Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chores - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It seems I've spent a lifetime trying to impress upon the Farmer just how much behind the scenes work it takes to keep life rolling along smoothly. The problem is generational. We are stuck like glue to the dynamics of the generation in which we were raised.

Those in the generation before us had less advanced appliances, fabrics that required tons of work and less technological advantages. Women generally did not work outside of the home and were therefore CEO's of the homestead.

For my mother's generation keeping a clean home, managing to put us out the door neatly dressed with mended clothing and putting home cooked food on the table was a point of pride. That attitude spilled onto my generation, although things changed a bit as we moved forward through the women's movement.

I appreciate all the shortcuts and labor saving devices that have been developed, especially the advances in fabrics. I can remember my mother sprinkling the clean laundry with water from a bottle with a cork stopper sprinkler head. The clothing would be folded and rolled up and placed in the refrigerator to keep damp and cool until she found time to iron.

OH.... ironing! I love to iron but I remember it being a task of pure drudgery for my mom. We'd steer clear of her on ironing day. For me it's pleasureable to put a Netflix movie on my computer and iron.

The generational clean-house-pride is probably why I am so baffled by stay-at-home moms who have cleaning ladies. Truth be told I'd probably love to have a cleaning lady but it continues to feel wrong in my world view. Some day I'll get over it and come into the 21st century.

Another pleasurable chore is mowing. We have two acres which requires at least two hours on the lawn tractor. I enjoy being outdoors in the fresh air. The noise of the mower does not allow me to appreciate the quiet countryside but the hum of the engine does produce a type of white noise which allows my mind to wander. I've solve many a problem thinking and riding that tractor.

Within minutes of cutting a path down the side yard the birds appear, swirling and diving from all directions. At times they barely miss my head. At first I thought there was a nest nearby that they were protecting. I walked the property, searching in every tree for the nest. There were none to be found. A quick question on an internet forum produced the answer. The beautiful streamlined birds were barn swallows, drawn by the promise of a quick meal.

The mower stirs up insects in the grass and the swallows dive in for the meal. Barn swallows are just beautiful, with creamy undersides, backs and wings covered with blue/black feathers that shimmer in the light. They're so graceful and sleek, with forked swallowtails.

How about you? Are you stuck in a generational rut? Do you have favorite chores and those you dread?

Personally, I'll wash dishes all day by hand rather than unload that dishwasher!


Marilyn in Norfolk said...

I like laundry and ironing when there is not much of it. Would rather unload the dishwasher a dozen times than do it by hand.

We are bracing here for Hurricane Irene. Have the whole trifecta of earth, wind and fire going on here. Earthquake, hurricane and smoke from the fires in the Great Dismal Swamp. Strange days indeed. The earthquake was much more swaying than the shaking I've experienced in Illinois.

Kate said...

I'd definitely have a cleaning lady whether I was at home or not. There are no household chores that I take pleasure in the doing of, or pride. None. Nada. Not even cooking.

I work half-time in my home office and when it can be arranged, I have someone come in for two hours every two weeks and wash the floors and clean the bathrooms and once in a while clean the fridge or something. It is easy to keep up with things in between.

I'd far rather sit at my desk earning an hourly wage doing something I enjoy, and pay someone else to do things I don't enjoy doing, but like to have done. I never aspired to be a housekeeper or homemaker, though the state of my home is important to me. And it does seem that the grunt work —the daily drudgery— of keeping the home fires burning falls to the woman of the house. It's me who pays for that housecleaning, not my husband. Wonder why that is? It's because he assumes it's my responsibility, and I can't live in a filthy house.

Tess said...

I love to cook. My grandmother used to say...."There are two kinds of people in the world; those who cook and those who clean." I thought she was just trying to get out of doing dishes.

I've tried having a housekeeper, but apparently I'm too fussy.


Taryn said...

Oh, Tess. I love that saying!! I'm definitely a cooker. And it's a good thing, because with 4 kids and 5 dogs I don't feel like I have a chance at staying on top of the cleaning. I'm doing good to keep up with the cooking. lol And there aren't any kinds of chores that I enjoy doing either. Doing the dishes (in any form) is the one I dislike the most, and the one I have to do the most of. lol I've tried to delegate to the kids only to find myself going along behind them to do it 'right'. So I finally decided that it is usually easier to just do it myself.

Mary Rex said...

I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when any chore is done. But I am kind of a messy cook, the kind who can completely destroy the kitchen in the preparation of dinner. Though you can count on it being a pretty darn tasty & nutritious meal - often with homegrown vegetables and homemade quick bread - the person who volunteers to clean up behind me is thankful for the dishwasher, I'm sure!

Anonymous said...

I would love to have someone clean my house, but just can't fathom spending the money. I have girlfriends who stay home with their children and still have cleaning ladies. Then they complain how they do not have money. That's when I have an issue. I work full time as a teacher and still don't have enough money!

lifeinredshoes said...

Ahhh the dishwasher, I was in my 30's before we were introduced. It's a nice place to store dishes, but no less work than washing by hand.
I remember the ironing in the fridge! For some reason everything I buy is 100% cotton and requires at least a light pressing. I don't mind that either, rather zen-like:)
If I could hire someone to do a household chore it sure wouldn't be cleaning, it would be cooking! I don't mind 2 or 3 times a week, but it would be nice to have someone else make up the difference.
Where are you working?

Sandy said...

I don't mind ironing. My chore when I was growing up was to iron my daddy's white starched shirts for Sunday wear. Yep, got 'em out of the fridge! We even ironed sheets and pillowcases. Oh, and don't forget daddy's white handkerchiefs. My moma had a schedule for chores. Monday was laundry day and we only had clotheslines. Mopping on Tuesday and polishing furniture which required changing the scarves on the furniture. We ironed every Thursday, groceries on Friday and Saturday was spent getting our clothes ready for church on Sunday and polishing our shoes. Those were the days. Kids today really don't know what they're missing, do they? After our chores were done my mama ran us out of the house, locked the screen door and we entertained ourselves all day and we had us some fun!!

Suze said...

Housework is my dread. I try and try but it defeats me time after time. I am so thankful for my "domestic servants". When I was young we would holiday at my aunt's cottage. There was no electricity and tank water. I learned to heat water for baths and hand wash whole loads of sheets etc by the time I was seven or so. Electricity was celebrated but still there were no machines etc.

Having said all that I take almost insane pride when I turn horrible chef whites clean and hang them on the line. I also like to turn out a great meal.

Leslie T said...

Oh how I remember my mom standing at the ironing board in the afternoon while watching Queen For A Day, as she sprinkled my dad's white dress shirts and rolled them up, then put them in the laundry basket and eventually the refrigerator. She'd iron a couple of shirts and then stash the rest of them behind the mayonnaise so my dad wouldn't see them lurking in the fridge. I always find those memories to be quite amusing. I think that half the time my mom ended up having to completely re-wash the shirts because they mildewed before she got around to ironing them. Laundry was not my mom's gift. She was an amazing woman who was always there for us, she was PTA president, Girl Scout Leader, always willing to drive a carload of girls to whatever event we needed transportation to, but let me tell you we had a heck of a time finding clean clothes around our house. The day I learned to use the washing machine by my ownself, I do believe that the sun beamed through my window, a rainbow appeared, and a few strains of the Hallelujah Chorus could be heard.
And so it is no Freudian mystery as to why I myself am the laundry queen. I love doing laundry. I seriously should open a laundromat, such is my love of doing laundry.
I also do a lot of ironing. And toilet scrubbing, and all the rest of the household tasks.... except.... yes, wait for it, I have a dirty little secret of my own.... I LOATHE dusting. I will scrub out a toilet (by hand, with baking soda) any day, but it takes a great effort to talk myself into dusting.
So the truth is that my house gets a quick, half-hearted once-over with a dust cloth every couple of weeks, and if company is coming I'll do a thorough job of dusting everything in the place, lest the truth get out about what a sloth I am.
It's tragic, really, that such a fantastic little laundry queen/floor mopper/dish washer/toilet-scrubber is completely lacking the dusting gene. Somewhere in heaven my Granny is heaving a sigh of deep sorrow.