I loathe housework. I loathe the relentless drudgery of it . It is physically exhausting but mentally infuriating.
It makes your back, calves and ankles ache, it dries out your hands and splits your nails, grazes your knuckles and scuffs up your knees. And it is so demeaning. It takes no intelligence or analytical skills but it is all-encompassing. You can’t do anything else – even listening to the radio is impossible once the vacuum cleaner is going.
I resent the hell out of it so much. Resent the fact that it is me and only me who does this, who knows the sheer hard work that goes into cleaning behind bookshelves and clearing out badly laid fires, picking up stupid odds and ends, sorting out various vital pieces of paper, scrubbing the grubby backs of dining chairs, dusting behind precarious mirrors and wiping, wiping, endless amounts of wiping. And in a day or two I will be doing most of it again.
I detest the way it unravels so quickly, how I can walk into a room a couple of hours after scouring it clean and immediately see the stray piece of cotton on the rug, the displaced cushions, the once-artfully folded throws strewn around and the crumbs on the chair arm. NONE OF IT DONE BY ME. How sweet, how neat and calm it would all be if there were only me to waft about in it once I had cleaned. But people have to sit in it, live in it, and I have to do it all over again. There is no pause button on a clean house or an empty ironing basket.
I used to diligently clean every cranny of our hateful old, crumbling kitchen, even when the drawer doors fell off and water started coming up through the floor tiles. I’d get up at 5am every Wednesday, while the children – then little more than babies – were still in bed in order to gouge grime out of the badly designed doors and inaccessible cupboards.
Then eventually we took out a loan (still paying it off…) and got a new streamlined kitchen. While it was being fitted I was parked up in a pub car park while my baby daughter slept in her car seat and saw the old kitchen units going past in a skip on the back of a truck. All that spraying and wiping had come to nothing.
The lesson? As long as the dust isn’t bringing on asthma attacks, and the grime isn’t breeding salmonella, leave the damn stuff. One day, the house will be rubble and you will be dead. All those hours with a dishcloth will have come to nothing.