At the back of my mind I have often yearned for the spotless american home that I see in the movies and t.v. sitcoms. This home, vacuumed and tumble dried to perfection, run by a homemaker who has time to cook meals for a husband and five kids, do their laundry, drive them to school, take the baby out to the park, talk on the kitchen phone with her friends and spend an hour in the gym to keep her figure from going to the proverbial dogs. Not once, in all 40 years of watching these films and t.v. shows, did it ever occur to me that this awe-inspiring household may not be real.
To this end I had steadfastly refused to hire househelp, preferring to live alone with my then 9-year-old son in a small flat in Guadalupe. We each had our own tasks: he went to school, I went to the office. On weekends we did basic chores, with me O-C’ing in the first few weeks about being meticulously clean. In the latter weeks I eased off, content with aerosol can of Baygon in my right hand and Lysol in my left, and the delusion that I was winning the battle against household pests.
Now that I’m 41, remarried and with a toddler and a 12-year-old in the house, and after having watched enough “behind-the-scenes” features to movies that I have seen, I am starting to realize that the “spotless American home” was run not by that superhuman homemaker, but an entire Hollywood props crew. Ridiculously belated as this realization may seem, I nevertheless now admit that a two-story 3-bedroom apartment (still not the time to take out mortgage life insurance) is not as easy to keep clean as a 16sqm studio-type flat. That is, for a person who suffers infrequent symptomatic bouts of laziness.
I could ask my husband to hire that entire Hollywood props crew, and he would if he could, but it would be impractical, not to mention financially impossible at the current peso vs. US$ rates. I could just get off my lazy ass and do the household chores while the baby takes her naps instead of napping right beside her, which would bring us to the question of what happens when the baby refuses to take a nap as she is more and more likely to do these days? Do I plant her in her playpen, put on the Lilo & Stitch DVD, and spend the next hour and a half cleaning the house, doing the dishes & the laundry, while she sits entranced? I confess to having done that a few times, not a good practice at all as any child psychologist will tell me, but honestly, if I can squeeze in a quick shower in that hour and a half, I’m happy, she’s happy, and the house is clean.
Something is bound to happen soon that will make me bow to the inevitable and visit the local agency for a trained kasambahay and yaya. Here in the Philippines a couple of helpers devoted to their jobs will be more efficient than that Hollywood props crew, and make my lazy ass feel so ashamed. Heck, I can just go back to work at the office, thereby providing myself with yet another excuse to wave that “spotless american home run by super homemaker” illusion goodbye.