Monday, December 03, 2007

Cleaning House

I know I've been missing in action here in blogland. The holidays are taking a lot out of me: there was all the cleaning before Thanksgiving; at work doing a lot of work ahead of time to prepare for my days off; all the work and preparation on the actual day; cleaning up afterward; visiting with relatives in from Annapolis; my daughter and I catching a cold; then continuing to clean and decorate for Christmas.

I do feel like I've been in a haze, a holiday haze: going through all the boxes in the attic, lugging down the artificial tree (I just can't justify chopping down a living tree every year, plus the expense of them) and all the lights, ornaments and other decorations. On Friday I did a commando shopping trip, bouncing from store to store like a ball in a pinball machine. Over this past weekend I've been working on the Christmas cards; I send about 50, and it involves looking up addresses, signing them all, and yesterday I had a photo shoot with Mabel and the dogs that was incredibly difficult to coordinate.

This past week I've been a woman on a mission: I got sick of my husband and I snipping at each other about our disorganized basement (that I'm still waiting on him to remodel) and decided that something had to be done. Since I'll die an old woman before he would ever organize the stuff down there, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. On Thursday evening I spent a couple of hours on it, and Saturday morning I attacked it again. Even though Hubby swears someday he's going to build more shelves and give me more storage, for now I did the best with what I had, and it looks so much better.

In addition, knowing that bad weather was on its way Saturday night and Hubby would not have any time to do it because of deer hunting, I decorated the front porch for Christmas, too. He claims he's going to put more lights up on the shrubs, etc., I didn't want the front of our house completely dark until Dec. 24th.

Finally, I got sick of asking my husband several times to clean the dog poop out of the back yard and did it myself. It must have been at least a month since this was last done, and I spent at least an hour trying to pry frozen dog turds out of the grass. Mabel helped me clean the other (non-poop) garbage/dog destruction out of the yard, and in addition to my two big buckets of fecal matter, we also amassed a garbage can and a big box full of destroyed dog toys and chewed up wooden lattice from our deck.

Even after that I still wasn't done. I kicked the dogs out of the kitchen and thoroughly cleaned it, too. By the end of the day I was exhausted. I was achy and sore and all I wanted to do was curl up in my comfy chair and watch the season finale of Torchwood. Of course, Hubby came home all full of energy and wanted to go Christmas shopping in Pittsburgh -- which is over an hour away from our home! There was no way I was leaving the house at 6 p.m. and fighting the Christmas shopping crowds after slaving in that house all day.

Lately I feel more like a maid or servant than anything else. There are so many obligations placed upon me; I find myself forced to do so much endless "grunt" work because no one else will. I seem to be inheriting the fate of my mother and her mother, taking on the brunt of all the household responsibilities because the husbands in our lives don't take on what we feel is their share.

Okay, my husband cooks dinner. That's great, and a lot of wives probably envy that. But I'm not sitting around eating bon bons while he cooks. I'm setting the table, getting out condiments, drinks, etc. I usually help carry serving bowls to the table, too, and have to run back to the kitchen because he rarely remembers to bring serving utensils. And once the meal is over, my family instantly vanishes, leaving me to clear and clean the table, put the food away, then wash the dishes, clean the stove top and counters and put everything (kitchen gadgets, spices, ingredients, etc.) back in their places. You can tell he learned to cook in restaurant kitchens and is used to having dish washers take care of everything: in a regular meal he uses several different knives, multiple pots and pans, bowls and sheet pans, then puts the finished meal in separate serving dishes. When he does actually put his tools in the sink he never rinses anything, so by the time I get there all the sauces, cheese, etc., is dried on them, or else he stacks the sink to overflowing and loads up the top item with water, which then topples over and spills all over the kitchen when I'm trying to empty it. There are times I feel like telling him not to cook dinner any more because it seems to make more work for me than if I cooked myself.

I know I sound resentful, like the stereotypical wife who feels overburdened and under appreciated by her family. I'm not writing this to martyr myself to the world, although sometimes I do feel that way, I admit. I do try to voice my needs and my desire for help, but the usual response is "I'll get to it," yet hours or days later I still wind up doing it myself.

The good thing about this past week and getting so fired up about tackling these projects is that it gets me moving and energized. I have less time to sit around and eat; instead of sitting around brewing on my emotions and thinking about binge eating, I'm working off these feelings with scrubbing, lifting and other chores.

My eating still isn't great; the holiday season has brought lots of high calorie foods into the house and they're hard to resist. But at least I'm not sitting for hours ingesting them all until I'm bloated and sick.

Again, sorry for the absence here on the blog. But rest assured, I haven't been idle. I've been thinking a lot as I vacuum, dust and organize, and I'll try to relate those revelations here as I find time.


Nicola said...

There's a men are from mars that has stuff about effective nagging in it. It's called WHy Men Don't Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes. Might be worth a look xxx

Vickie said...

this made me think of the "emptying the garbage" at our house years ago. My husband would collect all the garbage (household) baskets from around the house and set them by the back door - he would empty all of them and take the trash out - but NOT put the house baskets back where they would go. this drove me NUTS because then the kids would not know WHAT to do with their daily garbage. I finally said - you know this is less than no help - and he said - fine then I won't do it anymore. It is the best thing that ever happened. I use plastic bags that groceries come in from some stores. One of the kids goes around and lifts bags out of cans and then goes back around and puts new bags IN. I keep clean empty bags in the bottom of each basket. AND I don't worry about emptying garbage unless it is full (except for kitchen and my bathroom) because usually the garbage is paper and non-stinky from the rest of the house.

And I agree - it would be easier to trade cooking nights and have whoever cooks do ALL their own clean up.

Anne M. said...

((( hugs ))) You sound like someone who is Doing It All and while it accomplishes a lot, it takes a lot out of you at the same time. I totally admire your perseverence on the backyard and basement work and send my sympathy on the kitchen clean up. Hang in there!

Beula said...

Hi, did you get to London? I am fat and cracking up and have not caught up on blogs.

I am getting used to having the giant dog in the house. Her tail is lethal to glass ware and lamps.

The projects Mark has not yet completed are all over the house. I can't do them or I would. I do not know how to wire in a new fixture over the back door, so we live in dead dark in the garage. I cannot re-plumb the shower, so I take baths. I cannot lift the plate glass mirror and screw it to the wall so it sits in the hallway blocking the passage. I cannot dig post holes and put up fence by myself, so the dog runs around on a long rope.

Our latest go round was about the wireless phone and drilling holes in the aluminum siding for the cables. What a mess that turned out to be. I keep telling myself that if I were single I would be doing all this stuff on my own so why be resentful. As you can see by this rant I am not doing to well with this line of thinking.

We are going to have another Donny brook about his laziness. I can see it coming.

Take care.