Saturday, December 20, 2008

Aqua Net and Laundry

In my quest to improve myself as a Mom and a wife, I have found that I seem to unerringly revert back to those old habits - the ones I'm trying to replace with new and better habits.

For example, I hate laundry with a fervid passion. I hate every aspect of it - from the hamper, to the sorting, to the loading, to the flipping of loads - all of it - most especially the folding and putting away.


The only part that I have ever remotely enjoyed is taking warm, clean laundry out of the dryer, shoving my face into it and smelling the aroma of fabric softener. I've ruined that little joy for myself, however. I went and found out about the chemicals included in that neat little laundry additive and how they are an environmental evil that I can easily alleviate by not using fabric softener. So now, any hope that I ever had of being that MomWife who dutifully attends to the the laundering as soon as there is enough soiled clothing to justify a load was vaporized when Downy became an environmental no-no.

When we moved from Arizona to Colorado this last Spring, I decided to turn over a new leaf in my housekeeping habits. Instead of waiting until the dirty laundry could almost literally march itself to the washing machine, I promised myself that I would set aside two days per week to do laundry. After all, I'm now a Stay-at-Home Mom. That yearned-for acronym that is laden with images of ruffled aprons, perfectly prepared pot roasts, and Aqua Net. Two days per week of laundry really shouldn't be THAT hard... right?

Well, it wasn't too hard at first. For the first three months after we moved into the house, I was suffused with that New Home Nesting feeling. My imaginary ruffled apron was in place, dinner was perfectly prepared every night, and the toilets were all swished once daily. Dirty laundry never sat in a hamper for more than 24 hours, and I even began to enjoy the vinegar/essential oil combination that replaced Downy. Once all the boxes were unpacked and I could really see what that kind of uber-organization and attention to detail produces, I was proud of myself. After all, it really IS much easier to clean things when you have good cleaning habits to begin with. Doing things like stripping all the beds in order to hang the blankets outside - airing them out, I think my Great Grandmother would have called it - wasn't that big of a deal. Taking a half hour to wipe down the floor boards wasn't a big deal because I had already swept, mopped and vacuumed all the floors according to my Cleaver-like schedule. Taking half of an afternoon to bake homemade bread was fun, because I didn't have to wade through the kitchen to find the counter tops, much less all of the ingredients and tools necessary. In a nutshell, I was wallowing and reveling in my June Cleaver-ness!

Fast-forward to today.

I am seriously debating loading all the dirty laundry up and going to a laundromat. I don't know what the hell happened to my cleaning schedule, my un-dusty floorboards and the homemade bread. Once I ran out of essential oil, the thought of adding plain ol' vinegar to the laundry lost its "green" appeal. My blankets haven't been "aired out", nor my floorboards dusted, nor the bread baked since I hung up my ruffled apron, so to speak. I don't even know when that was, exactly. It sort of happened gradually. I thought I was still doing a good job at this cleaning thing, when all of a sudden, I took a good look around and - nope.

Don't get me wrong, the house is certainly not a pig sty, and it is much more organized and clean than I have ever kept a home - but my original Betty Crocker dreams of a spotless home have dissolved. The Aqua Net haze has cleared out of my post-feminist era brain and I have returned to reality.


Where laundry does pile up and even occasionally has to be hauled to a laundromat despite the presence of a working washer and dryer at home. Where dishes, too, pile up, and the left over experiment of a casserole from last night never made it into the fridge, so the cats helped themselves to the layer of cheese I piled on top of it to mask the horrendous combination of spices used therein. The kids' bathroom is allowed to get not-quite hazardous at times. I almost needed a jackhammer to remove the toothpaste from the sink this morning!

Yeah, THAT reality.

I'm trying really hard to not beat myself up over it. I'm trying to convince myself that it's perfectly normal for the household chores to get out-of-hand on occasion. I'm still gun-shy that it will get as bad as it did in Arizona. I find some solace in the fact that underneath the thin layer of mess, there is a real sense of organization that I've never had before. I can thank Aqua Net, Betty Crocker, and my imaginary ruffled apron for that.

Somehow, the braless child of a hippie inside of me, and the coiffed perfectionist also inside me, will meet somewhere in the middle rather than constantly cat-fighting. There is one thing that both extremes of my personality can and do agree on - the chores will always be there, but the kids are growing up fast - so, take every opportunity to cuddle and hug and tickle and kiss and more than anything - love. Those opportunities are gone in the wink of an eye. While June Cleaver was mending Ward's socks, Wally and The Beav grew up and moved out.

Not me. So, on that note, I'm going to ignore the buzzing of the dryer for a few more moments and go tickle my boys until they beg me to stop. Then, I'll kiss their sweaty little foreheads and hug them.

I'll catch up with you later, June.


ErikaRobin said...

I'm there with you, Mandy, waving goodbye to June until we meet again. They're only little once and the dirty dishes and laundry will wait (and multiply). Go wash the boys' hair with baby shampoo and give them a good sniff. It's better than clean laundry. :)

Rebeccalynn_dj said...

We are bonded in this issue.

Guinhyvar said...

Yup. I hear you, sweetums.

I always use the excuse... but it's the HOLIDAYS! when my house gets messy like this. I figure, from November til January second, this is the life.

My kids are home for winter break, and we're too money'less to do a whole lot other than spend time at home doing home-type stuff. The housework is going to suffer. I would rather chill with them than worry about getting my floors spotless.

This is a good one, MandyPants.

kerijeanbean said...

I am right there with you Mandy, only today I decided to tackle the laundry monster. Mostly because I have to pack stuff up, and I had some wet towels that were beginning to smell quite lovely.

So today we are washing clothes, bedding, and towels. I am on my third load in the washer. I will have a load of overly chlorinated suits and towels when we return from the pool.

The Downy evil, is that for the liquid or the sheets. I still like my dryer sheets. The static monster of a comforter last night should reinforce that one. The April freshness and I are forever linked.

Mainemusicmaker said...

It's wonderful to know I'm not "alone" in this *grin*...

Mandy, this was very well written...and it even brought a tear to my eye once or twice ~stupid female hormones~

Joye said...

Laundry sucks. Why can't we all go naked?