Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Did the Buddha care about dust bunnies?

I have come to the conclusion that being diligent with housework, is an inherited trait. Suffice to say, I am just a carrier. My grandmother was what you call a neat-freak. The smell of Javex reminds me of her. She ironed her underwear, she ironed her facecloths and bras! I always wondered why she kept dogs, because she was forever muttering about their hair. But man, could she wield a vacuum cleaner. My mother inherited this gene too. Childhood was marked with frequent naggings. Eventually I came to an age where I was allowed to keep my mess contained in my room. I did not mind mess and untidiness. I guess by virtue of osmosis, I could not much tolerate rotting food or garbage. If I wanted to go visit (or worse) sleepover at a friends house, my mother always wanted to know how clean the house was. If you were 13 years old, how would you find out? Even at that age, its a tough issue to field out. How was I supposed to find out without totally offending the other person?

And that promise, when you're growing up, "When you get old enough to own your own place you can be as messy as you want". Well, that's a total lie. Whatever you do, never say this to your children, for they will live in utter disappointment.

I resist my nature at all times. For one thing, linking housekeeping habits with core morality has been driven deep within my psyche. I could not let my kids live in a dump. That would be wrong. I'm not a freak. I can leave dishes in the sink for over 24 hours before I get the motivation to put them in the dishwasher. I can step over a glop on the floor more than 10 times before I get the inclination to clean it up. What is the motivator? Guilt. Dirt = Bad person. Who the fuck came up with that? I mean, at one point in time, you could smell Paris on approach. When did we get freaky about this.

Good lord

Do you have a shame cycle when it comes to housework?


Reluctant Housewife said...

Yes. But I'm getting WAY better at ignoring it. I have 1000 things I'd rather be doing and all of them are worthwhile, too.

The Buddhist Conservative said...

Since the Buddha only had one bowl, it is unlikely that he gave the dishes much thought.

I love a clean house but it would be wise to wear an avalanche beacon if you want a tour of my workshop.

I don't have personal knowledge but I have heard that the answer lies in one word, "housekeeper".

Katherine said...

I do have a "thing" about housekeeping but I don't think it derives from shame or guilt. I'm actually a bit awed parents who can calmly tolerate chaos and mess - it usually (not always) means they're focusing on something more worthwhile.

With me though, it's about control. Having 3 kids so close together in age has pushed all my control-issue buttons. The house is always a mess and I can tolerate a fair amount (and yes, we have a housekeeper 2 mornings/week - pretty much the norm for the middle class in SA). But then there's the tipping point: the 20th irritating crunch on Lego; another squished grape being consumed by ants; can't find any sunscreen because it has been squirted all over the backyard. Control button goes off: I'm losing the battle. A tidying binge ensues. Doubtless there's a more mindful and preemptive way to deal with this.

I feel like I could go on for pages. The house must be particularly disastrous today....

Pi said...

we are one, you and I.

Hotboy said...

Dust and old skin are the same, aren't they? I feel reassured by that. The room is covered in my old skin. Hurrah! Hotboy