October 19, 2010
I thought I was losing my hearing when I overheard the momversation (also known as a conversation between two moms having something to do with their children, child rearing, cleaning, shopping, or how much more they do than their husbands) right next to me in the grocery store this morning. “I love cleaning,” said one mom to the other.
I interrupted their conversation, “Excuse me, did you just say you love cleaning?”
“I do. Don’t you?” She stated more than questioned, matter-of-factly.
“Um, no!” I said as if I chose the wrong answer. Then I felt the need to explain myself, as if my answer merited some sort of explanation. “Well, don’t get me wrong. (I don’t think anyone did. They heard me.) I love a clean house and try to keep it that way for the most part, but I don’t love the work that I have to do to get there. (And as if this wasn’t enough…I went on. Did they really care? ) How can picking up toys at the end of every day, doing dishes three times a day, laundry and dusting be loved?” At this point I realized I was trying to convince myself that I was an okay mom even if I didn’t like cleaning. (Did I need validation from complete strangers?)
“I don’t know. I just find it enjoyable,” she said unapologetically. “I have time to myself to fix things the way I like them and find it rewarding.”
Time to herself? Okay, now she was bluffing. When I think of time to myself, I think of a good book, a walk in nature, a manicure on rare occasions; but cleaning, was she serious? By the look on her face, she was.
“Wow,” I remarked. “That’s great.”
“I can’t say my home is always clean, but when it is I enjoyed cleaning. It is so relaxing.” Now I felt we were onto something: she was apologizing for an unclean home as well and she liked cleaning.
We chatted for a little bit longer and then she asked if I enjoyed cooking. I told her I actually did, very much so – it was the cleaning up afterwards that I didn’t like. Every time I am done cooking and my kitchen is a mess, I snap my fingers and call for the butler. “Agador?“ (Yes, I picture my butler as the gay Guatemalan butler from The Birdcage, Hank Azaria’s character who prances around barefoot barely doing any house cleaning at all. Not because gay Guatemalan men are butlers, but because if I ever had one, why would he not be fun and entertaining like Agador? Robin Williams and Nathan Lane had one, why couldn’t I have one with “Guatemalaness?”) Of course when I call out to Agador there is no answer, because there is no Agador and the fun of cooking is over as I am left with dishes upon dishes, spoons, measuring cups and a dirty kitchen counter. Was it really worth it, Mihal?
Finally, Cleaning Mama and I agreed to disagree. Cleaning is not always fun for everyone but we all do the best we can whether we like cleaning or not. We affirmed that we were both good mothers. (Why must mothers always do that? Who knows, but we both left feeling validated.) We also agreed that the home is not always perfectly clean. (Phew, not just my home.) We parted ways.
When I got home later with my groceries, I looked around and thought that perhaps I should enjoy cleaning just a little more. I probably would if I had an Agador, however. Maybe the mom at the grocery store did. I never asked.