time with. Remember, it's WICKED HAHD.

What I was trying to say was that, while maintaining some level of domestic cleanliness and order is important, we shouldn’t have to feel insecure because our homes aren’t as perfect as they could be, and we shouldn’t tie too much of our feelings of self-worth to how "nice" we’re able to keep our homes. And I do believe that a lot of these domestic-life-organization folks -- perhaps unintentionally, I admit -- play on our fears of inadequacy to sell their products. I was just trying to wring a little humor from the absurb lengths to which it’s possible to go in pursuit of domestic perfection. I too like cleanliness and order, and I actually enjoy doing some forms of housework (though NOT the litterbox). God knows there’s plenty of room for improvement, but I’ve chosen not to feel guilty about this. As parents, I think most of us have enough to feel guilty about as it is (and if anyone wants to start that discussion, go for it -- I'll join in).

Obviously a lot of one’s attitude on this issue depends on how you were raised. My mother was, in my opinion, overly concerned about two things -- germs and social appearances. I guess I’ve swung a bit more toward the middle, meaning I do care about what other people think and I don’t like slime and piles of crap everywhere in my house, but my tolerances are slightly higher than hers and I don’t generate as much stomach acid over these issues as she did. But I don't judge anyone for being "too neat" any more than I do for someone who's "too messy." It's all a matter of individual comfort level, but I think that has to come from oneself and not someone else's standards that are, more often than not, impossible to match. I just hope that at my funeral, I hope my kids, husband, friends and colleagues don’t say stuff like, "GOD we miss her! Remember what a wonderfully neat and clean house she kept? Even in her last days, she ran her In-Sink-Erator every day with lemon peel so her sink didn't smell funny. No matter how busy she was with family and work, she always found time to vacuum... what a trouper! And now [*sob*] the dust has won!"

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