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The Undomestic Goddess

The Perfect Little House, Toronto, September 2013
The Perfect Little House, Toronto, September 2013

I’m not exactly Martha Stewart material. I suck at proper etiquette, home improvement projects leave me speechless (“How do they do that? And WHY?”), I don’t get Pinterest and I can’t pair wine with food for the life of me.

I’m the undomestic goddess.

Don’t think I’m a spoiled princess. I used to do what needed to be done in terms of household chores. Feng and I have always taken informal turns doing dishes, the laundry and so on. Overall, housekeeping was easy.

So when did Swiffer become my best friend? How did turn into that woman who think Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser is a gift to mankind? And how on earth did I manage to memorize the model of my vacuum filter?

Oh, right. Mark.

I’m not sure whether it’s just us—please tell me it’s not—but the house became 100% dirtier and messier since we became a family of three.

I found myself with some free time the other day. Did I decide to have a glass of wine and relax? Nope. I embarked on a major quest: make the sticky kitchen floor unsticky again. I mopped, cleaned and even washed the soles of the slippers we use in the kitchen.

After putting the shoes outside for them to dry under the fall sun, I returned to the kitchen and admired the result. Ah ah! A clean, shiny, 100% non-sticky floor.

And then I looked at myself in the mirror. Seriously, is that something to gloat about? I mean, I’m pretty sure a few healthcare professionals saved lives while I was polishing that fucking floor.

More importantly, it will only stay clean for as long as Mark doesn’t come in the kitchen. Like, ever. Which is pretty hard to accomplish considering we don’t live in a mansion (and that we have a semi-open kitchen without a door).

I can’t complain. Mark is not a picky eater. He doesn’t fuss when trying new stuff. It’s just that when he is no longer hungry or when he is bored and wants us to pay attention, he holds whatever food we gave him and deliberately throws it to the floor from his highchair, as in discovering the power of gravity (well, I guess he is in a way). “Mark… non!” He knows he is not supposed to do it but he does it anyway. So I mop crumbs, pieces of bread, mashed banana, quarters of mandarins or Cheerios twice a day.

When you have a baby, you naturally need more stuff. Like, you know, baby clothes, diapers, a few toys, etc. Well, these items tend to magically 1) disappear when you need them 2) hide under furniture 3) trip you at nighttime 4) scattered themselves everywhere in the house.

“Feng…” I said the other day. “Do you think you could…I don’t know, stop leaving stuff everywhere around the house?”

“Like what?”

“Like that.” I pointed to the empty box of cereals on the kitchen table.

“The recycling box is full.”

“Or all the crap your parents bring.”

Oh oh. Dangerous territory.

See, my in-laws never come empty-handed. They bring stuff. “Stuff” is the nicest word I can use for what we end up with but never asked for. New clothes for Mark (never mind he already has four hats he won’t wear anyway). New toys (preferably easy to break or inappropriate for his age). Food (two boxes of moon cakes, really?). Blankets and bed sheets (because you know, we don’t have any and sleep on the bare—sticky—kitchen floor). Pile and piles of stuff on “special” at the supermarket that we don’t like or won’t have time to eat before it goes bad.

And I just love the passive-aggressive way they change Mark’s clothes entirely whenever they take care of him. But that’s another topic.

“Just ignore it” Feng advises. “They will bring stuff no matter what I say anyway. You’re fighting a lost battle.”

I know that. And honestly, my in-laws are pretty decent people, we just aren’t on the same page very often.

But I have to clean up all the stuff they bring and scatter everywhere in the house. I have to sort out what clothes Mark will actually wear (The pink Minnie shirt? Nope!) and give away the rest. I have to clean the kitchen, put the leftovers somewhere.

I feel like I spend my time putting stuff away, wiping, moping and vacuuming. “Don’t bother!” Feng says.

I know. It never ends. And I’m not even that picky.

It’s just that I like when the house is relatively clean and organized. It put my mind at ease.

I can’t help it. I became a semi-domestic Goddess.

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