Sunday, October 21, 2012

Maid's Day Off - Dirty Little Details

It was one of those gorgeous fall weekends here; copper-colored leaves swirling in an amber, sun-drenched sky. A light jacket, favorite pair of jeans, comfy shoes and you're good to go. Outdoors, anywhere. Days like these spark thoughts of freedom, of hours without limits, of endless chores and dirty little details you would wish away if only you were able.

But on any given day the average person has a to-do list that just won't quit. Would I sound terribly sexist if I were to edit that sentence to read: "...the average woman..?" Yes? Oh darn. It truly isn't the case. And I'm not about to debate who works harder. Nor do I really care. It's a matter of opinion and a highly subjective one at that, I'm certain. Yet there's an old saying, "A man may work from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done." As a single, working mother myself - I concur. And if history is any indication, further proof is in the pudding.

Rewind a few dozen years ago, (and then some) and there I am. A young girl, laying belly-down on the carpet, elbows bent, fists supporting my chin, television droning in my ear. From the corner of my eye, she flits by me - my own mother hoisting a fully-loaded laundry basket from one floor of our house to the other. Some time later she cruises by, a hanger suspended from her forearm, my father's shirt flapping in her breeze. Before the night is over she'll iron and then balance the family checkbook  - all while I lounge comfortably in front of the tube wondering why on earth she can't just wrap it up and chill out. I recall asking her to join me, on many occasions, as if her relaxation were solely contingent upon my invitation.

"Can't," she'd say. "There's too much to do and it's the maid's day off."

No. We did not have a maid. Ever. It was simply mom's way of implying that if she didn't do it, it wasn't getting done. And, by George, she was right. Again. (Aren't they always?)

Now before you get all riled up - yes, I'd help out - now and then. However, most often my mother was like the Lone Ranger minus Tonto. Most mothers are (including me.) If we want something done right we end up just doing it ourselves.

But I digress. A bit. The point is: our free time isn't ever entirely free. Even when we set it up to be that way. Even when we spend months planning a vacation somewhere far from our dirty little details, safely hidden from our laundry baskets and our checkbooks. Even when we swear we're going to devote an entire beautiful autumn afternoon to doing nothing other than comparing the different hues of red in the trees. Before you know it, it slips into your mind. A detail. Let one in and soon another follows. And another. And another. They're like ants flocking to an open picnic basket.

Now I ask you...where is that maid with the vacuum when you need her?

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