The Wisdom of Keeping one’s House Clean (Enough) with KidsSeptember 26, 2016 • By Caro • 23 • 2 • 1865
Repeat after me: “Have kids, they said!” Use a sarcastic tone. It’s got to be told with the most ironic voice. It’s just got to be. Unless of course you’re trying to BS someone. In that case, if you want to You-should-have-kids! a friend (but regarding what you’re about to do, your friendship is officially in peril) then a cheerful tone is expected. Don’t knowingly smile. Don’t mock. In a word, play up the innocent, you sarcastic evil. I must warn you though, it won’t work with your siblings or closest friends; they’ve seen you in action with your own adorable brats (talking about my own; maybe yours aren’t that terrible).
Nobody knows who they are. It’s like one of those urban legends passed on from one generation to the next. But whoever they originally were, they knew! They totally knew in what deep Beep! you’d soon find yourself.
Like most women, I fell for it. Stupid me. Oh, I didn’t fall half way around, I fell a good four times with nothing to break my fall. Well, technically, it was three times; I had an unexpected double-up (a.k.a. double trouble) on the third. And that’s when I realized (too late) that enough was (indeed) enough. I must be a tad stubborn or a slow-learner, I don’t know. Probably both.
My little conviction now is that They are our own parents. Payback.
When I was young(er) and guileless, “Have kids” had the following implicit messages: it’ll be fun, it’ll be rewarding, it’ll be blossoming. Wrong. Wrong. And wrong again. It’ll be fulfilling, I’ll give you that, very fulfilling, only not in the way that you had imagined. Domestic terrorism, that’s what it’ll be! Having kids 24/7 (in other words, not babysitting some neighbor’s kid for a one-and-half-hour sunny afternoon walk in the park, spoiled with cotton candy and Rick Charette’s greatest hits) uses you up completely. It’s an ode for the indisposed bed. It’s a restless body riddance. It’s being thisclose to self-medicating an energy suppository by inserting a Duracell Bunny battery into your rectum. So, no, it’s no easy thing. My advice? Bake pancakes instead.
Some say that raising children full-time is the most beautiful job in the world. Ho-hum, I nod. “I hear you compleeeetely,” I say with an unsubtle knowing wink. Oh, wait, what … You were serious!? Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND!? I’m not falling for that one. Enough already. (If you yourself are a stay-at-home mom, let me just say that you have my deepest respect, my dumbfounded admiration, and my really good shrink is yours whenever you’re ready.) My cherubs have already been leading me on for respectively twelve, nine and six (and six) years. I’m surprised I survived this long. I’m surprised they did too, considering. So, yeah, I love my job, especially the peacefulness of my kids-free zone they call an office. I would trade it for my brats. Every day. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, I love them as if they were my own children. But let’s be honest, I’m no Supermom.
The major problem with children (besides having children) is the house.
The house. Let’s have a moment of silence for the house before children. Because you sure can’t have one after. I haven’t (quite) reached the total chaos (yet) that Heath Robbins illustrated so perfectly, but most of the time, my house does seem to be ready to apply for the next episode of Extreme Makeover: Tornado Edition.
You can’t put a foot to the floor without stepping on one of your rug rats’ outrageously numerous toys (beware all ye who enter there barefoot: Lego pieces have been not-so-intelligently designed to fit the sole of your foot by Satan himself), dirty laundry is erupting out of the baskets, even without the pieces of clothing that have been negligently dropped on bathrooms floors or lost forever underneath beds (resting in peace with dust bunnies), filthy dishes are still on the table from last night’s dinner, dirty hand stains decorate the white walls of your living room (in some cases highlighting your offspring’s talented hand-painting skills) and your kids are loudly playing (scratch that — fighting) as we speak: running, skating and riding bikes in the living room like it was a damn McDonalds’ Play Place … You have to admit it’s impossibly hard to tell the difference but see these plates over there? They’re yours, not Happy Meal boxes. This is your house.
What makes this even more tragic is when you recall your last visit at your childless friends’ houses when they said, “Don’t look around, the house’s a mess. I just didn’t have the time to tidy it after I came back from my yoga class.”
Yeah, I would totally comb that carpet too, it freaks me out. Enormously. Too bad you don’t have a little princess who would just love to do it for you. Oh, how I can’t wait for you to “Have kids!” (I say), your life will be sooo fulfilled (comma, bitch, full stop). Uh, it’s no wonder we don’t invite friends over anymore. Our standards of cleanliness and tidiness have lowered to this: as long as there’s not an open package of flour spilt all over the couch, ignore all evidence to the contrary and assume it’s good to sit.
But now, tell me, I’ve been wondering, and maybe you’ve been in this situation before.
Question: Your house is a total mess (refer again to the above description and/or picture — the first one, don’t get misled here). You:
A) Nicely and calmly bid your kids to go read a book on their beds while you take over; gather all their toys and tidy their rooms (of course, toys all sorted in their own boxes); clean the bathrooms, kitchen, and everything else because after all you are their mother and that’s what society expects you to do.
B) Give up, because it’s easier and — what the hell? — you’re doomed: as soon as the house is clean, you’ll have to start all over again within the next two days, because after all they are children. How bad can it really get?
C) Set the house on fire, sell the kids on eBay and start over. At the stage you have reached, the simplest is the most effective.
D) Find their weakness: take their Nintendos, iPads, PSP, Xbox, TV and other screens and video games as leverage and let them be at your mercy. Have them “Sir, yes, sir!” you and vacuum while you sit back sipping a glass of Pinot Noir.
E) I’m sorry? Don’t I have a husband who can help me and offer another answer maybe? Oh yeah, I have one of those, I’m taking his phone, too.
That was tricky, I know; I myself hesitated a little between C and D. Nevertheless, if you picked answer C, before you decide this is your final answer, let me remind you that you can still phone a friend, and my offer for my shrink’s number still stands. Because, no, however tempting answer C might be, however desperate you are for a change, it has to be a D here. If not for the house, let it be for the Pinot. That was my undoing actually. Kids, you gotta love ‘em … and have wine to save you a world of trouble.
“Have kids, they said!” sounds so ironic, sarcastic and/or defeated that you have to wonder how many glasses of Pinot They had to drown their sorrows in. It must have been a few bottles. And to think some others say “Water it down!” I’ll give you another saying: “Stupidity is the deliberate cultivation of ignorance.” William Gaddis.
(Photo by Heath Robbins)