One of my best friends actually had to start taking Zoloft to reduce her housecleaning anxiety. She’s my soulmate. In recent months, I’ve started vacuuming the floor twice a day.
You have no idea how close I am to vacuuming up our entire home… furniture, toys and pets.
Just now, I’m thinking there’s maybe a cat or two in there.
Why do I vacuum?
Because my kids are big and don’t need me running after them. And I have a surfeit of energy and a gaping maw of free time waiting to be filled with… something meaningful.
Those ladies in the Swiffer Sweeper commercials look so fulfilled when they’ve made their wood floors nice and shiny. I think making unsightly dust and pet hair disappear must count as meaningful, right?
Not in this lifetime?
What about solving every case on 48 Hours before the first commercial break?
At this moment, the movie of my life is like Adventures in Babysitting (remember that one, eighties people?) but with a mom twist… Adventures in Housekeeping. And it would go straight to Netflix. Where nobody would order it. Ever.
Yes, yes… it’s been beautiful these past fourteen years. I’ve collected a full portfolio of misty, water-colored memories in which I’m molding Play-Doh and reading Harry Potter while wishing I could also squeeze in a short jog, or a long nap, or a solo trip to the toilet.
Although I truly love and treasure every moment with my precious darlings, I’ve sometimes wished… for my own selfish reasons… that Disney Channel would make its actors deliver their lines in Pig Latin like those kids on ZOOM, Lord Voldemort could switch places with the Cat in the Hat, and the people at Harris Teeter would let me buy groceries with ziploc bags filled with broken crayons.
If you’ve similarly spent the stretch between 1999 and 2013 playing on the floor… you’ll know exactly what I mean.
But as my children have grown, and my parenting has been replaced with (ugh) housecleaning, I’ve come to the realization it’s clearly time to move along. And with the arrival of the New Year… I received news I might have a New Job. One of those fantastical, mythological professions known as… working outside the home.
And this, of course, led to a long discourse from my husband. This is not unusual. Even the the refrigerator door leads to discourses. (Don’t ask.)
Specifically, I mentioned this job would make it harder to plan vacations. And before you say anything… I absolutely understand how bitchy and entitled it sounds to get a new job and primarily worry about vacation planning.
Anyhow… my husband assured me he has a deep and profound understanding of daily job requirements… including, but not limited to, the concept of vacation days.
He’s a breadwinner. They’re schooled in these things.
So I did what anyone would do. I got completely irritated.
Because he missed my point.
My point was not that he doesn’t understand vacation days… it’s that he doesn’t understand them in relation to me.
The last time I had to check with a boss before taking a day off… O.J. Simpson was still “looking for the real killers,” air travel was enjoyable, and Kim Kardashian was possibly a virgin.
Let’s look at that from another angle: I have been a housewife for a length of time roughly equivalent to my own childhood. And as a kid, I frequently dreamed that something… anything… exciting would happen.
So… can I say it? Not much has changed. Still dreaming. Only this time it’s about a desk and a salary and a company laptop.
Which is why I’d gladly explain the philosophy behind coffee breaks and water coolers… in addition to vacation days. I’m that desperate for conversation about any new job opportunity that slinks across my horizon.
At this point, if we could choose between a week on a tropical island or an extra hundred dollars a month? The hundred wins. Hands down.
Believe me. The only way we’d choose the island is if the palm trees were dropping cash instead of coconuts.
Actually, I’d work for free. In fact, I quite frequently do. So the thought I might sucker someone into paying me to do something that requires more mental agility than wielding a vacuum cleaner makes me romp and frolic and dance with cartoonish glee.
I once was positively thrilled to make stuffed bears talk and solve wooden puzzles. Sometimes I still am. But those times are growing fewer and farther between.
So it’s probably time to evolve into something new while I can still think clearly… before I give the vacuum cleaner a name and throw a diaper on the cat.