There used to be a show on cable called Weekend Warriors where people would spend their whole weekend on an adventure to complete a major renovation project. The work was labor intensive (i.e., installing new landscaping, kitchen renovation, replacing floors), but the result was worth the blood, sweat and tears (often literally). As I juggle being a wife, mom, employee, manager, sister, friend, etc., I realize that unlike Weekend Warriors, I spend my weekends trying to cram a MULTITUDE of projects into two days. Something has got to give, even though I get satisfaction from crossing projects off of my mental list.
There is a part of me that is deeply satisfied with a clean and organized home. A couple of weekends ago, I had my husband take the big dining room light down, which he hates doing because it’s not easy to maneuver. I’ve been asking him for over a year. He doesn’t think it’s been that long. I think it’s more than likely been two years. After he finally took it down, in about 10 minutes, I had that sucker sparkling like new. One weekend, I completely organized the garage. Another, I cleaned all of my spice jars. Another weekend, I reorganized the freezers. This weekend, I dusted the walls in my bedroom (unbelievable how the dust piles up), did some major vacuuming, and folded all clothes that came out of the dryer (mostly my kids).
I see no problem with this if I didn’t have other things on my activity list such as exercising, hanging out with my friends, cooking, meal prepping, going to church, doing work from the office, and catching up on phone calls with family and friends. Sometimes, I am filled with anxiety due to my extensive Weekend Warrior “to do” list. It’s like I’m running a marathon to do all of my favorite self-care activities (work from the office is not one of my self-care activities).
I think deep down (probably not so deep) lies a woman within me that is holding her household together by shouldering most of the work, partly out of control, partly out of perceived necessity, and partly for my sanity. I’ve worked the whole time I’ve had kids, but there is a part of me that regrets going back to work after I had my daughter. My husband and I talked about how much we struggled with paying child care and all of our other bills, but we were both scared of the unknown – living off one paycheck. Looking back, we both agree that we should have taken the chance. However, had I stayed home for let’s say, some years, I would have delayed getting my master’s degree, being able to contribute significantly to our finances, and meeting colleagues I’ve grown fond of over the years. Had I stayed home, my house would probably be as sanitary as a hospital room and I’m sure there would have been other pluses like more involvement in my kids’ schools and lives. Either way, I’m not mourning my decision. I believe I would’ve have gotten to where I am now eventually.
There’s a lot at play here. I told my husband on more than one occasion that I am not a housewife. I’m literally a boss in the working world. I complained about coming home to shoulder most of the housework, yet a part of me enjoys it. Like most marriages, we tend to re-evaluate our roles every so often and the conclusion is that this isn’t the 1950’s. Still it can be difficult to totally relinquish those cultural expectations.
Here’s the thing. The ritual of cleaning is soothing to me. I get great satisfaction out of living in a clean space. And I have relaxed my standards a great deal since having kids. They do have their assigned chores also. My husband does load the dishwasher, takes out the trash, mows the lawn, among other things. We all contribute, but I have the gift of identifying the odd projects that no one else thinks about. After all, my husband could care less about the dust on the ceiling fan…until I show him how caked up it is. I am a Weekend Warrior, but when I end the weekend exhausted from my escapades, then that’s a problem.
This weekend, I got to soak in the tub two days in a row, I gave myself a mani-pedi, and did my hair. It wasn’t all Weekend Warrior, but I’m so happy I dusted my walls. I suppose that’s my balance.
Surely, someone else knows my struggle. If you do, I would love to hear how you handle it. Please share.