Have you ever had the distinct impression that your body was being inhabited by another being—like, say, a pearl-sporting, plastic smiling, 50s era Memphis housewife? No? Okay, maybe it’s just me. I am not typically a believer in the occult, but it is the only explanation I can come up with to account for the day I have had today.
If you know me at all, you know that a perfect little housewife is about as far from me as a person can be. Truth be told, if it were not for Ruanita, my children would be living in squalor. I am just not a very good housekeeper. As a matter of fact, I suck. I readily admit it.
It’s not that I am lazy. I really am not. It’s just that, well…cleaning the oven just never occurs to me. Vacuuming is a natural consequence of installing carpet, but I don’t think about it. Brooms are made for a purpose, but it never crosses my mind to sweep. Normal people see a dusty table and pull out the Pledge. I either don’t see it or it just doesn’t connect. Perhaps my “housekeeping” synapses didn’t form correctly in utero. I think it might be genetic.
So imagine my surprise when, quite unexpectedly, I went on a cleaning rampage today. We had been threatening the children for weeks that we are going to make them clean their rooms–really clean their rooms. Purge their rooms. They had become so messy that even I noticed that there was no discernible pathway to their beds anymore—perhaps, in part, due to the fact that they’ve been sleeping in our bedroom since school let out. Regardless of the reason, however, their bedrooms had become an eyesore—even to my domestically blind eye.
After weeks of empty threats, Ruanita finally laid down the law on Friday. The children would clean their rooms this weekend. I was all for it until the revelation hit me that Ruanita was scheduled to work ten-hour days on both Saturday and Sunday. Shit.
That left me. Domestically decrepit me to coordinate/assist/threaten/coerce the children into cleaning. It was not the ideal scenario and I secretly suspect Ruanita, after years of watching me wandering around the house idly while she washed dishes and scrubbed toilets, was enacting some sicko passive-aggressive plot to make me clean, too.
I began yesterday with Sophie. She was a rock star. Honestly. She is such a little cleaner. Such a hard worker. If I did not have vivid memories of puking throughout her entire cesarean birth, I would seriously suspect that she was not really my progeny. This work ethic of hers is obviously a genetic anomaly—a throw-back to some indomitable pioneer woman from generations ago.
She worked her skinny little ass off. She hauled toys down to the basement. She carried bags of trash out to the alley. She willingly threw away toys/art supplies/games she did not need and hadn’t touched in months. She was all like, “Yep, toss it.” “Get rid of it.” “Don’t need it.” I was totally in awe of her.
Today was the boys’ turn. “Awe” is not really the term I would use to describe the experience of cleaning with the boys. Unless you are using the word in the sense of:
Awe, noun —the power to inspire dread or fear
Awe, noun —an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.
Their reaction to cleaning certainly inspired dread and fear in me. Fear of turning on my television in twenty years to see a future episode of Hoarders featuring the basement-dwelling Pierce-Ralph brothers.
But I digress. Let’s get back to me. My sons’ hoarderific tendencies are a blog for another day.
I was a whirlwind today. I cleaned the boys’ room, removing four garbage bags of junk and clutter. I carried all the bags—in addition to several armfuls of various broken toys—to the trash bin in the alley. I organized all of their remaining toys and books and various collections of peculiar things. I made their beds. I vacuumed their room (after finally figuring out how to turn the damn thing on). Then I proceeded to vacuum the hallway and the living rom. I even vacuumed the bathroom rug.
Then I baked cookies. From scratch. From a cookbook my son picked out at the library. A Star Wars cookbook. I made Sand Trooper Sandies. In the shape of stars. What the hell??
Then I washed all the dishes and ran the dishwasher.
Then I bathed all three of my children.
Then I emptied the dishwasher. Seriously. Me. The woman who has been known (ssshhhh…don’t tell Ruanita) to re-run a dishwasher full of dishes to avoid putting them away, actually emptied the dishwasher of my own accord.
Then I went to the grocery store.
Then I made a huge pot of homemade chicken and dumplings for dinner. From scratch!
Then—and this is the kicker—I washed the dumpling pot. That does not sound like much, but I am a firm believer in “the soak.” I believe that all large pots should soak overnight before being washed. Yes, I am fully aware that my beloved partner, who tends much less toward a squalorly lifestyle than me, cannot stand a pot in the sink and will likely wash it before my prerequisite 24-hour soak is up. But I should not squelch my own beliefs simply because of her eccentricities. Right?
So what in the hell is wrong with me today? Have I lived with Ruanita for so long that I am turning into her? Is the nearly-orgasmic pleasure of purging more powerful than my genetic disposition toward disarray? Was the sweet swan song of dumplings more than my apathetic psyche could resist?
I don’t know the answer. Hence, my hypothesis about the body-snatching, decade-hopping, homemaker. It’s really the only feasible explanation I can come up with.