March 9, 2010...12:22 am

Mrs. Huxtable, you messed me up

Oh yes, that’s right, I’m passing the buck and blaming television for some of my insecurities as a wife. Why, when I know full well that Having It All is a myth, do I still judge myself when I fall short? I don’t even have kids, but I still can’t manage to keep up with everything that I feel should be done around the house. My dirty little secret is that I think my house is dirtier than your house. Also, my career isn’t as fulfilling as your career. My regrets are regrettier than your regrets. I can’t seem to stay in great shape, travel the world, bring home my slab of the bacon, maintain my relationships, keep up with the Joneses, recycle, have mind-blowing sex with Jim 24/7, and put a healthy, delicious dinner on the table every night of the week without LOSING MY MIND or ending up in an early grave. And yet, when I talk about how I want to find balance in my life, what I’m really saying is that I want to find a way to do it all. I’m upset when I can’t keep all my plates spinning and tonight they are crashing around me.

Tomorrow I might go easier on myself. But today, even though I am proud that I bought a microfiber mop instead of continuing to waste Swiffer refills, I’m beating myself up that I’m too tired to use the damn thing.

I can finally relate to the catchline of that old commercial that was so popular when I was a kid: “Calgon, take me away.” (And, Calgon, why you’re at it, please pack Jim’s lunch for tomorrow, balance my checkbook, and clip my cat’s claws. I’m too tired.)

- Robyn Okrant


  • I read an article a while back about the difference between men’s chores and women’s chores. Men do the chores that are periodic–mow the lawn, shovel the snow, change the light bulbs, etc, while women do the day to day jobs–laundry, dishes, meals, cleaning. No wonder women are overwhelmed! Especially if they have jobs in addition to being wives and mothers. In addition, I think women feel more pressure to be and do it all–now that we’re liberated and all. It’s very hard for us to let go and accept less of ourselves.

  • I heard a rumor that the earthquake in Chile shifted the earth’s axis. My first question? Does this mean we will have more than 24 hours in a day? I could sure use it.


  • To hell with cleaning the house. We got a cleaning service every other week and it is only really clean that one day and then all the clutter goes back to where it was before. I never mop the floor in between the cleanings, but we don’t eat off the floor, so who cares? We are on a tight budget, but we really budget for the not-nearly-as-expensive-as-you-might-think cleaning service.

    And all this clutter is stuff we are working on. It’s really interesting stuff, so what do I care if people see it. And some of the clutter may be a part of a passive-aggressive stand off we have going on, which is also interesting too, right? Also, I come from a long line of slightly cluttered women. My grandma used to say, “creative people are messy” and I know I’d rather be creative than neat as a pin!

    And gosh, I love to cook, but I just can’t do it every single day, three meals a day. Our kids get school lunches because I simply am not going to the trouble of packing their food only to find out that they don’t want to eat it anyway. If they get a school lunch, I never have to know what they don’t eat and I don’t have to feel bad about it.

    • cathleen carr

      You guys, I really need to try this cleaning service thing! Maybe when and if we ever live in a house. Considering how much of a struggle it is to keep our tiny apartment clean, I can’t imagine what it would be like to have more than one bedroom!

    • Susie – You are living the dream, and you have the right attitude! Love it!

  • Personally I thought Claire was bitchy and I suspect it’s because she was so stressed out from balancing work, home and a crazy husband who didn’t seem to do any housework.

    I’m single, I live alone, I have a 50-60 hour a week job and I don’t have time for half the things I should be doing. Even when I have the time, I ignore stuff because I need some down time.

    I just tell myself that when it comes down to it, I’ve never let anything lapse that was actually important. So what if there’s animal fur all over the house? Anyone who would judge me for it shouldn’t be in my life anyway. When it gets to the point that it bothers me, I deal with it.

    I grew up with a mother with OCD and seeing how absolutely crazy she was about everything being spotless and organized (it would take her 2-3 hours to clean the bathroom, imagine how much fun it was when you add in the rest of the house) and the amount of time she spent cleaning has taught me that as an adult, I’d rather be a little messy and sane.

    I lived with someone for 5 years and for the first 3 I tried to do it all. All the housework, cooking, laundry, paying the bills and go out all the time with friends or have people over. It’s no fun and it leaves no room to actually live a life.

    Between getting a to-do list done and having a spotless house or actually living and enjoying my life, I choose option B.

  • At least Carol Brady had Alice. That totally made sense. The go-go 80′s duped us into thinking you could have a wildly successful career and raise 5 children. Nope. No way. Not without a staff.
    I get secretly excited when I go to someone else’s place and see dust and dirty dishes. I feel like I’m not alone. But, if you come to my place, I will spend 2 hours cleaning so you will not know how I live. I will even light a candle. LIES, OH THE LIES!

  • I think part of finding balance is figuring out that you can’t do it all, all at once.

    After Mom died and I got back home from Iowa, I honestly didn’t know where to start. I couldn’t start back where I was because there was stuff we brought back that just added to the whole overwhelming mess that I had going on. So while I wanted to recycle what I could, I also had to balance that with the fact that I needed to declutter in the worst way and as quickly as I could. Sometimes you have to compromise with yourself so you can get it done.

    I’m taking these lessons to heart. Instead of having a list of 10 things I need to get done before I go to bed, I pick the three most pressing and work on them. If I get two of the three done, I put the remaining item for the next night’s list.

    With a job that I spent 8-9 hours a day with and my other commitments, I have to remind myself that I am only human and that I don’t have a TV Life.

    • I totally agree in theory, P. But I can’t wrap my heart around it. Isn’t that nuts? I understand the truth of the matter, but can’t get myself to believe it.

  • What a relief to read my secret fears pour so publicly from the honest soul of another woman. Although I do know that my house really is dirtier than yours and my regrets are far regrettier than yours, it’s so nice of you to think of me in the opposite light. Perhaps that’s one thing we can do for each other; I’ll keep seeing your house as cleaner for you, and you keep seeing mine as cleaner than yours for me…Living the dream!!!!

  • “My regrets are regrettier than your regrets.” Best. Sentence. Ever.

  • I can tell you right now that there is no freakin’ way Mrs. Huxtable cleaned that house all by herself. And I will put my dust bunnies and regrets up against yours any day. :)

    I was watching reruns of Roseanne (don’t judge…) and I noticed that even she worked full time, came home, cleaned the house, put dinner on the table, helped with homework, and was funny – all at the same time. I mean, GEEZ!!! Cut us some slack, would ya?! :)

    In my real life in Stepford Suburbia, and I am pretty sure that the rest of the women around here have more than the standard 24 hours in their days to do all the things they claim they do. Why must we maintain the facade amongst ourselves this way? Where do they find the energy? I don’t have it.

    • GREAT point – even Roseanne – who was supposed to be the ‘real deal’ somehow managed to do it all. At least she looked tired by the end of the day. Claire H always looked fresh and ready.

      Oh this facade! We know it exists but none of us seem quite ready to break it yet.

      Thanks for your comments!

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