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Friday, May 20, 2011

Cleaning House or Playing House

Political pundits and other talking heads making the media rounds this week haven't been the only people talking about Governor Schwarzenegger and his household help. My mom has been burning up my telephone, feverishly sharing every new twist and turn of the story that she's learned from the ladies of "The View" or on "Extra" or "Entertainment Tonight." She's been giddy over this scandal, and I shouldn't wonder why, for this scandal does several things for Mom:
  1. It involves politics AND Hollywood;
  2. It proves her theory that Schwarzenegger was a womanizing pig who should never have been allowed to breach the gates of Camelot;
  3. It proves my mom's theory that you should never have another woman clean your house!
Mom's always been anti-maid, well, by "always" I mean for as long as I've known her which is all of my life! Her actual words were these, "Don't let another woman in your house." As any good daughter would do, I asked my mom for clarification, I mean did this extend to dinner invitations for women, and what about UPS drivers of the fairer sex. She told me not to have such a "smart mouth", but she did offer a further explanation. She meant that if I were to one day find myself married, that I should never have another woman cleaning my house, cooking my food, or engaging in any other domestic tasks usually done by a wife. Now, my mom worked full-time in an office throughout my childhood and when she got home, her workday continued as she straightened up the house - schlepping dirty laundry to the basement, putting away the dinner dishes. Surely, she could have hired a cleaning woman at a reasonable rate, but she always refused, saying, "Don't let another woman in your house," so I knew that this was something close to her heart, but why?

In my mom's mind, cleaning and cooking connect you to the most intimate parts of a person. The act of doing isn't just a necessity, but it's an intimate dialogue. I used to think she was a bit kooky, until I started dating the man that I eventually married. Now, I'm not vacuuming the house in high heels (we've covered that already!) but marital intimacy is built on a daily diet of little things - loading and unloading the dishwasher, folding the laundry, putting out the garbage. So now, insert a stranger into the mix, a strange person who loads and unloads the dishwasher, who folds the laundry, who puts out the garbage, a person who does this for pay in the intimate space of your home. Things can get twisted!

Now, I'm not saying that we should hold the Feminist movement over the balcony by its ankles. No, I think that each person in a household should contribute to the upkeep and care of the home through their physical effort. Heck, "The Walton's" all pitched in and they sure as hell loved each other (I know, it was television, but just work with me!). I am saying, though, that sometimes a load of dirty laundry is more than the sum of its smelly parts. There are some days when everything that can go wrong does go wrong and yet the thing that makes me happy is my husband thanking me for picking up his favorite cheese from the market. These little acts make a marriage and make a home, and let no man or maid put asunder. I'm just saying:)

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