So I've been trying to figure out why it is that I am so obsessed with housework, and why I think that needs to be the focus of my attention while I am not working. It's kind of making me crazy, because there are clearly so many more entertaining and meaningful things to do right now!
A couple of weeks ago it occurred to me (as I was on my hands and knees unsuccessfully chasing tufts of dog hair and spilled coffee up and down the hallway in filthy pajamas, just like I was the day before vacuuming the basement stairs in pilled fleece pants and a two-day-old t-shirt) that I could probably stand to lighten up just a little on myself. I have such a critical eye; I'm always scanning the background for the thing that's out of place, surreptitiously glancing into the corner for the dust-bunnies, noting whether or not the drapes or the pants are an inch too short or long, checking to see if the shoes, belt and bag match or at least coordinate... It's incredibly distracting. And I am always mortified when someone stops by the house and sees the inevitable dirt and clutter (because it seems no matter how hard I work it still all looks like shite).
I've always thought that the reason my home was less than Martha Stewart perfect was because of my own inefficiency and lack of skill and training in housekeeping. If I could just master the special counter-wiping technique, or train myself and everyone else to follow a routine, develop rituals, find the money to buy the all new everything...
And so, off and on over the last half-dozen years, I've been following the FlyLady - she's all about routines. Unfortunately she is also all about selling her proprietary FlyLady stuff, and filtering through all her puffy-haired, pantyhose-under-the-jeans, Jesus-lovin' BS, etc... so I tend to fall off the wagon - frequently and hard. But even if the Flylady is a little too Right for me - she is absolutely right in that clearing out clutter, and developing systems and routines one at a time, will eventually get the desired result. (visit her at http://www.flylady.net if you're interested - just prepare for some cringing and wincing)
But why do I care so much about this housecleaning business? Why am I always feeling ashamed about the state of my domestic affairs (and it's particularly mortifying when I'm not working outside the home)? I don't really understand what this obsession/compulsion is all about (except the accessories thing - that comes from having Margot Clayton as your mom; even at 82 she still puts herself together perfectly 100% of the time, but she is the most devil-may-care housekeeper, and I've never heard her utter much more than a peep about the quality of someone else's housekeeping efforts); all I know is that not only am I just generally distracted and irritated by the dirt and clutter around me, and I must assume that other people are too, and will judge me. Or worse, they'll feel uncomfortable in my home.
Clearly I can't hold Margot accountable for this one (except that maybe she could have trained me just a little bit better in the womanly art of homemaking), so I'm totally blaming Martha Stewart. Clearly she made just a bit too strong of an impression on me during my early household management career.
And this is the part where I'm supposed to commit to finding other priorities. Or to being a better housekeeper. But I'm not going to. I'm still determined to do both.