You've Come a Long Way, Baby
Sometimes, I just want my kids to fake it.
I don't know if it's called "manners" in other families or what, but yesterday, when the guard at the Cloisters asked my son not to touch a 900 year old fountain from France because it will not withstand many cleanings and said, "I know your mom cleans all the time at home, but we have to be careful with things that are very old," I would have liked my son to nod thoughtfully, reflecting his understanding rather than blink rapidly and cock his head to the side a la the RCA dog mascot.
Of course, perhaps the guard thought that he had stunned my son with the antiquity and history of the piece he was pawing, but I know better. Because I am not a mom who cleans. And that's ok with me, as long as my kids don't announce it to the world.
Many years ago, before I saw the light in the shape of Husbandrinka, I dated a man who had the world's most fantastic mother. She was glamorous, talented and interesting. I desperately wanted her to like me and I decided that the best way to endear myself to her was to lie as much as possible so as not to reveal my true personality.
Sometimes my boyfriend and I took weekend trips with his parents and his mom and I shared the back seat. She would ask me questions, like did I want to be rich and famous? "No," I lied, "I want to do something meaningful." She laughed. For a long time.
One time she asked me if I liked to clean. "Like it?" I shrieked in a way that I assume cult members are trained to when a new convert appears. "It gives me a deep sense of satisfaction. I especially love ironing." That addition was especially precious since I did not then, nor do I now, own an iron.
"That's good," she said. "Because I never cared for it and find it a waste of time. But you're lucky if you actually enjoy it."
You would think that it would be easy to say, "I hate it, too! We're practically soul mates!" at that point and not sound out of your fucking mind, but you would be wrong.
But I did learn not to be ashamed about hating to clean and to pay someone to do it, just as soon as I could afford to. And although I never regretted one cent that I paid towards freeing myself from housework, there are times when I feel like I'm not domestic enough, and that my very femininity is at stake. Generally, I shrug it off, but the confusion in my son's eyes this weekend when the guard said "your mother cleans all the time" gave me pause. Not enough to take over the cleaning, of course, I'm not completely out of my mind. But pause.
And seriously, Cloister guy? Whatever happened to, "don't touch that thing, you rotten kid!"? No further explanation necessary.