My nephew Jordan is a senior in college. He’s been staying with us for the whole summer while taking classes and working on campus. I love having him around. He mows the lawn, helps out with TG and Tog and keeps me company on the days I work from home.
Two nights ago, I’m sitting on the couch. Jordan and his girlfriend are sitting across from me. We’re all half-watching a repeat of the show Wife Swap.
I wonder aloud: What kind of wife would the producers swap with me?
Jordan’s girlfriend piped up immediately:
“A wife who does a lot of housekeeping!”
My nephew Jordan adds helpfully:
“Yeah, a wife who cleans up and cooks. And one who doesn’t talk back to her husband and isn’t really bossy.”
So obviously, this is what Jordan has taken away from his summer with me.
I’m bossy. I don’t cook. I don’t clean.
Translation: I suck as a wife and a mother.
Not sure why. But Jordan’s words reverberated in my head for the next two days. He meant it off hand. But it struck me like a bull’s eye.
Was it true?
I did a quick inventory. And gulped. Just a few days ago, TH and I got a card for our anniversary from my parents. Our gift? A gift certificate to MaidPro, a housecleaning service.
Yeah. It’s true.
I’m in some kind of zone right now. I got the edits back for my book. Still shilling for Yummy’s. Just got a Big Story for a magazine I’ve never written for before.
I’m in Writer Mode.
And it’s true. I haven’t yet learned to blend Writer, Wife and Mom-mode seamlessly.
Hereforth, my guilty admissions:
1. I send the laundry out.
We bought a house last year. Haven’t yet bought a washer and dryer. I should go to the laundromat every weekend like the rest of the world.
I don’t do laundromats.
I’ve tried. I’ve schlepped Tog and five blue Ikea bags full of laundry to my neighborhood spot. It takes all day! Do you know how many words I can write in a day? I don’t belong in the laundromat.
I feel like an insufferable diva to admit this. But it’s true. I don’t wash clothes. I send them out to a wonderful woman on Springdale Avenue who returns them back to me the next day. The clothes are expertly folded and smelling great. She even makes sure to wash Tog’s blankie separately in un-scented detergent.
(We won’t talk about how it takes me three days to put the clothes away.)
I go through phases. I once cooked every single meal that TH and I ate for an entire four month period. We saved lots of money and lost a ton of weight. It was great. Lately, “cooking dinner” involves driving down to Bloomfield Avenue and picking up an order of chicken savoy from Michaelangelo’s.
Tog knows every eatery up and down Bloomfield Avenue, from Newark to Verona. We drive past Panera: “turkey sandwich!” she yells out. We drive past the State Street Grill: “Food! I love food!”. We drive past 7-11: “Slurpee! I want the brown one!”
Yes. I’m ashamed.
But right now, I just can’t do it. I can’t even fathom pulling out pots and pans and whipping something up.
I keep cereal and milk stocked. I whip up grilled cheese sandwiches each afternoon for whoever wants one. There’s always fruit, bread, peanut butter and jelly, turkey and cheese. (Okay. Not always. But usually.)
If you live here, you’re on your own for meals for the most part. TG and Tog get some semblance of dinner on a daily basis. TH? He’s lucky if I save him some chicken savoy.
I do a lot of straightening. When you have a two year old who likes to draw, play with clay, write on a chalkboard and strew books and toys throughout a very small house, straightening is a necessity. At least three times a day, I’m sweeping through the house, returning things to where they belong.
But deep down cleaning? Under couch scrubbing? Mopping? Sweeping? Dusting?
I did some spring cleaning. But. That was spring.
It’s not like we’re ankle-deep in sludge. But I wouldn’t eat off my floors. All the kissing up to God in the world doesn’t work up in here.
There. I’ve admitted it. It’s all out.
Jordan’s done with his classes and is returning home to his parents today.
Just a few minutes ago, he packed up his suitcases and thanked me for letting him stay with us.
“Of course,” I said. “We loved having you. Sorry I didn’t cook and clean enough for you.”
“You did cook and clean,” Jordan said. “Once. I think.”
Dear Readers: Do you cook and clean on a daily basis? If you’re planning on marrying and having children, how do you see the separation of responsbilities? Will you cook nightly and clean daily? If you’re already married with children, how do you balance it all? Can I eat off your floors?
I’d love to hear from you…