It’s time for some deprogramming, y’all! Let’s go back to the beginning and remind ourselves of the four ideals that the Cult of Perfect Motherhood forces us to try to achieve: perfect femininity, never putting yourself first, freaking out over the latest parenting research, and domesticity. It’s the last one of those that I want to talk about today.
My house is a complete and total disaster area most of the time. I married a slob–I knew it when we started dating and I saw his bedroom in his apartment, where his stuff was literally in piles everywhere and there was only a path to his bed. He’s toned it down quite considerably since then, but the truth is, he doesn’t see the mess, and if he does see it, he usually doesn’t care much about it. Is it my favorite thing about him? No, but it’s sure as hell not a deal breaker. He tells me I’m hot even after I’ve lost a boob, and he’s a great kisser. Guy’s a keeper.
That said, the slob tendencies that run in our family and my level of fatigue these days mean our house is, as I said, a disaster area most of the time.
Before cancer, I used to clean up quite a bit before people came over. Not for everyone–even before cancer, I had friends for whom I didn’t clean–but for many guests, I’d put everything away, EVERYTHING, and sweep and vacuum, and clean behind the toilets, and maybe even mop. Now? I’m tired. A lot. I don’t have the energy for all that, and frankly, after a long day at work, neither does The Hubs. So, I pick up the kids’ dirty underwear from the living room floor (not kidding, there’s two pairs of it there as I type this) and clear the toys off the couches so there’s somewhere for everyone to sit. That’s basically it.
And you know what? Not one of my friends has given a shit. Not one of them has said “Gee, you’ve really let this place go, haven’t you?” They just plop down on the couch and start chatting.
Here’s the thing: I think we’re all afraid to let down our guard about this whole domesticity thing, and tell the truth: some of us like cleaning and feel a sense of accomplishment from it, but some (many of us?) don’t like it. It’s not where we find our joy. And that’s OK. It doesn’t make us bad mothers that we’re not finding our joy in domestic tasks. Let me say that again: it doesn’t make us bad mothers that we don’t like cleaning.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: a key way to escape from the Cult and its pressures and expectations is to be honest about how you feel about them. If domesticity isn’t your thing, just say that. If you give no fucks about being feminine, tell your friends. There’s so much fear among women about telling the truth about our lives, for fear we’ll be judged, and shunned. But I’m telling you now: the truth is liberating, and I think you’ll find that your friends will express relief when you speak your truth, and say, “Oh thank goodness, I’m so glad I’m not the only one.”