Diary of a Lousy Housewife

Why is it that every time I set off on a big cleaning project, I end up with a cold? My little one has a cold already, so I’m sure I caught it from her, but I’m also sure that the amount of dust and crud I’ve been dusting, vacuuming, and sweeping over the last few days has made it worse.

And I’m not done. Oh, I’m so not done. I’ve trying to stop my perfectionism in cleaning, but even so, there are currently only five out of ten rooms in my house that I would not be mortified to have someone see. That doesn’t count the basement, which needs more work. And the kitchen, OMG, the kitchen! I haven’t even started it yet and Mr. L and the girls will be leaving my in-laws’ house early afternoon. So I have at a maximum 6-7hr left. Sounds like a lot, right? Given that I’m sitting on the couch right now trying to move the massive mucus weight that has settled on my chest, I’m not so sure. But I also just realized that I haven’t eaten in 6hr. That’s definitely a factor.

Okay, thinking positively now. I am going to take a break, eat a sandwich, drink a bottle of water, and then get back to work. I shall prevail!

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So I spent all of yesterday in the basement–and it’s still not done! Once I got down there, I realized that things needed to be put away before the floor could be cleaned (long story short, we had two elderly cats who left their mark). And there was no way that the existing shelving could handle everything that had been put down there over the last few months. So my first task was to pull out the IKEA shelving we bought 7-8 years ago but never assembled. Some of the bolts were missing, so I could only put two of the three sets together, but this finally gave me space for all of our paper/plasticware supplies, space for additional Christmas decorations, and (my favorite) a shelf unit that stores all of the excess photos, tchotchkes, candles, etc, etc, that have been sitting in the basement for the past five years while most of the walls/surfaces in the house have gone bare.

We have an old “coal room” in the basement–the place in days gone by where coal was shoveled in to run the boiler. I’m using that room as a space to keep stuff that needs to go to the dump as well as stuff that I’ll put out at a garage sale. Doing that, as well as the new shelving, allowed me to really clean the place up. The workbench is still a mess and the floor still needs some scrubbing, but it’s SO much better than it was!

Today I’ve retooled my schedule to get the rest of the house done (such optimism). Of course, I’m already an hour behind that new schedule. But, I’m confident that by the time I fall into bed tonight, the house will be drop-in ready (except for my office on the 3rd floor, which I’m tackling tomorrow).

While I certainly miss my girls and Mr. L, having time to myself is such a nice luxury. Even when the time is spent cleaning, it’s relaxing to know that I don’t have to feed or wipe anyone but myself for at least another 30 hours. 🙂

Mr. L has taken the girls up to his parents’ house this weekend so that I can blitz our house. Going on a floor-by-floor basis, I’m going to clean up the messes, throw out the crap, and put the rest of it away. In theory, I will be done with all of this by 5:30 tomorrow. In reality, I’m sure I’ll be working up until they pull in the driveway Monday afternoon. And given that I’m already 3hr behind my optimistic schedule, I better get to work…

I had been working on a post about my split personalities—mom, wife, designer, etc—when our world came to a bit of a halt. Last Monday, my husband was laid off. Given that my income in 2009 was about 10% of his, this is a bad, bad thing for us. His severance package is decent, so that will see us through a few months. But putting that aside for now (ha, like I can), what I’m taking away from this is just a sense of disillusionment.

It’s like two of the main financial adages I was told as a child are being proved false:

  • “Buying a house is your best investment.” Um, not. We’ve been in our house for five years, paid over $100K in mortgage and taxes, and still couldn’t sell it for what we owe.
  • “Work hard, do a good job, and you’ll be rewarded.” Well, yes, in the last year Mr. L was rewarded with praise and a promotion, but if they valued his work so much, why did he end up on the chopping block?

We graduated from college in a recession, but it’s a lot easier to deal with it when you’ve come from a life of Ramen Noodles and Kraft Dinner. Now, with a mortgage, a car payment, and two children, it’s a little harder to just cut back. And it feels like all the hard work we’ve done since graduating (20 years this summer!) has just led us off a cliff. I know I’m being melodramatic, but it’s a huge shock when one day your husband is being told the company is grooming him to move up the corporate ladder and (just about) the next day he’s piling his desk toys into a cardboard box.

I’m really not worried about Mr. L finding a job. He’s very talented and has skills that are in demand. The question is whether or not he can find something comparable here in Cleveland. We’ve been here five years; for all intents and purposes, our children are natives; and (see above) selling our house would be a major burden. I would prefer to stay here but I also know that when you take on the role of primary caregiver (as opposed to primary wage earner), you have to move where the job takes you.

In the end, I want Mr. L to be happy professionally, for our family to be solvent, and for us to be happy and healthy together. It’ll all come together, but to quote Tom Petty (the handsomest man in show business), “The waiting is the hardest part.”

Earlier I was thinking about a positive-focused post with a list of things I’m happy about myself and my life. Having just had a rip-roaring fight with Mr. Lousy, I’m not in any state of mind to think happy thoughts.

The subject, per usual, was money. Specifically, the fact that my freelance business isn’t making much of any. My receivables for 2009 were 1/3 of what they were in 2008 (ouch) and while I can certainly put a big part of that on the hideous economy, another big part has been a lack of a go-getter attitude on my part. We’ve had so much going on the last 6-8mo, it’s been hard to devote myself to anything but just doing the work that I have already. I’ve been lucky over the last five years that, while there have certainly been fallow periods, I always had work coming in. Now… not so much. I need to start chasing the work, but that requires a positive spirit I don’t really have. For as much as I’m a glass-half-full kind of person in most of life, when it comes to my professional abilities, I’ve been put through the wringer by a few too many bosses to feel confident about self-promotion.

Yesterday I started an online therapy/accountability program and I think it’s going to be the kick in the pants I need. Within the first 15min of the conference call, I felt like I had found my home planet. While many of my friends are classic “type a” personalities, these are women who really get me. Even though we hadn’t “met” until yesterday, by the end of the call, we were finishing each others’ sentences. For the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful.

So maybe I’ll write that post about happy things soon.

I feel right now like I’ve hit rock bottom. I look at my life and can’t really see anything that makes me want to continue. It’s odd, I always thought that the older you were, the more that your upbringing doesn’t affect you, but I feel like mine is affecting me more and more. I think back on now see how completely f’d up my parents were. They didn’t teach me a damn thing about anything. I saw dysfunctional relationships, anger and resentment that lasted decades, pettiness, and no real sense of how to be an adult. I remember shopping with my mom and watching TV with my dad. That’s it.

I’m sounding here like a spoiled brat whining about her parents, so I’m going to try and at least stop that. I just wonder if going from college to marriage in the span of 27 months left me without any period of independent adulthood. I’ve never lived alone. I’ve never done my own taxes. I feel like I know so little about anything and I used to think I was smart.

There’s some quotation that I remember seeing a few times over the years–I think someone at a workplace had it and maybe my mother-in-law as well. It’s something to the effect that it doesn’t matter how smart you are, if you don’t apply yourself, you’re wasted potential. That’s how I feel: wasted potential. I could have been anything, instead I’m nothing.

Over the last year, I’ve completely withdrawn from anything I enjoy or other people. The only things I still do is read escapist books and watch TV. I barely remember being outside this summer at all.

Right at this moment, I don’t know what to do. Mr. Lousy and I argued about the state of the house and I think for the first time he saw just how depressed I am. Even knowing that, however, didn’t change his feelings regarding the house. So here I sit, warring with myself. There’s part of me that wants to wallow in my depression, sit here on the couch, and eventually fall asleep–after eating no lunch or dinner. Then I have that little voice inside, the one that’s from cheesy 40s movies about plucky kids putting on a show to save whatever the hell needed saving in their tiny town, and the voice is telling me that if I stay up late and get to cleaning, maybe I can save what needs saving–it this case, my sanity, my marriage, my life.

Stay tuned to find out what I do.

We’ve had all sorts of germs around our house the past few weeks, so I haven’t been up for posting. Of course, I also haven’t been up for cleaning, so my house has descended into horrors once again. I’m slowly clawing my way back–there is only about one load of dirty dishes sitting on the counters; the laundry is ever-so-slowly refilling the empty dresser drawers; and the mountains of random crap are being scaled.

The problem, as Mr. Lousy would tell you, is that when you let things build up (and up and up and up) they become impossible if something comes up (work, sick child, broken dryer). Unfortunately, something always comes up. It’s really been depressing me lately and, of course, that leads to a lack of motivation. With the girls home sick all day, they make more of a mess than when they’re at school in the mornings, so I find myself cleaning up the same things every day. I’m sounding very whiny right now, which I know needs to stop.

My girls’ playroom had become a complete dump and, in a bit of a rage, I started packing up all of their toys and putting them into the playroom closet. Now they have about 10%, if that, of their toys remaining in the room and, if the room is kept neat, every week they can reclaim one box of toys (after I first go through and pitch anything broken or out-grown). My oldest is starting to understand the concept of money, so I’m also motivating her with the promise of financial reward. We’ll see if it works, it’s not like she doesn’t have everything in the world to begin with!

Dust Bunnies