I don't read a ton of Mommy Blogs, maybe because they hit too close to home or maybe because I get enough mom time in my real life. I tend to want to go beyond mom-life when I am perusing the web with my morning coffee.
But...when I saw the title of this article at Scary Mommy, I immediately not only related but knew what the author was writing about, even though I'd never heard the term: From One Rage Cleaner To Another: You Feel Better, Don’t You?
Katie Bingham-Smith writes about that all-too-familiar feeling when we start a simple chore, maybe cleaning the kitchen, and as we go about cleaning we see more and more (and still more) that needs cleaning, ending up on our hands and knees scrubbing baseboards and fuming because nobody else in the family seems to care, let alone see that this is just caked on to the surfaces of our home.
The article is satire, of course. But there's a lot of truth and familiarity in what Bingham-Smith writes.
I've worked myself into a total lather while cleaning, so much so that my family often makes a quick retreat on cleaning days.
I go between two thoughts on the issue of cleaning.
On the one hand, I resent having to do the majority of cleaning in our home. I resent cleaning toilet seats soiled with urine. I resent being on my hands-and-knees scrubbing baseboards, a sweat trickling down my back, while other people in the house watch golf or have friends running around, effectively creating more mess for me to clean. I resent that if I want help, I have to ask (beg) for it, and if it involves my kids, I have to supervise it, threaten to remove privileges and, ultimately, do it over anyway (which is why I don't ask them for help much).
On the other hand, this is my job. This is literally my job. While I write and edit part-time, my full-time job is cleaning the house, cooking the meals, securing food, running errands and keeping the house running and in order.
This is my job.
If I'm honest with myself, I could do a much better job of doing my job. I could spend less time blogging, reading, writing and exercising and get those baseboards cleaned and the laundry all sorted, washed and folded like origami birds. The toilets could be cleaned during the day, and if I was structured and disciplined with my time, all of my errands could be run in succession, not wasting time at Starbucks or making multiple trips into town.
I am not particularly disciplined when it comes to keeping up the house. I maintain a certain standard of cleanliness. The laundry gets done. The dishes are done each day, multipole times a day. We always have food. I cook most nights, and everyone has medications, lunch supplies and shampoo.
I'm not doing my best. I'm not killing it. I'm not giving 100%.
I'd estimate I give about 60%.
It's easy to talk myself out of doing my best. I tell myself the following:
I shouldn't spend all my time simply cooking and cleaning.
My brain needs more to engage in than scrubbing toilets and folding shirts.
My house is cleaner and tidier than other people.
I don't want to be neurotic.
Housewife Life is a full-time, 24-hour-a-day job, so it's crazy to expect me to do that as one person.
The list goes on.....and on.
But....I've often wondered: what would my life look like if I bumped that 60% up to even 90%? What if I took my job as a housewife as seriously as my husband takes his job as an Army colonel?
Because he doesn't show up to work and take hour-long reading breaks or meet friends for coffee for 2 hours to discuss their marriages and Crossfit routines.
I've often wondered if the bar is so low for housewives that we've created a work environment that is inherently disappointing and filled with mediocrity.
Honestly, if my kids are alive, if our home doesn't look like an episode of Hoarders and if there is a meal on the table (even take-out), I get a pass. Based on what I perceive to be society's standards for housewives and mothers, I've done my job.
But obviously I haven't. Or....I've done a shitty version of my job.
I think, for me, the bar is too low. I don't think it's possible to feel good about one's self if one is operating at 60% of capacity. I think happiness, for lack of a better word, seems to be hard work, the kind of work that makes you fall into bed each night exhausted and satisfied not with external circumstances (accumulation of wealth, body weight, party schedules, upcoming vacations) but with the day's work and our ability to give 90%+ of ourselves.
I think rage cleaning, for me, comes down to feeling bitter not about everyone else in my house but about my failure to fully do my job. I think that rage is a response to a nagging feeling in the back of my head that says: you didn't do your best (or even close to it) and you've only got yourself to blame.
But how easy it is to turn that on everyone else. :)
For years, I cleaned, cooked and maintained a nice life in the hope everyone else in my house would notice, respond in a way that felt appreciative and sort of fawn all over me in said appreciation.
Hahahaha. I know. I'm still laughing.
What if I gave my job 90% not because I wanted someone to pat me on the back or go to work raving about my toilet-cleaning abilities but because I want to lay my head on my pillow each night knowing I did my best, worked hard and lived up to the responsibilities I knowingly accepted?
I'm curious if anyone else feels this way? Do you relate to Rage Cleaning? Do you feel your house is tidy enough, that you do your literal best, or do you feel that rage because part of you realizes you're not doing your best?
Perhaps I'm alone in this. :)
Also, does anyone have a cleaning service? I've always felt this should be reserved for situations where both spouses work, but I know several stay-at-home mothers who use cleaning services and it makes a huge difference in their happiness and quality of life.
Perhaps managing a household doesn't actually mean doing it all.
I'd like to give it my best before I hire help, simply to see if it's possible to get it done and how I'd feel if I put in the work.
This is all easy to say from a hotel room in Upstate New York, after 10 hours of sleep and a mug of French press.
Life is feeling so hopeful and good from this spot in the world.