Thursday, May 31, 2007


Ok. So this is so totally NOT a post bitching about housework, I swear. I have to let y'all in on a little secret: I don't DO a lot of housework first of all because I have the best husband in the world, who gets up before Harry and me and unloads the dishwasher, puts away laundry, makes sure the trash and recycling is caught up, does a load of laundry, etc-- he'd make the bed if Harry and I weren't still in it-- and second because a cleaning person comes a couple times a month to do the big stuff. I may play the part of the disenfranchised hausfrau from time to time, but that is so not who I am (hellooo? I am writing a book about abortion and Planned Parenthood that will CHANGE THE WORLD, remember. I just happen to have an office at home. Oh? and Ben-- sometimes he vacuums the stairs FOR FUN because that is how awesome he is). I promise, this is not a post about the sexual division of labor because in our house, there is no such thing. Case in point: yesterday was garbage day, and I brought the cans IN after Ben took them OUT. Ha! Suck on that Dr. Freud-- we both do inside and outside tasks (but yes, the in out thing does sort of apply-- and the suck on reference, totally penis envy, but whatever-- analysis is so passe). Well, I guess we still do grapple with the sexual division of labor, since the cleaning perosn is a woman, but I swear we do not have an exploitative relationship, or maybe that's what I tell myslef to go to sleep at night.* Anyway... I am going to bitch a little about some of my mundane work because, well, that's what I do.

There's one task I do about 5 times a day that is starting to drive me insane: cleaning up Harry's food mess. Wiping the tray, scrubbing the seat of his chair, cleaning between the slats of his chair, wiping up countless drops of milk from the sippy he flings on the floor time after spitty time, rinsing his dishes, trying to sponge off his sippy cup, so he can finish his milk later, rinsing any empty containers that can be recycled, cleaning off his face, arms, legs, tummy, and whatever other body part was exposed during the meal/ snack even though he DETESTS the wash cloth and would prefer to leave little food particles everywhere instead, carrying all the dirty wash cloths, bibs, towels to the laundry room and the recycling to the garage. And the floor. Oh, god the floor! Sweeping up all the crumbs, spending some serious time on my hands and knees wiping up oatmeal, waffle, pureed whatever, ravioli-- anything wet or squishy, then quickly drying and buffing the previously wiped areas, so that Harry doesn't walk through the wet marks and leave grubby little foot, hand, and knee prints all over the house. Then, because I am an obsessive compulsive cleaner at heart, when I am on the floor wiping, I notice that the table legs are dirty, or the chair legs, or the legs of Harry's highchair, so I clean them. Or maybe from my vantage point, I notice a glob of food under the dishwasher, or a paticularly offensive handprint on the slider, or a non-gleaming bit of cabinet-- and then, I am off! A mad woman with a rag (or Pledge wipes, which, seriously, clean every surface and smell so oogd. You should all buy some Pledge wipes ASAP). No wonder Harry follows me around wiping surfaces. Oh? And? When I clean up breakfast (as opposed to morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, or dinner)**, I have an extra special reward: a seriously poopy diaper. It's really gross because Harry smells sweet like oatmeal or waffle or fruit and shitty at the same time. Totally reminds me of my childhood: My brother Ben used to crap his pants during breakfast, too (but only til he was 12 or so), and it always smelled like shit and syrup, and I couldn't eat maple syrup until my late teens.

The thing is, Harry is so fun at meal times. He can use his spoon and drink from his cup, and he loves to explore different food textures. He's a great conversationalist, too, chaning the tone of his babble to mimic us and pointing at different things and saing "This?" so we'll tell him the proper noun. He laughs his way through meals and snack and offers us bites of his food (and by offers, I mean demands that we at least pretend to eat and enjoy whatever nasty spitty blob of grossness is hanging from his grody little hands-- but with such a sweet, foody smile). I don't want to let my growing hatred of the clean up affect his fun, carefree meals-- which is why I am bitching HERE instead of trying to curtail his mess in any way because messing is learning, right? And oh my god forget Freud and bring on Spock because if that's not permissive parenting, then I don't know what is. It's not often when praxis and theory converge so eloquently, but I am not just writing about the ideology of intensive mothering (in ye olde dissertatione-- the silly spelling makes it fun not terrifying). I am LIVING it.

Here are some breakfast pics which do not to justice to the mess, could never help you experience the smell, and completely explain the adorableness.
Starting out clean enough

Some sticky refuse on the tray


Asking me NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME BY ANY MEANS what the fan is-- perhaps "fan" is not a satisfacotry answer. Round and round thing that also lights up? This? It? That?

Gloriously messy spoon feeding-- and he is definitely poopy here

Scheming about how to climb up to the knives. Only a matter of time, huh?

Cruisng with the chair

Happily backing me into a corner by the dishwasher

Thinking it's time for a pants change

This, apparently, is my dancing face

*Even though we were both overwhelmed by the amount of housework in this place, it was really hard to come to terms with getting help on a moral/ethical level. I took a class on care work a couple of years ago and I read Nickle and Dimed, so I really had to ponder the feminist implications of a housecleaner, and I am still uneasy, and I always clean the toilet bowls before she comes because seriously it's the least I can do.
** Ben OF COURSE also deals with Harry's meal mess, so don't think I am the only one who cleans the kitchen because that's just not true.


  1. Anonymous11:37 AM

    you have just explained (eloquently) a mother's lament..I
    butwas never as obsessive/compulsive but did hae help until I went to work, no public transportation here then...Love your narratives...Bomma

  2. Anonymous12:37 PM

    The kitchen...not so much...the Harry mess of course...I would say that I don't typically clean the kitchen...I would say that I clean up dinner sometimes which is in the kitchen...hmmm...I also water the plant...but thats outside...god I love that plant...everything you could ask for in a daughter, but I digress. Ya, I would not call myself the kitchen cleaner...I do enjoy the mindless labor of vacuuming stairs though.

    Busy at Work,


  3. Okay, sure, Ben, but cleaning up Harry's dinner mess IS, essentially, cleaning the kitchen. Planty does not count as any sort of cleaning, only as a weird fixation. Jsut because you carried Planty around the Farmers Market and got your shirt all dirty does NOT mean she is your daughter. That walk is NOT analogous to pregnancy, labor, etc.
    Busier than you and also at work,

  4. also, hi, Bomma! thanks for the comments!

  5. Anonymous2:54 PM

    Love love love it. And I totally get it. Maybe that's why we've only introduced bananas so far. And just when you think you can save a step by skipping the bib and stripping him down to his diaper instead he discovers just HOW COOL it is to force mashed bananas into your belly button.

    Sigh, we're going to miss those sticky handprints one day... and then it'll be their wives' problem.