It was all I could do to stumble, trapped and incompetent, from stovetop to table all day long. The struggle was too insistent and necessary for a person like me—a person whose home making IQ is well below average—to manage with ease.
But now, three years after taking up full-time homemaking, I can say with some degree of certainty that my kitchen is fine. The dishes are done! The floor is swept! I cook edible things! People vocalize yummy sounds over what I serve!
Wanna know how it happened? One freaking dead mouse under the refrigerator at a time.
But more about the dead things later. If I were savvy and svelte, I might gloss up the story of my Cinderella kitchen and sell it to you at $15 an e-copy. As it is, I’m just going to spill my secret: persistence. That’s it. I don’t have a cleaning schedule, a meal plan, a codependent crock pot, or a magical soap scraped from the left flank of a dragon. What I have is a family that needs to eat and a brain that learns from its mistakes and enough time in a day to plot the fastest route between point A and point B. I still have some distance to cover before I’m “yummo,” but I’ve got the beasts in the kitchen tamed and at my heels. Down, Dracula, you ridiculous idiot; I’m baking here.
So what’s it to you? Well, if you’re already some incarnation of Hestia, nothing. But if you’re a homemaking refugee, I’m here to tell you that if I can make my own tortillas, keep the sink from smelling bad, and do preventative scrubbing behind the refrigerator, so can you. And you really don’t need to buy a book, apron, or indulgence from that woman who insists, with probably truth, that she has it all together. So what if she has it all together? If Mrs. Together was apprenticed to a master homemaker in her childhood, if homemaking is in her blood, then her daughters are in luck but that’s about it. Or if Super Woman managed to fight off her personal household demons hour by carefully scheduled hour, then good for her; she killed her own slothfulness and ignorance with so many silver bullets. Of what use is her packaged system to you? You aren’t going to be working in her house. You knead, scrub, slice, and cry in your own house, and you are smart, strong, and sensitive enough to figure out how to keep that house in order on your terms, to your standards, using your own methods. With every failure you learn, and with every success your household becomes that much better.
Forget all those imposed ideas of Happy Home. Build your own happy home, and do it this way:*
- Pray for strength, patience, and perspective. And when you want to dump supper directly on the floor and yell, “Good luck eating THAT! I’m going to drink a few mimosas . . .” pray again.
- Eat. For crying out loud.
- Take each day as it comes: break what needs breaking, boil what needs boiling, punch what needs punching, and you’ll be fine.
- Laugh. The exercise of homemaking is really funny, when you stop to think about it. Don’t take the dust balls so personally.
- Take it one room at a time; you don’t need to have every corner free of monsters in order to get through a day. If your kitchen is out of control, forget the kids’ closets for a year and work on the kitchen. If your laundry room gives you the creeps, forget about the basement and work on the laundry room. Take it easy, and keep your focus. The neglected rooms will still give you fits, but bide your time, examine your methods, establish your criteria, and you’ll get around to rooting out your troubles.
- Remember that the cheapest option is the best option; i.e. don’t buy new storage bins for all that junk, get rid of the junk. Or go ahead and buy the storage bins. What do I know about it?
- White vinegar. Wow, that stuff is versatile.
Stakes at the ready, girls—it’s time to kick some homemaking tuckus. Now that my kitchen is secure, I feel like giving some laundry the stink eye. Talk to me in another three years, and I’ll let you know how it all turns out.
*Or don't. Now send me $15.