Tall Poppy Diaries

Observations and musings on life as a happy high-achiever (or what the Aussie's call a "Tall Poppy" ). "Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have." --Oprah Winfrey

Monday, February 14, 2005


  The Best Valentine's Present Ever--Part 2

And this is how the conversation between my husband and my son went:

Hubby: Son, you need to clean up your room.
Son 1: But Dad, it's too hard.

Me (chiming in from three rooms away): Son, there is a place for EVERYTHING in your room. Those toys are supposed to be in the PLAYROOM--NOT your bedroom. If you MUST keep the toys in your bedroom, you have an entire closet with virtually nothing in it and shelves from floor to ceiling. Shelves are made so that you can pick things up off the floor and put them away. (going back to gluing heart-shaped candies to homemade valentines...)
Son 1: But Daaaaaddd...it's too hard to pick up all of these little pieces. And besides, even if I pick up the Legos and tapes, my room's STILL going to be a mess.
Hubby: Son, I'm going to hire someone to come and clean the house. They'll come in and do all of the final touch stuff that Mom usually does after you do YOUR part. But you've got to get all of the toys and stuff off the floor...

I literally fell out of my chair and sat stunned on the floor--certain that I had misunderstood what my husband had just said. I waited for Hubby to go downstairs, said, "Son, I need to see you for a moment", and scooted back into my chair to await clarification of the conversation I had just overheard. When Son 1 arrived, I asked what he thought of the valentines (attempting to mask the REAL reason I had called him in)--then whispered, "Did Daddy just say that he was going to HIRE someone to come and clean the house?" Son 1 replied, "Yeah. Weird, huh?" and left.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. You see, housekeeping has been one of the most divisive subjects in our marriage. I LOVE being a "homekeeper". I love for our home to be pretty, warm and comfortable. I love having friends over. I love that the neighborhood kids love being at our house. But if I have to spend more than an hour a day cleaning house, I'm miserable. And angry. And if I don't clean all day and have the whole house--all 6200+ sq. ft. of it--picked up and ready for company, Hubby is miserable. And angry.

When we were talking about all of those important things that a couple talks about before they get married, it never occurred to me that Hubby-to-be would not "believe" in two things: Housekeepers and Babysitters. Never occurred to me. Growing up, our family always had both. Even as a single, working girl, I had cleaning services come in once or twice a month just to keep things up to snuff. I never knew that the reason why my husband's large house at Sundance was clean whenever I visited was because his mother and sister drove over an hour each way to clean it for him before he arrived. I never knew that he thought that "Family=Babysitter" even when the closest family members were 800 miles away.

I have always taken great pride in my homes. I've always done a lot of entertaining. And, now that I have playdate-aged children, I relish playing hostess to the younger set, as well. But I also believe that I should be able to have time to myself to do the things that are important to me. I am a firm believer in nourishing your own spirit so that you have something left inside to give to others. I also spend a lot of one-on-one time with my children. My friends tell me that they feel badly that they don't do the things with their children that I do with mine. One of these days, we will certainly look back and say "Now, THAT was time well-spent."

If I were spending my "Me time" and "Mommy time" cleaning house, would I feel the same way? I don't think so. Life is too short. I feel like an hour a day (not including the laundry) should be plenty of time to get all of the cleaning done. Otherwise, there is too much house and too much junk. Unfortunately, we have both.

I have tried to talk Hubby into moving into a smaller house. He says no. And so we have reached an impasse where I clean when I feel like it or HAVE to, and he stays mad about the house being a wreck. NOT GOOD! Any time I mention getting a cleaning service to come in once or twice a month just to keep things on track, he either argues with me about why we don't need one or he walks away.

Valentine's Day isn't supposed to be about roses, and dinners and candy. It's supposed to be about showing your love and affection for other people. What most of us want most on Valentine's Day are time and attention from the people we love. I know that having a housekeeper come into your home may not scream EITHER of these things to you. But it does to me. Having my husband FINALLY agree to have a housekeeper come into our home signals that he values MY time and that he is paying attention to MY needs. Is it a stretch of the imagination to read so much into such a simple gesture? Perhaps it would be to you. But Cyndy, you and I are obviously kindred spirits on this issue...After 11 years of struggling over this issue and having it rip the two of us apart: Of all of the Valentine's gifts I've ever been given, this year's gift, a cleaning service, is without a doubt The Best Valentine's Gift I've ever received....

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