February

19

2012

I Was Raised By Wolves

Filed under: Cleaning, Daily Life, Monday Listicles

As you probably know, I was raised by wolves, so when I was growing up we never had to clean anything. And I mean anything.

When I was 11 at summer camp I got a rude awakening when Goober, the counselor, told me to sweep the floor. After she saw me sweeping she said:

“Haven’t you ever swept a floor in your life?”

I wanted to say, “No, actually, I haven’t,” but I didn’t want to look like more of a heel than I already was.

That was my first realization that there was a huge body of information out there that most people were privy to but that I had no idea about. Especially in relation to what I still regard as The Great Mystery of Cleaning: its procedures, its products, rituals, and schedule.

I blame my mother, of course. My mom took the women’s libber thing too far. She felt that if you were female, any interest in the kitchen or cleaning meant you were being “subjugated.” We were forbidden to buy her kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, or household items as gifts, so over the years she amassed a small mountain of unopened bottles of Chanel No. 5.

Also, she hired a man <gasp!> – Richard – to clean our house twice a week. She was the only mom who had a male housecleaner, and it was kind of cool. She never said anything to me but I have no doubt that she greatly enjoyed openly toying with deeply ingrained gender stereotypes by having a man do her laundry.

We’d have dinner parties, and afterwards instead of doing the dishes like regular families – we would just leave them for Richard.

My mom taught us how to sunbathe, watch soap operas, swim without getting our hair wet, and how it might actually be possible to live your entire life without ever really having to do the dishes. She taught us other stuff, too, like how to go to college – but she kind of castrated our feminine sides – she handicapped us by making us believe that to be interested in cooking, cleaning, raising your own babies, or decorating was tantamount to well, slavery.

Her point-of-view is understandable when you consider that she was from that generation of women who came out of the Fifties wearing a heavy-artillery push-up bra, that they had to burn in the Sixties, and then in the Seventies – braless or not – they had to try to redefine the female gender.

Now that I’m a mother I’ve got this nagging feeling that there is some basic knowledge I should be passing along to my daughters about Clorox or Oxyclean that I just don’t have. My mother had a huge impact on me, and I could give a shit about mopping a floor, and when I walk down the cleaning supplies aisle at Safeway – I run. But now that I have daughters it really bothers me.

It’s ironic that I have many friends who have cleaning OCD, and I often envy them. One of my friends used to have to make his bed, military style, every day – his dad would check it for creases. He loved coming over to our house where he could relax. But now that he’s an adult, he’s got full-blown OCD. He can only relax if his house is immaculate. His kids eventually developed that washing-your-hands-too-much ritual.

I sometimes envy my OCD friends because their bra drawers are color-coordinated or their spices are alphabetized, but I’d really rather not have OCD, thank you very much. I have enough issues.

I like love my house to be clean, and although I seemed to be doing a never-ending load of laundry – no one ever had any clean socks, and the house was never very clean for very long. So last year my husband said:

“You are constantly doing laundry but nobody has any clean clothes. The likelihood of you ever ironing anybody’s underpants is zero. So why give yourself a hard time about it? Let’s hire it out.”

It took me a long time – almost a year – to get my head around the idea because of the guilt. I’m a stay-at-home-mom. I should be better at housekeeping than I am. I should have a favorite brand of toilet cleaner, shouldn’t I? Lemon-scented something? I got over this guilt as soon as I realized that for about the same amount as our monthly dry cleaning bill and the cost of having a once a week house cleaner who doesn’t do laundry or dishes, we could have someone come to the house 3 days a week and eliminate the dry cleaning bill. So now we have someone come and do dishes, laundry, ironing, and help me organize things.

Every time she leaves the house it feels like she has blessed the entire house.

So these days instead of opening my daughters drawers and finding them empty I opened them and see:

momalog, folded laundry drawer, housecleaning

And they’re FOLDED, too!

I’m telling you – the first time I saw this kind of thing in our house, I nearly had an orgasm.

There are just some things I will never be good at, and house cleaning is one of them.

10 Things I’d Rather Do Than Clean the House

1. Swim with electric eels.

2. Swim with electric eels and stinging jelly fish.

3. Swim with electric eels, stinging jelly fish, and Snooki.

4. Get stuck in an elevator for 10 hours with Kim Kardashian.

5. Attend a Justin Beiber concert with my tween, who h-words him.

6. Get chased and pecked at by a herd of rabid emus.

7. Eat live grub worms.

8. Read Ulysses backwards, in Pig Latin.

9. Wear a burlap sack to one of my husband’s work functions.

10. Get stuck in an elevator with a group of bickering moms from Toddlers and Tiaras, and their toddlers.

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Comments

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  1. Excellent take on a writing prompt as usual, Ado. You and I live on the same page, except we really didn’t have dinner parties, we had Bid Whist and Schlitz parties and some cleaning lady who nearly wanted to kill me every time she showed up and saw the mess I called a closet. I do have a favorite brand of all-purpose cleaner, though. I think it’s green and has a bald guy on the label.
    Twitter: freefringes

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    • Bid Whist and Schlitz parties?! OMG.
      Your closet and this whole comment is why I love you Erica. (-:

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  2. HA! We both dissed Kimmy K. And apparently, we both loathe housecleaning.
    Twitter: SJM_CookiesMom

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    • Maybe a dislike of Kim K. goes hand-in-hand with people who dislike cleaning?

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  3. Wow, you have some good ones on here – stuck in an elevator with Snooki AND Kim Kardashian? Yikes! The Toddlers and Tiaras moms sound pretty scary as well. Great post, I really enjoyed reading and admit I’m a little jealous of your having a cleaning person :)
    Twitter: mommy_padawan

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    • Anna, it’s the best money we ever spent. As Jackie said – I would give up my gym membership so I could keep the housecleaner. It has made such a huge difference in our home. (-:

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  4. I don’t have OCD though my husband and sister seem to think so. I have no idea where my need to clean and tidy came from, seeing I emerged from a household of hired help – well, until I was 7.

    Not saying I LOVE cleaning, or God forbid, even need to – I just like seeing my floors spotless and my laundry basket empty. Much more than being stuck in an elevator with anyone.

    Still friends, aren’t we?
    Twitter: AlisonSWLee

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    • I won’t hold it against you that you’re good at cleaning – I’ll just envy it.
      And of course we are still friends because I tend to gravitate toward OCDers, I think we all balance each other out. (-:

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    • buy auto insurance online 5102 auto insurance online lfiv
      Twitter: vOwwOLmqrSHPZ

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  5. Women every where are extremely envious of you and those drawers right now!
    Twitter: Chosenchaos

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    • I never imagined that when I grew up I’d envy people’s folded underpants, but that’s what became of me. (-: And now I’m the one with the folded undies. (-:

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  6. SO GLAD I am not the only one :)
    Twitter: SusannaLHill

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    • At least in your case you are an artist so at least you have an excuse – “the creative artist” excuse. I don’t!

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  7. Our cleaning lady is the best money we spend per month. I’d give up my gym membership, clothes shopping budget and/or buying organic to keep her. So in essence, I’d be fatter, in worse looking close, and eating pesticides with a cleaner house.
    Great post Ado!
    Twitter: notwifezilla

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    • HAHAHAHAHA! Well-put. I’m right there with you.

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  8. My brother-in-law. . . well. . . ex brother-in-law was raised in a household where they had a maid to do all their cleaning. He was raised to literally drop clothes and/or garbage wherever. . . and the maid would take care of it. He married a woman (my sister) who was a bit of a neat freak. Well. . . by his standards. Eventually his entropy beat her energy and their house became a mess.

    They are divorced now and sharing children. He’s a good friend of mine so I’ve been to his house on occasion for a beer or a picnic. . . squalor. Awful. . . awful house. There are now smells. . . and animals. He makes a decent living, and is well-dressed banker by day and a disgusting sewer urchin by night.

    He needs a maid.
    Twitter: blogginglily

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    • I wonder why he doesn’t just hire a maid? At least to come once a week? Maybe he has some other thing going on – like depression or something. That’s sad. We will sometimes find a moldy lunch box in the back of my minivan but that’s it as far as odors go. I feel sorry for your friend – talk to him maybe.

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  9. No need to feel guilty about outsourcing. Especially after you read this excerpt from Wikipedia:
    “Outsourcing thereby helps the [mom] to perform well in [her] core competencies and thus mitigating rise of skill or expertise shortage in the areas where [she] want[s] to outsource.”
    Don’t you feel better already?
    Twitter: PurpleLeavesRed

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  10. While I tend toward the OCD about having clean floors and toilets my laundry always tends to be piled (clean and NOT folded) about 5 baskets high in our bedroom corner. We have cleaners come in occasionally but I’m so weird about it that I stress and declutter days before they show up. So. I’d rather do it myself.

    I loved this list – made me LAUGH – though I’m pretty sure I could write a list on things I’d rather have happen to me than be trapped in an elevator with Kim K and Snookie. Or any(thing) from Toddlers and Tiaras. Those ‘woman!’, that show!…don’t even get me started!
    Twitter: januarydawn1

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    • January – I would also do the piles (and piles!) of clean laundry in the laundry baskets, and since I never really got around to folding it or putting it away none of us could ever find anything. I hear you on the getting stressed before they come thing – you just need to get someone who you like and who just doesn’t judge you. (-:

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  11. I get a kick out of watching the cleaning habits of my neighbours – it’s a great way to avoid cleaning your own house. Like the extreme helicopter mom to my left who cleans the house BEFORE the cleaning lady arrives. Or the one to my right who has a weekly cleaning lady…..and why I don’t know because her children are constantly HERE messing my house. Or the one a few houses down whose husband is extreme OCD and my children are not even allowed 2 feet in the door.
    don’t feel bad about outsourcing – I’d do it in a minute if I could. And I figure, you are providing a job for someone who probably really needs it. See….you are a good person!
    Twitter: rorybore

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    • You made me feel SO much better about outsourcing, but I have to say I’m glad I don’t live next door to you or you’d really be laughing. (-:

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  12. Can’t. Breathe. Laughing. Too. Hard. Call. 9. 1. gasp

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  13. Your list had me cracking up! 10 hours in an elevator with Kim?? I’m shocked at how many would rather listen to her than clean their house. I don’t know if I could do it!
    I wish I could hire someone again, but it’s not in the financial cards right now. I do have a teenager that pitches in. He is a junior in high school. I’m already having anxiety about having to do his chores when he goes off to college. I will be able to hire someone again some day, because I hate cleaning.
    Twitter: normalmomally

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    • I’m very impressed that your teen has their chore routine down – a sign of a good household w. a mama who follows through. I better get on it…

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  14. At least in an elevator you would be entertained. I will take entertainment over cleaning any day. I am officially jealous of your cleaning lady. I want one.
    Twitter: staceysmoments

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  15. My hubby got me a cleaner when my son was born. I told her I don’ t need her to do things I can do in 5 minutes but everyday projects that I never seem to complete due to kid interuption. I ended up being to shy to have her around the house and it always seemed to pour down with rain th days she came…
    Reading your intro it makes perfect sense! An your list, ount me in, Kim and all!
    Twitter: NorthWestMommy

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  16. 10 Things I’d Rather Do Than Clean My House http://t.co/lBiUBpxE by @adothemomalog #MondayListicles

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  17. I am so jealous right now, I’m salivating. Seriously. And it has nothing to do with the fact that it is lunch time. I think. This sounds even better than a sister wife….
    Twitter: DomesticatedGal

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    • Heh – I’ve gotten used to having someone in my house 3 x / week but I don’t think I’d *ever* get used to a sister wife! (-:

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  18. I’m terrible at cleaning too. I’d be embarassed by my lack of skills, but I really don’t care about cleaning! ;)
    Twitter: literalmom

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  19. Oh man a Justin Bieber concert? Cleaning is NEVER that bad!!!

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    • Heh. I think my tween would even rather clean her room AND her sister’s room than attend a concert…and that’s saying something.

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  20. Bwaahaahaa!!! I’m seeing lots of people on these listicles that have house cleaners…which is COMPLETELY awesome! Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. I do however have a SLIGHT OCD with bedmaking and kitchen floors…oh and the bathroom…other than that, I’m pretty normal ;)
    I love your list!
    xo

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    • Well – look at the bright side, people with even slight OCD in this area do not need to spend money on housecleaners! (-:

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  21. Not the Toddler and Tiara Moms!! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! ;)
    Twitter: librajenn

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  22. You always show me that I’m not alone! Raised by an alcoholic mother? Check. Who was a product of the 50s/60s/70s and all the cultural angst that implies? Check.

    I became an adult who didn’t know how to mop a floor and who is still overwhelmed by esoteric chores like dusting. What is dusting anyway? Do you need a feather thingie, or a spray and a cloth, or what?? I want a cleaning person but I’ve been hampered by finances and guilt and inertia. Maybe you’ll inspire me to do something about it.

    Did your mom also teach you that you should never think about your appearance because people should judge you by your internal beauty? It was years before I could wear anything pretty in my hair, and even longer before I could even look at makeup in the CVS without blushing hotly. I’m better now. My personal girly freedom is to paint my nails regularly ;-).

    Thanks for another great post!

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    • Maria – wow, what a profound comment – I never really thought about equating my appearance (or my lack of fashion sense) with my mother teaching me that people should judge you by your internal beauty. Very interesting, I’m not sure. My mother definitely repeated that very point, but at the same time she was very fashionable and the whole family was pretty “into” the idea that if you are beautiful or good-looking, you’re good. Mixed messages.
      Also – that inertia thing, wow – that is a real quality of ACOA’s – it took me soooo long to “solve my problem” here and “just outsource it.” Now like Jackie says I would trade my gym membership, maybe even my car – to keep the housecleaner! Also I was creative with our finances – I was using “finances” as an excuse to not help myself with my cleaning thing, and yet with a little creativity and rearranging – it turned out to be affordable for us. Good luck Maria and keep me posted…!

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  23. You reminded me of one of my favorite perks of living in Mexico…never having to do laundry. I would drop it off and pick it up all ironed and folded. I dream of hiring cleaning help but having a grandmother and mother who were and are total DIY cleaners makes me hesitate every time. I guess for now, the Aumies are in training mode. I know this having 4 kids will somehow pay off!
    Twitter: theaumsmama

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  24. I hate cleaning too…can’t wait to outsource it to all the kids.
    Twitter: dominiquegoh

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  25. Wow! I’ve never met anyone like this. I really enjoyed reading the back story to your list. Oh, and I think I’d likely prefer to clean rather do anything on your list. :-) Sometimes *gasp* I actually don’t mind it at all, but I’m definitely not OCD about it. Just ask my hubs. lol.
    Twitter: EnjoyingCourse

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  26. Your Mom sounds cool. I’m taking my inspiration from you and your Mom and seriously looking into hiring this stuff out!

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  27. hahahahahaah! I feel the same way! this was a hillarious post, thank you. xo!
    Twitter: minister_mama

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  28. From the archives: I Was Raised By Wolves http://t.co/TjQOc2Lp a post about not doing laundry #acoa

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  29. Woah, woah, woah!
    You ever been pecked by an Emu?
    I’m all for letting someone else do the cleaning, but that’s probably the only one on your list I would NEVER want to try. I got pecked once by a baby one (it was almost as tall as me, which isn’t saying much since I’m barely 5’3, but still) on the back of my hand. The bruise was huge & even after it faded my hand hurt! oh so bad!
    Things I would rather do than hang out with Kim K, Snooki or Bieber in any kind of situation? I’d choose the pack of Emus over it! ‘Nuff said, lol.

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