Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Holy Marigold(s)

It's 7pm on the day I gave up housework to see how that might affect my writing life...and it's a monumental disaster, people. I thought that if I stopped mopping the floor or hanging up the washing I'd maybe free up the odd minute for my book - okay, that was a bit optimistic considering the fact that I have a 2 year old at home full-time and that any time he sees I'm not occupied (and, no, typing on my laptop does not count as 'occupied' in his eyes) he says all too sweetly: "Would you like to meet my game?" but I had this fantasy that giving up housework would leave me feeling lively and refreshed at the end of each day and ready to devote my evenings to the novel without feeling as lacking in inspiration as a wrung out J-cloth.

I am exhausted.

The day started well - instead of coming back after the nursery-school-run to get on with chores, I took The Boy out for a babyccino. That was nice. Not exactly 'relaxing' (the babyccino came with a tiny teddy biscuit that was missing an ear...The Boy went nuts about the asymmetry, even when I suggested that we call the bear Van Gogh) but definitely more fun than stacking the dishwasher.

We did the shopping. I was still feeling kinda reckless - the breakfast things were still out for god's sake! - and felt sure I'd be raring to go on the novel by the time I'd put the children to bed.

But it was just after I'd made lunch for three children and sat down for a sarnie myself when the itch started...no, not the lice again, I wanted to DO something. I knew the children wouldn't let me write (noise I can deal with but hanging off my arms is a struggle) so I decided to...make 24 savoury muffins and some puff pastry pizzas. Oh my GOD! What was I thinking?? It was 28 degrees today and there I was sweating away in the kitchen, pouring hot butter all over my right boob (not for fun, I might add) and creating an almighty mess. I told myself I was just testing my anti-housework-powers to the max - ha, I'm not gonna clean you up! I sneered at the kitchen, now sticky with muffin dough.

Then the goods were baked and I knew I had to get out of there before I started cleaning. "Come on! We're going swimming!" I announced. And then I pushed the children and the towels in the misshapen Phil n Teds about 3km uphill to the pool. Did I mention it was 28 degrees? Right, so by the time we had our swim, walked 3km home, and gorged on savoury muffins and puff pastry pizzas, I felt WORSE than I feel after a bog-standard day of housework and childcare. Disaster!

I looked around at the house - bits of paper everywhere, toys-toys-toys, a swarm of ants on a stray bit of muffin crumb, clothes, dishes, aarghhhhh! I couldn't bear it! And yet I had The Experiment to consider, so I casually picked up a couple of things, hoping I wouldn't notice, hoping it wouldn't count. I tried to rope the children in; they tried, they really did (especially when I paid them in gingerbread) but it was no good, I HAD TO GET IN THERE! Before I knew it, the floor was completely clear and I had to admit to myself that I had failed. FAILED not to do HOUSEWORK!

Am I sick?

All I know is that I'm completely knackered and that The Australian is about to walk in from work expecting an almighty mess...and I've got nothing to show for my efforts but a fairly large quantity of savoury picnic treats.

Reader, somehow, without my noticing it, I have become a bit more Van Der Kamp than I intended. I thought I was Scavo! Or, at the very least, Mayer. Tell me there's a cure.

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CarolineG said...

Emily I had no idea of these OCD tendencies. I bet you're the sort of person who, shudder, IRONS everything [including pants]. I'm not sure our friendship can continue, frankly.

Emily Gale said...

No no NOOOOO! I honestly NEVER iron. Ever. It's always been a firm policy. And I've always thought of myself as in the Fairly Relaxed club when it comes to housework... I think I am having some control issues... Please be my friend!

Sapph said...

I told my partner about this post, and how brilliant I am at ignoring the housework, and he pointed out that, actually, he does it all. Oh, dear.

I think ants would spur me into houseworkly action, though.

Such a shame you couldn't bring your Polish cleaner from London to Oz with you.

Sasch said...

I can confirm that Em has probably never willingly owned an iron.

That said - WTF!??! Filling every cleaning-free moment to create chaos instead was possibly not the aim woman!

If cleaning the kitchen will make you less likely to batch cook muffins etc then I say screw The Experiment - the Deliaesque 50s housewife thing is more damaging long term. Think of what the Australian (and kids) will come to expect?!


sam court said...

Call me cynical, but baking IS housework, you ninny.

Emily Gale said...

Sam, I'm gonna have to pull you up on a technicality there - baking for purely recreational purposes doesn't count as housework. There was no need for the muffins, therefore they were more like Art than domestic necessity. Thanks, though, for your contribution.

Sasch, consider Experiment II abandoned.

Sapph, I did have a cleaner until we moved to the new, smaller house. It's not so much the cleaning I loathe as the endless picking up of toys. Ah! Maybe that's the answer! Destroy all toys? Experiment III?

Fionnuala Kearney said...

From Van Gogh to Van Der Kamp in one post - LOVE it! x

CarolineG said...

I read 'muffins' as 'muffians' then and wondered if they were cakes that kicked the shit out of you when you tried to eat them.