“Nutty with a Dash of Meat” Jeanette Levellie here with a fun story for writers and other creatives who find yourself having to choose between housework and writing…
Not all women have it. A few of us were still asleep the morning they handed out the I-love-housework gene.
“Dust bunnies are for wimps” became my motto when I discovered dust kangaroos, with families of dust joeys springing out of their pockets every few days to stir up some fun.
Because we live in the parsonage and my husband’s desk is a pulpit, I figure I should try to appear neat once or twice a year. So I give myself a major motivation to clean house by inviting guests to dinner.
The only problem with this clever plan is that I wait until the day of the party to start my cleaning mania. I race around the dining table disrobing chair backs of their sweaters and flinging them into shocked closets. The windowsills resent my removal of the dust that’s kept them warm for the last six weeks. My kitchen floor gets tipsy on Spic ‘n’ Span.
After the guests leave, I flop on the couch and moan. “Why do I torture myself like this? What possessed me to invite seventeen people over? Well, at least the house looks sparkly. Let’s keep it this way forever!” I know I am duping no one but me. It’s as realistic as stating, “I will never overreact again.”
The only time I enjoyed housework was when we were first married, and the pride of reigning as queen over my own domain spurred me to dust, mop, and scrub. That cleaning frenzy lasted two whole weeks. After that, I concocted my brilliant invite-friends-over scheme.
Once we had kids, I began worrying: What if they asked their kindergarten teacher what a dustpan was? To avoid this embarrassment, I gave them chores at very early ages. But we had to hold off when our daughter whipped a sewing kit out of her pocket and offered to mend the ripped jeans the adult helper in her preschool class was wearing.
When our kids were eight and eleven, we took them to a discount store and let them pick out their own laundry baskets. On the way home I casually said, “Guess what we’re doing today. I’m going to teach you to wash clothes.”
From the rearview mirror, I caught sight of our daughter rolling her eyes as she said, “I knew there had to be a catch!”
“Someday you’ll thank me,” I said.
As teenagers, our kids did all the cleaning except changing the sheets on our bed. It worked beautifully. Until our daughter moved to college and my son and I divided her chores between us. He got his done all right since I raised his salary two dollars a week. But mine. . . well. I always have had a fondness for baby kangaroos.
(In This Corner . . . Kangaroos from The Heart of Humor: Sixty Helpings of Hilarity to Nourish Your Soul Elk Lake Publishing, 2014, drawing by Ron Levellie)