That’s the sound of the Mom (HUH!) workin’ on the chain…. gaaa-eee-aaang….

Had myself a little breakdown last night after The Boy spilled his blue coconut slushy all over the freezer, down the front of the fridge, under the fridge, and all over the kitchen floor. Jebus, it was pathetic. I was crying hysterically, yelling at ALL my kids with my squeaky laryngitis voice, calling them animals and “screaming” that I was tired of being treated WORSE than a maid, and no one does shit to help me, etc.

It took me about 45 minutes of cleaning (and crying) to clean up that sticky mess, and the fridge door and the floor STILL have sticky spots. The children wisely stayed upstairs with their doors closed during this whole tirade.  I can kind of chuckle now about how I screamed like a petulant 4-year-old throwing a tantrum: “That’s IT! We are NEVER getting slushies AGAIN! EVER!”  and “I am so sick of this SHIT, no one cares about me and you and your FATHER treat me like a FUCKING MAID….”

After everything was less sticky and blue, I had to throw dinner on the table, 45 minutes late. If there was ever a time that I was LESS interested in making sure my kids were fed, I don’t know when it would be.  I was so angry and upset I was willing to let them go without supper.

And go without me for a while, for that matter.  For the first time since I was 13, I actually felt like running away from home.  All this over a spilled slushy, you might ask? Drama queen, you might say.  This was just a backlog of SHIT that finally broke the dam.  I had been sick all the previous week, and with my best friend Theresa’s visit pending, I was frantically cleaning the house, trying to make it presentable, rather than have it look like a pack of wild, rabid hoarders lived here.  It was during this cleaning that I realized how far gone the house really was, and I castigated myself for letting it get that bad.

Did anyone actually ever see Alice do ANY housework?

But then I realized how it got that bad.  I work 2 part time jobs, and still consider myself a SAHM. One of my jobs I do in the home, the other I do in my “free time”, which means on the weekends when spouse is home to watch the kids.  I do housework when I can, which means maybe an hour here, 15 minutes there, and that is not including “regular” chores like dishes, laundry, walking the dog. I am talking about vacuuming, scrubbing toilets, cleaning windows, etc.

And, I do 98% of the housework BY MYSELF.  No one helps. I can’t remember the last time someone other than ME vacuumed, mopped, scrubbed a bathtub or a toilet, or even folded clothes or made a dinner that didn’t come out of a box or from a fast food place.  The dishwasher could be standing open, empty, waiting for dirty dishes, and EVERYONE will just pile their dirty dishes up in the sink, under the assumption that I will do it, I guess. That it is somehow MY responsibility.  You’re maybe thinking “Crazy bitch should MAKE her family help!”, but I have begged, pleaded, bribed, asked, threatened and demanded help.  I get whining and crying from the kids, and nothing from the spouse. Or one hour of frenzied “helping” from the spouse that involves busy work, like cleaning out the cabinets under the bathroom sink, while dishes sit in the sink and there is a 6 foot tall laundry monster taking over the hallway.

When Theresa, the other half of Valium, visited, I at least had the common areas picked up, but I showed her my shame too- the messy office and master bedroom. Of course I was mortified, and stammered apology after apology.  Theresa (around whom I never feel like I have to apologize or be anyone but me) laughed and said, “Honey! Don’t apologize! You are a slob! Like ME!”  My subconscious chewed on that for a bit, and then I had a realization. I am NOT a slob.  I grew up in slobby conditions as a child, and I swore I would NEVER live that way again.  And yet, here I am.  How did I get here?

I'm more Alice the Goon than Alice from The Brady Bunch.

I will tell you.  I am one person picking up and cleaning up after 4 people who don’t do anything to clean up after themselves, other than the bare minimum.  The ONLY person.  Do the math.  It is impossible.  IMPOSSIBLE. And yet, everyday I try. I try to balance work, the kids, the dog, the bills, the husband, and the housework, and I fail. Miserably.

The thing is, there are women out there who do all this too, and STILL manage to have a neat house. How do they DO that?  Am I somehow deficient? Lazy? I think maybe the hour or so I spend a day on Facebook is probably time better spent cleaning.  That maybe I go to the bathroom too many times a day, and I could spend that extra few minutes cleaning.  That maybe I could clean the shower while I take a shower, mop the kitchen floor as I make dinner, or fold clothes while I am on the crapper. I mean, I have two hands, right?  Maybe get up a couple of hours earlier (my son would probably hear me though, and get up with me, thereby defeating the purpose of getting up while everyone else is still sleeping), or use that couple of hours after the kids go to bed for housework.  I will admit, the prospect of spending the few hours I have to myself on housecleaning depresses me. I mean, am I doomed to an existence of servitude to other people? When did I cease to be a person, and become “this”? I would say maid, but at least a maid is paid for her services. My family couldn’t AFFORD to pay me for all the shit I do.

Consuela got paid. Why don't I?

There has to be more to being a wife and mother than this.  There has to be more than resentment, anger, and sadness.  Look, I KNOW my family loves me. And I love them and wouldn’t trade them for the world.  But when did it become the wife/mom’s job to do EVERYTHING?


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18 Responses to That’s the sound of the Mom (HUH!) workin’ on the chain…. gaaa-eee-aaang….

  1. Marla says:

    Strumming my pain with your fingers, blogging my life with your words, killing me softly with your blog, killing me softly….

  2. Robin says:

    Wow , our lives could be mirror images! i tried to keep up with everything until I hit pure exhaustion. I’ve learned to keep the major disasters cleaned up and live with small things. My kids have always been lazy little shits that wouldn’t do anything. It seemed like no matter what I did or took away didn’t matter to them. So, know I give them one chore at a time. i do not give them a deadline, I just let them know that they can not go anywhere of have any friends over until it is finished. At first this was more a punishment for me than them, but its amazing how quickly they can accomplish something once they miss a party or an opportunity to go somewhere that they would enjoy. And about the temper tantrum. Been there done that!! Don’t beat your self up over all of this. Very few of us are another June Cleaver (thank god!). And ALWAYS find time for yourself, without that we forget who we really are. Lots of love.

    • Kerstin says:

      I have found giving them ONE thing at a time works best too, with both kids AND the spouse! And each kid has a task- 1 picks up dirty laundry, one picks up books, one picks up dolls, etc. I also give them a time-frame. For example, pick up for 20 minutes, and they can take a 10 minute break (but only if they have made progress). It helps make the task not so insurmountable.

  3. Rachael says:

    This same scenario just occurred at my house last night while I was cleaning up spilled milk for the 2nd time this week already while my 3 kids enjoyed one of their favorite meal for dinner. My 7-year-old felt so guilty after my 5-minute or so long vent about being the family’s maid that she managed to pipe up sheepishly with “It looks like you need some help with the chores, mama!” and my response was “Yep, you guys treat me like a slave!” and then 5 or so minutes later she says “I think I might be interested in doing the whole daily chore list for allowance again!”. Really!? You THINK you MIGHT be interested in helping out for MONEY!?!? NOT what I want to hear right now! How about you go clean up your pig-stye of a room and wipe down your nasty bathroom sink for FREE right now (why? because I told you too dammit.) and never say anything again about how you MIGHT want to help our your mother IF she pays you while I’m in the midst of a panic attack/temper tantrum when your father out of town on business and cannot rescue your little ass!!!!!! AAAAAHHHHHHHH! Most thankless job ever but I do love them and I really love that there are lots of other mothers out there in blog land writing about the exact same feelings! Thank you for this, it was perfect timing. I will now let go of the guilt from being the worst mother ever for throwing a temper tantrum in front of my children during our “family meal”.

    • Kerstin says:

      You are a good Mom, Rachel. We have what we call “family” chores which are the things we do to help the family, like watch little brother so I can work, wash the dinner dishes, etc. Then we have the “extras” which are money-earning chores. Pulling weeds, helping me with my “work from home” job etc. Kids need to learn that family members work together to help because they are a family! Not just because they are getting yelled at, or because they are getting paid.

  4. Val says:

    Where were you when I was a sahm???? My kids are grown but I needed friends like you then. My “baby” is 28 and I have 3 grand kids now.

    • Kerstin says:

      LOL! Oh I am sure there were other Moms like me out there back then, but there were no interwebz so everyone could share their stories and their pain!!

  5. Lisa says:

    truer words have never been spoken.

  6. Natalie says:

    My daughter had been through at least 4 imaginary friends in her life. We once had this conversation:

    Her: I have a boyfriend. He has a job.
    Me: Oh?
    Her: Yes. His name is Steve. He washes dishes.
    Me: That’s a good job.
    Her: Yep! And he wipes his own butt!

  7. Natalie says:

    And from my older child (13 at the time)…

    I was on the phone with a friend talking about bitter foods. I said “I can’t really come up with any bitter foods that I like,” and then looked around the corner to my son and said “Hey, what’s bitter?” His response… “Coffee. Walnuts. Old women.”

  8. I think the people who have imacculate house are boring. They don’t have any outside interests and are obsessed with cleaning. They need medication. Or they have spent days cleaning before you come over or they have a cleaning lady. My kids help some but its like pulling teeth. I have found most homes look “lived in”. I am sure it was easier years ago when people didn’t have so much stuff. I will admit that I could spend more time cleaning. But why? so in 5 minutes the kids and my headache, Opps I mean my husband can come home and throw their shit all over the place. There just isn’t enough time in the day. And you know what? I don’t freaking care! My hubby grew up in an immaculate house. All Smother-in-law did is cook and clean. She had one kid. She doesn’t read or do anything else. My mom always worked and had a pretty clean house. But she only had one kid home (me). Anyone who can do it all is lying. My sanity is worth more than a clean fridge.

  9. Abby says:

    As a close friend of mine says: “Life is about priorities. A clean house is a priority. It just happens to be a very, very low priority. A happy family with good experiences kind of rises above that”. It’s ok to get mad, brood on it for a moment or 10, then move the hell on and remember what a good mom you are!

  10. Nancy says:

    I have some of the exact same problems with my brood of four. It really is all in how you react- the swiftness of how fast you let the hammer drop makes all the difference in the world. I’ve cut out giving chances. The either do exactly what I tell them to do– and do it RIGHT– the first time (!!!!)– or simply enough, the lose every privilege they currently enjoy, up to and including, but not limited to, computer, TV, friends, ipods, phone privileges (we don’t allow them cell phones yet, even though- heaven forbid- my oldest is 12), etc. They are expected to do certain chores every day and others every week. I still do the majority of the dirty work (like bathrooms- cause no one can ever seem to get them up to my standards), and my house is far from spotless- or even half organized and not cluttered up most days, and I usually have no less than 15 loads of laundry piled up waiting for me most days because at most I might average 2 loads a day. I’ve learned not to stress over housework. My parents are the world’s biggest neat-freaks. They still come to my house and insist on cleaning every second they are here from the time they walk in the door. My philosophy has always been “A clean house is a sign of a wasted life”… Don’t sweat the small (or even big stuff)… It too shall pass :)

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