I think its safe to say us women are pretty much ruined by that homemaker hidden within each of us. My life was going fine as long as I was living under the wing of another woman. You know, someone who’s already given in to the circumstances of keeping a home, caring for family and generally holding fort. First my mom, and then my mother in law. Both sticklers for the way they manage and keep their homes. Somehow things just got done. Laundry cycles would just fall into place effortlessly. These was always food cooked at home. Someone to sow a button on, someone to offer a home remedy for acne, someone to help you spring clean. I’d get by doing a little bit here and there. Pitching in, in the kitchen. Lending a hand with some handiwork. Participating in family activities. It was always easy to slip back into my non-domestic ways. After all I did think housework was utterly dull and mindless. I went so far as to think it was beneath me. Quite naturally the thought of living on my own did give me the creeps. To think I’d have to do all that and more, all on my own. My gosh.
Things were peachy with my domestic instincts cropping up every now and then when the situation demanded it. Like when my mother would go out of town and leave me in charge of the home. Or when I needed to clean up my room right before Diwali. I’d willingly, temporarily step out of my comfort zone and step into womanly shoes, perform duties as expected of me. I was happy to be the woman in charge for short bursts of time. Like I said, peachy.
Apparently, living on your own and having your own home on the other hand calls for home-maker instincts of an all new level. Before you know it, the damage is done. The domestic monster within takes over and ruins you.
For someone who didn’t even know these skills and tendencies existed within me, I’ve realised that I possess them in copious amounts. I have scaled heights I didn’t know I could. And even though I have promised to get a life and chill out, I do have my moments (okay, days) of weakness. When I give into the domestic me completely. The results are, well, pretty on the outside. But on the inside, the story is an exhausting one. Of trying to keep up with some very unrealistic standards I’ve set for myself. Of maintaining a spotless home. Of having a stocked kitchen, ensuring we eat relatively healthy meals as often as we can. The whole home-maker’s nine yards. Everything that’s expected of a woman. And here, I mean what my instincts expect of me and push me to do. Nobody around me really cares, least of all the husband, if the the house is messy or if we’re ordering take out 10 times a week. I’m the one that sets expectations and unreal levels of orderliness around me.
So last weekend, in a frenetic tussle to set my home right in time for Diwali, I decide it was time for an overhaul of sorts. There I was in the centre of my kitchen. Dabbas of all shapes and sizes collapsing in heaps around me. One wet cloth, one dry cloth, one scrubber, a lot of soap and plenty of energy to go with. When the kitchen was done I moved form one room to the next. Dusting, taking down curtains, changing sheets and pillow covers. Getting down on my knees, sweeping, resweeping and mopping. Four loads of laundry, many hours of scrubbing and rearranging later, I realized my arms hurt and my back felt like it needed a break.
What is it about being a woman that makes one automatically attuned to these things? Okay, I’ll admit, what I have just described is probably not the norm, but I’ve seen women around me care about their homes and their surroundings too. What makes us naturally inclined to keeping things in order? To managing our environment and ensuring that things work are spic and span, working the way they’re meant to? Biological, cultural and psychological reasons may abound. But ask me, and I’ll say its a bloody curse. That’s what it is.
I promise this is going to be the last post about my cleaning antics. Because God knows, even I can’t bear to obsess about it anymore.