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!