Last night, Doug and I went to his mom’s house, to have dinner, spend quality time with his family, and – okay, I admit it – wash his truck and do some laundry. While he took care of the truck, I carried a laundry basket into the laundry room… then stood there and stared at the machine.
Actually, laundry is one of the few household tasks I consider myself to be good at. Or at least one of the few I enjoy. In college, I used to love heading off to the laundromat with a book and a pocketful of quarters, prepared to spend the afternoon listening to white noise and smelling fabric softener. But every machine is different, and household machines aren’t as self-explanatory as the ones in the laundromat, so I stared at Doug’s mom’s washer, wondering in what order I should put things into it (clothes then water then soap? water then soap then clothes?), and what the hell that little plastic ball in the bottom of the drum was for.
Doug’s 12-year-old sister came in to help me – only she’s never done laundry a day in her life yet, so we struggled to figure it out together, until finally the lady of the house herself came in, announcing her presence with, “I understand the 12-year-old not knowing how to do laundry, but…” And then she showed me, step-by-step, how to load and start her washing machine. Ridiculously embarrassing.
I then spent all day today with my friend Amanda, who is, in my estimation anyway, something of a perfect little housewife. Her home is clean, organized, and beautifully decorated. She cooks and bakes. She spends her evenings reading while her husband (who builds rockets by day) practices his music. She works full time, studies, and somehow still finds time to make their bed every morning. Doug and I never make our bed; in fact, our whole bedroom is pretty much just a dumping ground for clothes, books, and random stuff which has no designated place in our apartment.
I don’t know how Amanda does it.* I suppose working something closer to bankers’ hours doesn’t hurt, but I can’t blame everything on my job. And I have other friends with lovely homes and culinary talents, and I’m dumbfounded by all of them, too. When I come home from work, the last thing I want to do is more work. Before I go to work, same thing. On my days off, likewise.
Unlike my mom, and apparently most of my friends, I just wasn’t born with a gift for the marital arts. I have other talents – writing, singing, foreign languages, empathizing, giving advice – but not these talents that I feel I need in order to meet my goals of wife/mother/renaissance woman extraordinaire. Amanda’s offered to help me cultivate them – today, she gave me the following cleaning tips: “Oh yeah, you have to clean the bathroom like once a week. And put Comet in the sink every night after you do the dishes.” It was like she was speaking a foreign language, and not the kind of foreign languages I’m quick to pick up. So I’ll be depending on her charity, and hopefully the charity of some of my other home-adept friends as well, if I ever hope to become less domestically hopeless.
Last night after dinner, Doug’s mom was joking around with him about Valentine’s Day. “Make sure you do it right,” she playfully threatened him.
“What do you want me to do, propose?” he asked.
“No no, that’s not what I meant. Although, it would be okay if you did. I like her.”
Apparently, my inability to instinctively operate a washer, at age 28, is not a deal-breaker for my future mother-in-law. And believe me, I know how valuable that is.
*In fairness, Amanda mentioned to me today that she doesn’t know how I manage to find something to write about every day, that I can spin to fit my theme. But it’s easy: I’m obsessed.