One evening, during dinner, I exaggeratedly expounded on how my family's messiness obstructs my efforts at elevating myself (off the kitchen floor, for starters). Somewhere between cleaning up two spilled milks, three servings of spaghetti that slid off plates, and the 45 pots, 18 bowls and six serving utensils my husband used to prepare dinner, I snapped.
My family received an hysterical (the dual meanings of the word both apply here) discourse, accentuated by flailing arms and several climactic points at which I left the room, only to return again with overstated, but sober, additions to my diatribe. It went something like this: "If I were the only slob in the house, it would be okay!" (Leave the room and return.) "But you're all slobs, too!" (Leave the room and return.) "I'm the Mom. I get to be the biggest slob!" (Leave the room and return.) "You should all clean up after me!" (Leave the room and return.) "And one more thing, haven't any of you heard anything about honor your mother?!" (Leave the room and slam a door somewhere in the house, for emphasis.)
When I left for the final time, my family paused briefly, expecting that I might return, then, when I didn't, shrugged in unison and continued their banter, at the juncture where they had taken a momentary hiatus to accommodate my ranting.
I don't believe in housekeeping as a hobby, career, measurement of mortal accomplishment, or grounds for existing. I put my confidence in the school of self-actualization.
Self-actualization means attaining your highest potential in life, after first meeting your basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing. This includes the self-imposed womanly requirement of spending time on her hands and knees scraping unidentifiable purplish-blackish goop, with grass and a pineapple chunk stuck in it, off the floor with a butter knife and elbow grease.
Ladies, it's hard to self-actualize on the kitchen floor (or in any other proper cleaning posture).
How can I take pleasure in creating a sparkling, sanitary bathroom? The elation and personal satisfaction resulting from such an exquisite sight dwindles within minutes, when I return to the restroom to discover yellow sprinkles on the toilet seat, a muddy hand print on the sink, an entire roll of toilet paper unraveled around the base of the un-flushed toilet and a filthy toad cradled, by a grimy child, in a fresh white towel.
Ask yourself what rational woman could possibly feel she has reached the apex of her glory after pulling the comforter on top of the crisp, wrinkle free sheets she just slaved over with a hot iron? If those sheets won't get hung in a museum as an example of Retro-Feminine Modern Art, then do yourself a favor and put them on the bed straight out of the dryer, so you can move on to something more consequential.
Now, put down that dust rag, raise your voice to your family, and repeat after me: "Today I liberate myself from the burden of housekeeping guilt that separates me from my life's ultimate purpose and destiny. And when my house looks like the city should condemn it, I will step aside and give them room, because no woman's epitaph ever read '. . . she kept a shipshape house'."
If your family doesn't respond favorably, try leaving the room several times and slamming a door while making your pledge. You probably still won't get their attention, but the process is cathartic.