Stepford Misstep

by | Feb 22, 2011 | Uncategorized | 10 comments

Lately, if you were to drop in to my place unannounced, you might notice a few changes.

I’ve decided to let a few things go. Primarily, the housework. Not entirely, of course. I am still washing clothes and cleaning toilets. I cook and I pack up toys.

So actually, maybe nothing much has changed on the surface. I am cleaning as much as I always did which is to say, sporadically at best.

The real change is that I’m trying to let it go psychologically.

I have come to see that the pressures of being the perfect housewife have had me trapped in a downward spiral of loathing.

In order to hang out with my kids occasionally, write this blog and go to the gym, I simply can not keep an immaculate home.

And even more importantly, I have finally admitted to myself – I DON’T WANT TO. My dream has never been to be the perfect housewife. That is not a role I ever aspired to. What motivated me to try and be that woman though is the crushing weight of the perfectionist within me. I have long harboured the misguided belief that I should be able to keep all those balls in the air. I don't actually want to be a super-housewife but I certainly want to give the illusion that I am.

My actual dreams, my real aspirations – to be a present mum, to write, to be fit and healthy – these are demanding all on their own without adding “Keep house in manner of display home” to the list.

So I am trying, with varying degrees of success, to let the idea of keeping a perfect home go.

Some days, the gritty floor beneath my feet makes me cringe. And it’s true that I feel mentally lighter when the house is freshly cleaned. But my old mantra, that in order to be creative I must remove all clutter, has revealed itself to be completely unworkable in my current life.

Even when I am on top of the cleaning game (for those whole, what, five minutes before someone fucks it up?), the house is never truly up to my exacting standards. And in order to keep the home in such a way, I could not possibly find time to write this blog or go to the gym.

And beyond that, I have never wanted to clean 24/7 which means that I've been failing on all counts. Spotless home? No. Blog Updated? No.

So there I was suspended in that downward spiral of loathing. Wasting time and energy trying and failing to live up to a role I never coveted in the first place and meanwhile, the things I really value are neglected.

No matter how hard I try, I can never make this house look perfect. The satisfaction of a sparkling home is fleeting at best before life intervenes in the way of crumbs and kids and just general living. But if I put similar energy into working out, writing and my kids, the rewards are richer than I could ever dream.

So it’s about personal priorities. I have friends who have embraced the role of housewife wholeheartedly. Their commitment to this has me in awe. They are not only very good at it but derive much pleasure in doing it. To me, this is key. I was destined to fail when I attempted to mirror them in this pursuit. It was never a passion for me so much as an expectation that I heaped upon my already loaded shoulders. I admire the dedication and singular focus needed to be a great housewife. But I can see how my energies are better spent elsewhere.

At the end of my life, I expect there to be any number of things by which that life may be measured. It occurs to me now, the kind of home I kept is not one of those things.

I hope people might think of the kind of mum I was. Perhaps talk about the books I wrote or that right until the end, I was happy and healthy.

And how I always gave my cleaner a huge Christmas bonus.

So if you do drop around, avert your eyes from the pubes on the bathroom floor and come, see what I’ve been writing lately.

Actually, would you mind calling first? I fucking hate drop-ins!

Hello friends


I’m Angie!  I mum. I write. I wife. My husband would say this is the correct order.  He’s so neeeedy. I live with my family in Melbourne, Australia, where I complain about the weather for 90% of the year – but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Except maybe in Lake Como, waving to my neighbours George and Amal each morning.

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    How fricken funny!! I was planning on writing a similar post titled “Making peace with the dust (and occasional petrified noodle)”

    Right there with ya girl! I love how you put it all in perspective.

    Viva le petrified noodle!

  2. Jane

    Love it …… as usual =)
    Angie I agree wholeheartedly with you , I tried that gig when Luke was little, everything was so out of control with him I felt like having the perfect picture of order at home was some control. I too want to be remembered for things I did, things that I am passionate about and let me tell you, housework is not one of them.
    Oh and I wont be calling … i love a drop in =)

  3. Rae

    Ahahaha – i fucking HATE drop-ins too! But yeah yet again, you are soooooo right.

    The control freak in me loves a tidy, organised home. I can’t function unless it’s clean. In some way i feel it’s a refection of me. I’m no longer the teacher i studied long and hard at uni for, for 4 yrs – but now ‘just’ a SAHM. So after slogging it out for other people’s children for those years i can’t justify with being anything but perfect with my own. And to me a SAHM somehow means i’m well-rounded, i can miraculously do it all. Cook, clean, spend lots of quality time (both fun and educational) with my 3 bebes, and most importantly maintain a loving relationship with my man. But it IS exhausting.

    So you are completely right. I need to prioritize. And above anything my relationship with my hubby comes first since he is who i’ll be spending the rest of my life with and the example of ‘relationships’ i’ll be setting to my children, then of course my 3 kiddies. And thankfully he doesn’t give a rats arse if the floors have been done or the toilets have been scrubbed daily. If i manage to fit anything else in like housework or exercise – well that’s just a bonus to me.

    So thank you for making me feel it’s ok to spend the night on the internet, watching trashy Next Top Model and drooling over Bill and Eric while drinking a bottle of wine. Housework…what housework???

  4. Melissa

    Oh boy – we are even more alike than I realised.

    I’ve just blown off the housework officially after years of guilt. I do what has to be done but I literally don’t care anymore unless the place really is a mess.

    It is like painting the Harbour Bridge when the kids are small – we all know this. I just realise now there are better uses of my time than cleaning.

    I had the epiphany when I saw an elderly Italian lady scrubbing her front steps with a toothbrush. I was never in danger of going that far but it makes you think. You only get one life and I don’t want to be remembered solely for my house cleaning abilities.

  5. MJ

    Let’s start a revolution: the housework-is-overrated-and-sucks movement.

    I’ve never been diligent with it. At least when I was working, I figured I had a good excuse. I have no excuse now.

    I know what you mean about wanting to give the illusion of great housekeeping, though, despite not actually aspiring to (or enjoying) domestic goddess-icity. I do that too, and have no idea why. Big panic cleans when I know visitors are coming… well, at least the kitchen and bathrooms. The advantage to living in a shoe box these days is it’s easier to keep on top of things in general.

    Fuck, I’m lazy. I don’t even have the excuse of going to the gym. Wish I was as motivated as you in that department!

  6. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Petrified noodle! Ha! I love it.

    Allowing my 14 month old to feed himself means there are any number of ‘petrified’ foodstuffs on my floor.

    No longer wanna feel defeated by an unwinnable game!

    Thanks for reading.

  7. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    I can understand wanting some sense of control at that point. Housework would have seemed quite manageable by comparison, I am sure.

    For YOU, I will make an exception to my ‘no drop-ins’ rule. xxx

  8. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Rae, you know you are my role model in all things domestic. You are so dedicated to your role and I admire it hugely.

    But in saying that, I have loved reading this and discovering that you are cutting yourself some slack, too. Because even 100% commitment to the perfect home is not enough to guarantee perfection, is it? There is no such thing.

    I think your priorities are spot on. One just has to look at your kids to see that the balance is right on.

    New season of True Blood – when??? I am dying.

  9. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Painting the Harbour Bridge? Well, that’s it right there, isn’t it?

    B worked with a woman who got up every morning at 5am to clean her kitchen floor with a scrubbing brush. For the most part, I thought it was craziness. But some part of me internalised that information with a fresh slice of guilt. Stoopid.

  10. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Illusions. That’s what it all comes down to.

    It’s like saying “I have no desire to play cricket” and then berating myself for not being able to play.

    Panic cleans are my specialty. And then fret about the skirting boards.

    And yet, if I were to come to your house, I wouldn’t even know if you HAD skirting boards. I never hold others to my ridiculous standards….except my mum. Poor Mum. For some reason, I am tough on her, too. She curses me.


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