Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Domestic Agenda


For the past two months, my parents have been zooming around in their little, red sedan on some sort of “Oh, Screw It, We’re Retired” road trip. And now, after crisscrossing the country and visiting every tourist attraction from North Dakota to New Orleans, they’re here. In Austin. At my house. For three weeks.

Dear God.

Because while I love my parents dearly, I’m freaked out big time that they’re staying in my home. Not because they’re demanding guests or anything like that. They’re not at all. In fact, besides their bizarre devotion to “According to Jim” and Cheez-Its, they’re great to have around. No, the real reason I’m a nervous wreck is because I want them to finally see that, at age 40, I’m fully capable of running a household. All by myself.

My lack of domestic ability has been the big family joke for most of my life. Every time I’ve moved into a new house or apartment, my parents’ favorite thing to do is to ask whether my new stove is gas or electric, then laugh their heads off when I don’t know the answer. (Once, I didn’t even know where the stove was.) My mother patiently taught me all of the household things she herself did so effortlessly, but for some reason, it didn’t take. I tried sewing and pinned my garment to the floor. I tried craft making and maimed myself with a pipe cleaner. I tried making smoothies and forgot to put the lid on the blender. And of course, my cooking is so disastrous that it’s already sent me to the emergency room. Twice.

Basically, I’m Susie Homemaker with a head injury.

That’s why, when my parents said they were visiting, I decided it was time to turn over a new leaf. Time to get my shit together and embrace my inner housefrau. After all, how hard could this homemaking crap be? I’m smart. I’m educated. I’m not usually that drunk during the day. And so began my intense campaign of wiping, scrubbing and organizing absolutely everything in our four-bedroom house. After five days, I was exhausted and my hands looked like they belonged to an arthritic, 80 year-old cannery worker. But my house, my house was immaculate. Not even a crack CSI team with a boatload of black lights could have found a single, lousy fingerprint. I was ready.

My parents arrived and everything was going well. They seemed impressed with the new management and even complimented me on my matching towels and the non-expired milk in the fridge. But it wasn’t long before my mom asked me, somewhat dubiously, if I had an ironing board she could use. Now, of course, if my husband ever had the balls to ask me to iron one of his shirts, I’d be laughing too hard to throw the dry cleaning coupons at him, but I'd prepared for this moment. “Why, of course I have an ironing board!” I happily chirped, and skipped over to the broom closet where I pulled out my newly purchased ironing board with a flourish. “I keep it right here, so I can get to it easily when I need to press my cloth napkins!” Then I casually leaned over and, with one finger, whipped the sucker open just like I was one of the aging showcase models on The Price is Right. "Ta-da!"

My mom looked at the ironing board and seemed a little surprised. And, I think, a little proud, too. Like maybe her daughter wasn’t going to burn the house down after all. I smiled smugly and made a mental note to check out Craigslist later, just in case Martha Stewart was hiring slightly chubby household experts in our area.

Then suddenly, Jack bombed into the room, took one look at the ironing board and yelled at the top of his lungs, “WHAT THE HECK’S THAT THING, MOMMY?”

I glanced sideways at my mom and chuckled nervously. “Oh, come on, silly! That’s the ironing board! You know that!”

He walked up and gingerly touched it, then quickly pulled back his hand and screamed,“No, I’ve NEVER seen THAT thing before!”

My mom was now covering her mouth with her hands and it looked like her entire body had begun to shake, but I tried my best to ignore her. “Sure you have, Jack!” I persisted. “You know mommy uses this when she irons out the wrinkles in your clothes!”

He looked down at his khaki pants. “But I thought you said that wrinkles make our clothes more interesting and that if we have a problem with it, mister, we can just go stand in the bathroom when daddy’s taking a shower or something.”

Raising my voice so I could be heard over the little squeaks that were now coming out of my mom, I gave him a stern look and said, “No, I didn’t Jack. Do...you...understand?”

“OK, whatever, lady,” he muttered, then walked out of the room shaking his head like somebody who's desperately counting the days until he turns 18.

“Sorry about that, mom!” I said, as she dabbed frantically at her eyes. “I don’t know WHY he said that. But you know how whacko 5 year-olds are! I mean, he still thinks chickens can talk! Now, would you like some spray starch or would you prefer to use just plain water? Personally, I find that starch works much better on permanent press, but…”

And then 7 year-old Sam ran into the room, stopped dead in his tracks and, pointing at my brand-new, shiny ironing board, screamed, “Wow! What’s THAT thing? A surfboard on legs? Did Grandma bring it here? Can I RIDE on it?” And at that moment, as I watched my belly-laughing mom gasp for air, I realized that
I'm probably never going to become a domestic goddess. Or a domestic wenchess. Or even someone who actually keeps vegetables in their vegetable crisper. So that's why I've decided to turn in my featherduster and just go ahead and buy another fire extinguisher, already. I think it's for the best.

But, just for the record, I'm pretty sure my stove is electric.






49 comments:

Melissa said...

I hate it when my mom comments on my homemaking skills, but for a different reason. Her house actually looks like one of the clean house shows, but the before. And then she has the nerve to criticize me? Puh-leeze.

Lady Weasel said...

Don't feel bad, Wendy. I've had my ironing board for almost 5 years and it's still in it's original packaging.

Lisa Too said...

Busted! Yep. Nothing like 5- and 7-year-olds in the household to keep you honest. About everything.

Marinka said...

Why are your children such liars?

hokgardner said...

So last summer, in a desperate attempt to entertain my children for an hour or so, I bought thousands of those freaking perler beads, you know the ones you iron and they fuse together. Or maybe your boys aren't into those. Anyway. I pulled out the iron from the back of the closet, and my oldest looked at it and asked, "What does that thing do?"

If my husband wants his shirts ironed, he takes them to the dry cleaners. For everything else, we wear it wrinkled or use the wonderful stuff that you spray on the clothing and the wrinkles sort of disappear.

KT said...

Ironing is SO over-rated. I'm just saying that when I got 36 hours notice that the baby I was about to have was actually two babies and my crack smoking dr. had somehow missed that second bonus baby over the last 36 weeks of grueling prenatal care (yes, twins born at 41 weeks - sweet Jesus), the first thing that was scratched off my list of things to do for the rest of my life was ironing.

So, I have a lovely iron. It hangs on the door of the closet over the ironing board. I say hello when I open said closet to get my never ironed sheet. If my mom wore anything other than a lovely velor track suit, she might just care.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Our ironing board would not even be here if it weren't for my husband. And, the only time I use the iron is to heat up some bead craft the kids like to do.

But, next time, you need to muzzle the kids.

Ducksoop said...

How funny! Loved the post Wendy. And now I'm off to see if I happen own an iron and ironing board, and if so, will start family orientation classes in the morning.

MadMad said...

Hahahaha! At a playdate once, my daughter asked the hostess what a BROOM was - so I totally hear ya'. Housecleaning is for the birds!

the mama bird diaries said...

Girl, it's going to be a long 3 weeks. Hang in there.

Betsy said...

Funniest thing I have read all day.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Luckily - I am more or less exactly like my mom when it comes to things domestic. She is of course better at everything, but neither of us love the whole homemaking thing. We're very good at ignoring dust.

bernthis said...

I have been washing and putting the same set of sheets back on my bed for months b/c although i have two other sets and could make the bed while washing the other set, I have clue how to fold the freakin bottom sheet and I can't take the feeling of utter failure when I do. Props to you for trying

Amy said...

LMAO- Love it! I actually asked dad who was cooking when they were there...you or Mom. When he told me you....I was like...really? Just naturally thought Mom would have been doing the cooking. Don't be mad! Love ya!

Kylie w Warszawie said...

My house looks so much better than my dad's house that he can never comment on my homemaking skills. AND whenever I visit, I cook all the meals, so he usually requests something that I've made before.

I'm, um, not bragging. I'm just kind of stupid.

Belle said...

Tumbledry. Everything. All the time. I don't even have an iron, never mind a bloody board. They take up so much space.

Mama Monkey said...

My kids DO know what an ironing board is ... it's the place where you collect all that random clutter that ends up in the back hallway and no one knows what to do with it. I LOVE your blog. Thanks for starting my day with a laugh!

Candi said...

That was just too funny!! I have a sister-in-law that is just like you - no domestic skills whatsoever, but we all love her anyway.

Love your blog!

*Akilah Sakai* said...

I do not aspire to be a domestic goddess, but wenchess is calling my name big time!

Damn kids and their big freakin' mouths! Remember how we couldn't wait for their 1st word, 2nd, and so on?!

My 2 kids not only talk too much, but they like to make shit up! One told my mother-in-law that they don't take baths when she tried to bathe them (oh the horror!) and another didn't feel good and for some insane reason decided to tell my sister-in-law that I said tight panties cause belly aches. WTF?!

Excuse me sir, what aisle are your kiddie muzzles in?

omnidudemeandthebean said...

This was hilarious. I absolutely loved it. Whenever my mother visits I spend 4 - 5 days cleaning like a mad woman. By the time she arrives she needs the one thing I hid so well I can't find it. This demonstrates that I clean with the "shove everything in the closet and hope the duct tape holds" method.

Kimberly said...

I learned a trick from that movie "Persuit of Happiness", when the kids start to talk, pretend like you were just stung by a bee.

But, then again... sounds like you would have to get stung by alot of bees so maybe that wouldn't work.

:)-

KT's Mama said...

I USED to clean the house like a madwoman before my parents came to visit, but now with a kid it's just hopeless. It's gotten to the point that I just say "well, we've just been soooo busy lately . . ." when in reality, it's just futile. The second I get it cleaned up, the other two humans in the house make it look worse than it did before. I give up!!!! At least I know where the iron is . . . it's in the closet ready to fall on my foot the second I decide to get the vacuum out. So guess who doesn't vacuum?

I LOVE your blog! I can't tell you how many times my secretary has come into my office while I'm laughing my #$$ off! Keep it up!

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

That is great. I didn't own an ironing board until my parents stayed here for four months after their house sold, but before their new home was finished. Apparently my mom thought she was doing us a service by leaving hers here. I am not sure if its a service or not, since I haven't touched it since the day it was placed in my laundry room. That was 1 year and seven months ago.

jamey r said...

my 8 year old son walked into my room last night and told me never to put a frozen chicken in hot oil, (i shit you not) ...he saw some guys do it on tv and it exploded. i laughed towards you and asked him to bring mommy her wine glass.

Jenny Vee said...

i did not own an ironing board until i married into one. and i made my husband promise that if i ever needed anything ironed (which has happened once in seven years of marriage), he would do it.

i've also inherited my mother's culinary skills, although i have not yet prepared her "salad" for my own children: a slab of iceberg lettuce smeared with miracle whip that you eat like a slice of buttered bread. but only because the baby is allergic to what's in the miracle whip.

lisa said...

I got my ironing board at Goodwill. I have yet to get the iron.

Momma B said...

Very good show you Un Domestic Goddess you!

HoodChick said...

Great story. Next time save yourself the hand cramps and pay someone to come in and clean. Preferably when you're kids aren't around so they can't rat you out.

pat said...

Duhhhhhh..ironing is against ALL rules...

Sandra said...

Hysterical!!!! I laughed out loud.

Does this mean you're going to entertain us with Mom & Dad visit stories?! I hope so!

Annje said...

Too funny! Ironing is the most useless of domestic duties. I don't have an ironing board. I do have an iron that I have used exactly once in 9 years (hello? 1) wrinkles=style and 2)when absolutely necessary, that's what dryers and wet cloths are for). Oh and if my hubby ever even hinted that I should iron something for him--laughing my a$$ off would be the nice way to go, but I might try a little shin-kick.

Cassie said...

LOL! Love it!

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

SHE'S BACK!

Well, I loved your New Year's Resolution post but this is classic WA!

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

One of my little weasels told her Sunday School teacher (who had beautiful nails), that I didn't like long nails because they make it hard to wipe! they poke through the TP and poke my tender parts.

Her teacher thought that was important and she thought she could give me tp tips--at CHURCH! She really thought I had personal cleansing issues?

I told my daughter that I didn't want acrylic nails because it was hard to TYPE.
Geesh.

susan said...

Longish time reader, firstish time (I think, but I didn't go back to check) commenter delurking today because it's delurking day...

You never fail to crack me up! BTW, I hear that the housefrau uniform is unbearable itchy, so you're probably just as well off.

katy (aka funny girl) said...

"Basically, I’m Susie Homemaker with a head injury."

Me too.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

One time when my boys were little we were watching TV (well, we did that often) and there was some goofy commercial where a woman was mopping the floor (and smiling while she was doing it. WTF?). My older son looked at me and asked, "What IS she doing?"

I just shook my head in wonder with them.

Lnearth said...

This. Is. The. Best.

Tracy said...

Very funny!! My mom taught home economics. She remains amazed that, at 41, I still don't know how to set the table. When she's here, she freezes meals for the kids . . . so they won't starve, I think.

Please tell your folks that you have heeded a higher calling: making us laugh/cheering us up/making our day.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

This one's a classic!

Jonny's Mommy said...

Yeah, my parents enjoy commenting on my domestic skills too. They try to say they aren't nagging, but come one...like I can't figure it out. It's usually a nag or two on the condition of my car, which I used to live out of while I worked at a small town paper. It has gotten a little better, but I still cringe anytime they ask if they can ride with me somewhere, knowing they will find something to nit-pick about.

rightonmom said...

Oh goodie, another domestically impaired mama.
I broke a nail last time trying to open my ironing board and that was the end of that silly contraption.

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Maybe you could hire a housekeeper while she's there and tell your mother that you don't NEED to know these things because you hire it all out because you've got way more important things to worry about.

Like the plight of endangered species. Or something.

Charmaine said...

I see no harm if refusing to become a domestic goddess.

Hire someone once a week. Lord have mercy, it's worth it.

Sharon said...

Last month we had a cleaning lady come because the house was out of control and my husband was afraid that I would walk out the door and keep walking. So she came in, looked through the whole house top to bottom, came back downstairs, looked me squarely in the eyes and said "I'll have to charge you more, there's so much dust"

Queen Goob said...

LMAO.....you'll love this. So I'm staying with my mom as she recovers from hip replacement surgery and after loading the dishwasher she told me to start it up.

I looked at her with that deer in the headlights look and whimpered with fear. I had no idea how a dishwasher works.

I'm 43.

CSymons said...

LOVED IT!!! Was sent over by Queen Goob (she ROCKS)! Don't you just LOVE children?!?!?! When planning on keeping something to yourself, they tend to screw things up ROYALLY, don't they? My revenge? Something kinda like Queenies...but instead of dressing up like Braveheart...I let Hubby dance around in WalMart to embarass her to DEATH!!! What? Its a parents JOB to do that to your children...Queen Goob said it was ok!!!

Lynners said...

Well said sister! I never iron either.

Gray Matter said...

Ir-ron B-oorrd. Irrroning Boorrd. Ironingboard. That sounds cool And you use it to get wrinkles out of close, you say? Do you stick the board on top of the clothes or is it coated with something and you lay you clothes on top and the wrinkles fade away? Hmm, I'm off to google that...