Domestically Disabled

The woman exclaimed, “This mind-numbing routine of cooking, cleaning, driving… around, and grocery shopping is slowly killing me. “

These words were recently posted on Facebook by:

  1. A stay-at-home mom
  2. A working-outside-the-home mom
  3. A dad
  4. All of the above
  5. None of the above

While any choice could be valid, “E” is the correct answer.

The statement was made by my college-age daughter after taking care of her three younger siblings for one week. LOL.  I have had the same sentiment numerous times over the last 20 years, although my silent refrain more often went, “I am going to be @#$%ing brain-dead soon!” After reading her declaration, I wasn’t sure if I should smile in smug satisfaction or be very worried.

The experience of being “mom” for a week was certainly a good deterrent against early parenthood, not that she was inclined in that direction. While the reason for putting her in charge wasn’t to “teach a lesson,” I didn’t mind the side benefit. It was a good contrast to the romantic People magazine cover that implies a cute cuddly baby is a fashion accessory with minimal lifestyle impact.

I love my children and really enjoy their company and activities, but I admit I have always struggled to find the joy in the domestic side of my parenting duties.  My husband  finds much greater satisfaction in completing his household chores or at least has a better attitude toward them.  Nothing wrong with taking a little pride in a clean garage, a well-prepared meal and a 100% on-time-arrival rating to events, but I just can’t seem to get myself to household zen.

I don’t just dislike household duties a little, I abhor them a lot. I have tried to trick myself with various games and reward strategies over the years. “Hey Carol,” I say to myself, “if you get all the laundry done, walk the dog and grocery shop by noon on Saturday you can do something fun!” Alas, Carol doesn’t care, she is a lolly-gagging, bad-attitude procrastinator when it comes to housework.

Sure, I like things neat and tidy, but I’m not that motivated.  I am definitely The Odd Couple  “Oscar” in our relationship. I always think of the vintage humor refrain from Anne Taintor, “Someone has to set a bad example.” 

I will continue to minimize my time spent on routine chores, without guilt, while maintaining a socially acceptable low bar. I know my kids’ well-being is not based on the quality of lunches prepared or the number of fur balls on the floor. Even if daughter, like mother, never embraces her inner-Martha Stewart, I hope that she can tolerate a little mind-numbness. Yes, there will always be some “daily grind,” but family life is so much more than domestic drudgery. It is full of precious moments, heartfelt joy and deep satisfaction. I can’t imagine ever thinking it wasn’t worth it.

Carol Lewis Gullstad

September 4, 2012

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