A Clean Story

What is not news to my family and close friends is that I hate housework. I loath it. If I could have back all the hours I’ve spent manhandling a mop and wrangling a vacuum cleaner, not to mention the dusting, washing clothes, preparing three meals a day, cleaning up afterwards… Well, with all that time returned to me I’d be twenty one again. 

What confuses the issue is that I like a clean house. It is satisfying to have the floors pristine; the rooms aired and bursting with freshness. And it’s nice to be able to observe the gorgeous view through sparkling clean windows. (I didn’t realise how bad my cataracts were until I had my windows cleaned. Just joking…sort of!) Besides, who wants to wear rubber thongs in their own shower recess? Or trip over dust bunnies big enough and old enough to breed? Not me. So out come the mop and vacuum cleaner with monotonous repetitiveness.

Thanks to my mother and years of practice I’ve become quite skilled at these domestic chores. However, along with the expertise has come a fulminating resentment. The older I get the more I realise how precious life is, and how finite, and how much of my irreplaceable time has been spent, and still is doing these mundane tasks, when I’d rather be out in the vegetable garden, or reading, or daydreaming. Or writing, which can only achieved successfully if I’ve done the required amount reading and daydreaming. 

There must be something I like about housework, I hear you say. Or perhaps something I hate less. Hmm. I don’t mind pegging out the washing, especially if it’s a nice day. To amuse myself I sometime colour-coordinate clothes with pegs. Don’t laugh, it’s true. And in the interests of continuous quality improvement, I really should lobby for the availability of a greater selection of coloured pegs…

And if I’m honest I don’t mind washing floors. Perhaps because it’s what I do last and it means I’ve almost finished. But there is something satisfying about the back-and-forward swish of the mop and the smell of detergent and vinegar. And I do try and stick with the simple eco-friendly cleaning products. Not saying that I haven’t been sucked in a time or two to buying products that rarely live up to their outrageous claims. The only thing that’s ever made housework hugely easier for me was when I employed a house cleaner. 

However, it would be remiss not to mention the many innovations in my lifetime alone, all meant to make housework less onerous. Would I swap my front-loading automatic washing machine for a twin tub again? No way. Life without a microwave? Hard to imagine. And I will fess up to having spent way too much on a stick vacuum cleaner recently. Has it made me want to vacuum more often? Not so as you’d notice because I still need to be on the end of that very expensive vacuum cleaner. Bottom line is: housework will always require a certain amount of commitment and elbow grease, and I find these days I run a bit low on both. I do wish I’d cracked on to Gumption much earlier in my cleaning career. It’s effective, and it’s made in Australia. 

And before you ask, the men in my stories always cook. Baked beans is as good as it get’s in real life! Unfortunately, I have no answers or simple explanations as to why women are still doing the lion’s share of domestic duties. But please, let’s not give up on our continuing efforts to shift the balance. 

First posted as a blog in the Australian Fiction Authors Weekly Wanderings October 2023

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