“I’m gooder than you at folding blankets. Am I?” The 4 year old brags and then asks for approval all in one breath.
“What do you think?” I throw back at her.
“Yes. I’m gooder than you. I’m gooder than you at folding burp clothes, too.”
“Wonderful,” I reply. In my old age, here’s what I’ve finally figured out: brag all you want about how good you are, as long as you’re the one doing the work. Fold clothes better than me, change the diapers better than me, feed rice cereal to the baby better than me. Heck, you can detail the car and make the dinner. What do I care? I have no self esteem wrapped up in those things anymore.
As a young wife and mother, it was different. I cared deeply that everyone acknowledge what a wonderful homemaker I had become. This, after having been a pig of a teenager. I wanted neon signs and spotlights. And now? I just want someone else to do the work, please.
Here’s another thing I’ve learned. I can clean my house better and in less time than anyone I can possibly hire.
Our housecleaner, bless her heart, does a decent job but not up to my mother’s standards. But I can’t fire her. I can’t even call the agency and ask them to send someone else. First of all, because I took a long, hard look at myself and discovered that I am, after all, a perfectionist (you should whisper that part). Somehow, after spending my teen years screaming obscenities at the woman, I have become my mother, complete with the bright red moles, but that’s another blog. So, going back to my “at least you’re doing the work and I’m not” attitude, having a cleaner is light-years better than not having one.
And the second reason I’ll be stuck with this particular housekeeper for the rest of my life? She unburdens herself to me every time she comes over. I try to scoot out the door as quickly as possible, usually throwing the check at her as she’s coming up the path, but occasionally she corners me. Last week she told me that she’s selling her husband’s ancestral home, which they have been living in, because she and her husband are 2 months behind in their mortgage and need to downgrade to a small apartment. Ah, Dr. Phil, how do you fire someone after that? There she was, drinking her Pepsi and eating her Pop Tart, and, with a smile mind you, telling me that she’s very excited because she’ll be able to get out of debt. Oh, they may have to let the bank take the house, but at least they wouldn’t have to make the payments any more. Well, Pollyanna, I just don’t have the heart to oust you after that. Machiavelli I am not, although my kids may think otherwise.
In summary, my four year old is gooder than me at cleaning but I can’t hire her because of those silly child labor laws. The housecleaner is not gooder than me, but I can’t fire her because a half-baked job is better than no job and, besides, I can’t be responsible for sending her and her husband to the streets. Oh, my life is such a difficult one.