My eyes settle on a thin layer of dust on the window ledge in the front room. My first impulse is to jump up, run to the cupboard, grab a duster and rapidly swish it along removing the dust and therefore hiding the fact that I have been ‘lazy’ last weekend and, horror of horrors, did not thoroughly clean the whole house.
I also reflect on the good fortune that my mother has not been round this week, noticed my slackness and passed some judgmental comment on my complete lack of domestic goddess status, which I feel would have been completely unfair. (I actually don’t mind cleaning and if I had the time am sure that every smooth surface in my house would be polished within an inch of its life.) But I am weary of trying (and clearly not succeeding) of trying to have my cake and eat it. Try as I might over the last twenty years, I simply can’t do everything perfectly. I have realised I can’t be Perfect Mother; have a successful career and great social life; be the perfect partner and domestic, culinary goddess with a fabulous house – all at the same time! Not possible and oh, the pressures trying!
This recent realisation and acceptance that I don’t have to be a domestic goddess, albeit much later in my life than I would have hoped, has been quite liberating. The weekends that have disappeared under the pressures of housework, cooking, entertaining and schoolwork over the last twenty years, leaving me to return to work on Monday morning shattered and not the least bit refreshed as I should be are countless. And the worst bit was realising I was doing this to myself. It was my own expectations of myself that was dragging me under and I knew the point had come that this needed to change, especially once I had made a decision to become a Head Teacher. I had to get a new perspective and redress the balance; find time for myself and ‘sod the dishes’ occasionally.
So I joined the 21st century and bought a dishwasher – I know – talk about late to the party and I dare I admit this, I got a cleaner. Just admitting this to friends, I felt I had to justify and explain, let alone doing it publicly on a blog, but the difference it has made to me and my family, who actually see a smiling me at weekends and having time for them now is unbelievable. This teemed with my new outlook and acknowledgement that it’s ok not to be perfect all the time in every aspect of your life has meant a huge feeling of guilt has lifted from my shoulders.
The layer of dust catches my gaze again, but I supress the nagging domestic goddess fairy on my shoulder, close my eyes and revel in the knowledge that my mother would be turning various shades of purple had she witnessed my deliberate decision not to wipe away the dust.
Leaving the ledge dusty for another couple of days doesn’t make me a bad person and certainly any less of a woman.
Having said all of that – my mother still doesn’t know I have a cleaner! One step at a time!