Ideal homemaker

I am not a perfect homemaker! There I have said it! I don’t mean it in a demeaning manner in which many people look down upon housekeeping as  lowly. On the contrary, I believe that it is continuous toil and perseverance that keep your home looking sparkling and organized. More often than not I have struggled with it. It is another issue that I have made peace with my own abilities and disinterest . There have been times in the past especially when I was a new homemaker when I felt positively small because my skills were no match to some other superwomen I saw. I have never ever been interested in arranging things, cleaning up, doing dishes or folding clothes. My only redeeming homemaking skill is cooking. I genuinely enjoy it and prefer to do it myself. But tell me to dust, clean, organize and mop and I feel a deep malaise coming on. Now in another Universe, it would be perfectly fine not to enjoy these chores or be good at them. But in this life, of a woman and a wife, I am supposed to be effortless at them when in fact, I have no interest in them.

Especially for other women. I have rarely come across a man unless it is your husband to care about your housekeeping skills. In the initial year or two of marriage, I actually learned housekeeping from my husband. Yes, you can close your mouth, dear! True. Blame it to lack of interest and practice in my own home. While mom handled the home with the househelp, we kids actively engaged in keeping up the clutter. Cut to marriage and USA.

The first thing that hit me was the lack of maid. This was a complete nightmare. But having a new husband helped a lot. You know how very patient we are when we are in the throes of young love. So he with the most observant eyes that my younger son has inherited helped me spot dust and clean correctly looking for dirt and grime in hidden places. Slowly, I started handling things better and was able to manage the chores even though I loathed them. The two of us helped each other in cooking, cleaning and doing chores.

But what used to instil fear in me was having people over especially women. They have laser eyes and can spot sometimes a speck of dirt from a mile. Some of them kept their homes so clean that you could almost eat off their kitchen platform while poor me huffed and puffed and somehow kept it clean. A thing or two out of place did not make me go into a mini heart attack and that is the honest truth. I wonder why some people stress so much over that and drive everyone around them nuts.

So, I was nervous around women especially the adept homemakers which were in an overwhelming large number. Back in India and with maids again, I realized that there is still a lot of housekeeping that I had to do. How does so much dust come into our homes every day? Add to it, I have two kids now who love to strew things around. That makes me so mad. I hate picking up after people and as the husband would vouch for, the looks I give could kill! Yet they continue to test me and my patience.

But then as years passed I witnessed a change in myself. I actually became more comfortable in my skin and less needy to fit in. I somehow mingled with women for whom a lived-in house was not a mirror about a woman’s existential skills. A stray woman or two with a random blunt comment was ignored or replied to niftily. The husband and kids were not overwhelmingly fussy. I know of women whose husbands while not lifting a finger around the house are very ‘particular’ about how the house should be kept. This baffles me utterly because the house belongs to everyone in the family. If you find something amiss, just correct it, wouldn’t you say? Why yell at the top of the house till the wife scrambles in and does it? Such is the conditioning of some folks!

Anyhow, so yes, with the help of maids, I do a pretty decent job of keeping the house. The kids help me too. But still sometimes I struggle with clutter or keeping up with all the organizing. I no longer think of myself as a poor homemaker though but nothing earthshattering either.

Even though my idea of detoxing is not washing dishes or cleaning the house, it does not make me a lesser woman. Period!

43 Thoughts on “No longer trying to fit into the mould of an ideal homemaker

  1. I agree with you – I am not a homemaker at all. I don’t fit into the mold.
    Our house isn’t unclean. Its not spotless either *shrugs*
    I hate dusting and do it only when I have to. Though I do vacuum once a week. The husband and I share chores and so, it makes life easier. The things he hates – I take care of and vice versa 😀
    One lady asked me why I have books all over the house – I asked her back – what’s it to you? Did you come here to clean or eat? 😛
    No more unnecessary comments after that and people don’t comment about my books anymore 😀

    • Me too. I am not saying keep the house dirty but l can’t stand the cleanliness obsession that barely allows people to do what they like. Luckily, l have maids to help now yet l can’t spend all my time organizing, cleaning and dusting. It gets overwhelming frankly. Good on you about how you tackled the comment. I guess more of us are finding our voices against the ridicule.

  2. True that. I can write a post in response to what you have written. But to capture what I felt reading this post, I believe the guilt of perception is way too high in such cases. And no matter how strong or clear we are in perspective we cannot escape it.

    It took me a long time to scream out loud I am not a very disciplined homemaker. Not that I don’t like a clean and well maintained house, funny I love it! But the act of making it so bores me to death.

    Too much conflict I say 😛

    • Oh yes, l know what you mean, Richa. But we have to fight that guilt. I know l did for a long time. I love a clean house too. And mine is that but l can’t be cleaning all the time. Luckily l have a maid to dust now because with respiratory allergies, it was nightmarish to cope with that core. Besides with two kids in the house, it is futile to keep obsessing over order in the house at all times. Boring that l can relate to for sure. 🙂

  3. Even though my idea of detoxing is not washing dishes or cleaning the house, it does not make me a lesser woman.

    Well said, Rachna. Hope I learn that doing this doesn’t make me a lesser man either.

  4. I want a clean house and I don’t mind doing the dusting but for the other things I need my maid. I absolutely hate cooking… I don’t know how our mothers did it but I’m also not cut iut for it… Just today I was telling S why can’t we wear disposable clothes… I hate washing,drying & folding.. Just my ocd for a decently cleaned house manages to get me do these things..I can’t even make sweets for festivals which makes me feel guilty sometimes because my daughter will miss what I had..but that doesn’t make me bad does it?

    • We all want a clean house but l am talking about the ones obsessed with cleaning. And how they turn their nose up at others. Also having kids teachers you to make peace with clutter and mess. Just wait for a few years and you will know what l mean. 🙂

  5. I enjoy doing housekeeping stuff, De cluttering makes me feel satisfied. Though with full time job I can’t do it daily, yeah but whenever time allows.

  6. He he, agree. I do like cleaning up though, but that’s a personality trait, not because I am a woman 😉 Interestingly enough, I inherited this from my dad! At home, he has always been the one to make sure things are in place, every single time. He would dust and wipe and clean until it drove my mom nuts 😀

    I don’t judge anyone- man or woman- based on how they keep their homes. God knows it’s hard work and India has too much dust that abounds in any case. I go days without dusting and one fine day I will get the vigour to clean the whole house. Also, it’s different now than what it used to be before I had Gy. Now, if I can find it and it’s clean, then it’s a bonus. I clean only because it makes me feel good, period. I am not a great cook nor do I enjoy cooking as such so cleaning and laundry are my relaxation 😀

    • As I know you wouldn’t. I am quite understanding when it comes to mess or clutter in other’s houses. It could be for so many reasons including having kids at home. I guess we are all different with different interests and l am happy that so many of us are understanding of that fact.

  7. That’s exactly it Rachna. Till I was working somehow a lot was forgiven but the day I decided to quit work and stay home for the kids it was assumed that I’d hand;e the housework perfectly. Oh and that thing about visiting women – bang on true. Mercifully I’ve graduated too from worrying about it. Most people who visit are friends who know me beyond the dust on my table. Thank you for doing this post.

    • Absolutely, l used to get so nervous when people came visiting, not any more though. It took some time to not get affected by the judgement of others.

  8. Folks have different yardstick for cleanliness. I prefer a clean house even though I don’t enjoy the process. Thankfully the husband helps in the housekeeping part on weekends.

    • I prefer a clean house too. I am more referring to clutter and mess here. I think people should leave their standards at home instead of accessing their noses at others. It is quite rude actually. Housekeeping is a lot of work with 2 kids and a dog at home. Thank heavens for the maids especially the dusting maid.

  9. Haha! You and Janaki will hit it off straight away, I believe.
    She’s very much like you;
    And no, not judging anyone.
    I’ll be surprised if we can find anything in our home. It’s always cluttered. And if it isn’t, then you can be assured that the stuff would be ‘stuffed’ into that Black hole cupboard, I’d written about once.

    • I am sure we will. With a toddler at home it would be a miracle to not have a messy home. I have a number of drawers and cupboards that are mostly organized once a year. 🙂

  10. I personally don’t understand why homes should be spotless clean all the time. It only just has to be orderly enough for us to live in it. Or maybe I’m just saying that because I don’t like to do chores either :p.

    I keep telling my mom to stop dusting and wiping when we’re expecting guests. Can’t we be just open that we prefer the home this way? (Not that we shouldn’t clean it, but it only needs to be done periodically right?)

    • Absolutely, Dashy. If someone else is doing it for me, I am okay with spotless clean all the time. Else it just does not matter that much to me to keep fussing over it all the time. And let’s admit it, it is boring as hell. Luckily, we can still afford househelp in India for these mundane chores. Yet the incessant organizing just drives me nuts.

  11. I agree completely. Though I like to cook (everyday), clean and organize (occasionally) ; I abhor doing dishes and ironing – that is normally outsourced to my hubby. But that is just how our home unit operates, and everyone must do whatever works for them – there is no right or wrong. And you are right – as we grow older, we don’t really care much about what others think- the best part of growing up, I say!

  12. I am just the opposite, Rachna. I don’t mind the cleaning and organizing, but I hate cooking! Totally hate it! I wouldn’t mind cooking if I had to do it only on weekends, but 7 days a week is a pain! And yes, I don’t think I fit in either!

  13. I was nodding my head while reading this post. I too love cooking, but I do not like cleaning, dusting etc. Thankfully, in India we can have helpers for the same. With a pre-schooler at home, I have almost given up hoping for a spotless house and made peace with a house that’s lived in. Thankfully, I and my husband share responsibilities inside and outside home that includes cooking & cleaning too. 🙂

  14. Happy to note that your husband joins you in taking care of the house. My husband was not doing at the beginning of our marriage, but slowly joined in. We have got maids here and lots of dusts. We don’t see so much dust in the USA.

    As you know I too have got two sons. The elder son used to help a lot but he is abroad now. The younger one has taken over. Thank god, they don’t think that helping at home is a menial job! And I don’t get upset if the house is not spotless all the time!

  15. Oh, it seems you have read many minds, including mine. We all love sparkling clean house but managing it becomes a little difficult (plus we have to read and write and blog and all that, no?)

    I don’t enjoy cooking. I like doing dishes. And, cleaning? With a super-active toddler, you can imagine!

    I know someone close who cleans like a maniac. She’d wipe her stove off god knows how many times while cooking! She keeps her home so clean!

    It’s a feel good post! Thanks for writing this!

  16. Cooking doesn’t interest me until it’s a new exciting recipe. But when it comes to keeping the house clean I have boundless energy.

    Housework is dull. No wonder it’s called chores. I don’t think there’s anyone who enjoys doing it.

  17. Same pinch…. Same pinch :D…. I love cooking too and there are other things I’d rather be doing than cleaning and I have no maids :(…

  18. As the now famous line goes…
    Nothing to add !! :-p

  19. There are a million things that I want to say in response to your post. But I’m afraid it would turn into a series of posts!

    Suffice to say, therefore, that my house is a ‘lived in’ house too. It is entirely uninspiring to me to have a ‘show-case’ home. Imagine the stress of managing a house as perfect as that! My hair would turn yellow in a week!

    As Shabana Azmi said once in an interview, I too have accepted my ‘disinterest’. She happily told the interviewer that she is okay with a bit of cluttered house. If the curtains aren’t washed as often as they ought to be… they aren’t.

    When I’m dead people will not remember me for how clean my house was. They will remember me for the way I touched their lives… and the joy I shared with them.

    So loved this post!

  20. My Parents were on a vacation, this month and I realise I am not a typical home maker either. All that came from my moms need to be organised. If left to me, things would get done on a need to be done basis and nothing more. I love to cook, but only on my own terms. I cannot do it with people telling me how it should be done. That takes out the fun from cooking. So now I have just stoppedtrying to be someone who I am not, The organised, homemaker is my mom not me.

  21. That resounded with me completely. There was a time when I was on a break from job, and I would fret about how clean somebody’s else’s house looked and get into this whole “cleaning fanatic” mode.. while the mood does chance upon from time to time, I realized that I had other things which I considered “more constructive” than wiping dust and grime and putting things in their place all the time. Now, I have just started turning a blind eye to some of these things when I prioritize other work.. It’s easy to be become very obsessed and then frustrated about the whole thing

  22. I am what you can call a ‘preventive’ housekeeper, that is, I try to reduce clutter as I work to save the chore of cleaning up! At home the L&M calls housework ‘unproductive labour.’ Now you know why I don’t have a living room, don’t you? 😀 More seriously, I am one of those people who wants a clean house but not necessarily clutter-free house. For one, it makes a house look like a museum, for another, I don’t believe in killing myself for some appreciation from cleanliness/neatness freaks. But there are THREE most important reasons why I became even more of a lazy housewife and you know them all 🙂

    BTW, I must be the only one from your mother/MIL’s generation in this comment field who is like you 😀

  23. I just loved this post. Hahahahah – there are husbands who are ‘ particular’ how a house looks but will not lift a finger. I’ve seen many of my friends in that predicament. I’m the devil’s advocate who points out what is wrong with this.

  24. I don’t mind organising, dusting, de-cluttering, or even doing dishes etc. But yes for mopping etc I like to have help. I am not so fond of cooking but I do most of it myself (though yesterday’s special Sunday lunch was all prepared by dear hubby, actually he is generally quite a help in the kitchen). I like to keep my home reasonably clean and organised, though I am sure there are many nooks and corners that can use some attention. But there will always be, no space can ever be fully spic and span and completely picture-ready, especially if there are real breathing, living, people living there 🙂

    Ultimately it is all about what one is comfortable with – in our spaces, homes, lives. I have never really bothered about what other women/homemakers thought of my house-keeping skills, and frankly I have never met any women who were such keen observers of every nook and corner of my house. I guess I have lived a sheltered life, eh? 😀

    • Oh some women have laser eyes though l’ve stopped bothering any more. Like you said if living, breathing people inhabit a space, it cannot be spic and span. Besides when you have young children are home, the house looks like a wreck at most times. As a parent, l perfectly understand that. I don’t judge other moms if their houses look less than perfect

  25. Tell me about it 🙂 Since childhood I have a pathological fear of entering too-clean houses; of upending the teacup on that oh-so-pristine tablecloth; of indelibly staining the sofa with my greasy hair (in childhood I did have hair, you know); that list is endless. Give me a house with a lived-in look any day. The too-clean ones look too good to live in 🙂

  26. We shouldn’t take things for granted. I find people having way too many furniture and stuff and huff and puff cleaning those. Too often people get things keeping other people in mind. Keep things that you need for yourself and leave more space in the house. That way cleaning would be easy with more functional space.

  27. Aniket on March 31, 2016 at 2:26 pm said:

    I agree with you Rachana…
    I used not only to clean the house but also well placed…
    I believe a home would be perfect when every thing in the house will be on perfect place…and i think it doesn’t make me a lesser man…

  28. Now I know why I kept this post open in my browser for more than ten days 😛 The title resonates so much to my psyche and the post even more. I agree to each and every single word of this post. This skill of house keeping to keeping the house clean had driven me nuts across years. I am trying to become thick skinned slowly but it manages to eat me up sometimes…Now, I let it go…whoever wants the house to be clean (none other than the husband) has to do it themselves 😛

  29. I get you perfectly. 5 years ago I left my job to become a stay-at-home mom. I did not even feel like calling myself a home maker because I sucked at it. There was nothing I could do right and cooking was my biggest peril. To top that people generally have this orientation – “housewife hai to khana achha banati hogi” and it used to kill me when people invited themselves over lunch and dinners assuming the above statement to be true. 5 years later, I am no better except that I can cook edible food, nothing fancy and i still dread guests coming over meals.

    • I know, Anamika. I see a lot of women point fingers just because some women can’t cook or don’t enjoy cooking. It makes me mad. I can imagine how you feel. It’s just so unfair.

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