June Cleaver is my idol. She always has been. The pearls daintily draped across her neck; the popped collar and full skirt of her crisp-pressed dress; delicate pumps color-matched perfectly; the classically understated clutch to hold the week’s grocery budget while walking to the market, the butcher and past the soda fountain (to peek on the kids, just in case) – that was the American Dream to me. I know my feminist (or humanist or women’s rights….) friends are shuddering at my words. But, please understand that this is a dream for me when the domesticity is by choice, not oppression.
To tell the truth, I think of myself as something of a “June Cleaver for the 21st Century.” I think this in the same part of my mind where I’m still a size 2, I can dance better than anyone else on Dancing With The Stars (the professionals, not the stars), I cook like Rachel Ray, sing like Alison Krauss, I only eat healthy and sustainable foods, I have a barely measurable carbon footprint, and I’m just days away from discovering a cure to…..well, something big. (have I mentioned I have a vivid imagination).
Today’s schedule was relatively open, making it a perfect June Cleaver day – time to tend to the house the way I should. I gathered my microfiber cloths and homemade cleaner, fetched the vacuum from the closet, and placed boxes nearby for keep/donate/toss sorting as I go. I started with the stove, since I don’t like that (I figured I’d get it over with). After 15 minutes I had managed to take all the burners apart and was soaking the grates; scrubbed the drip pans, top and outside of the oven door; and had coated the inside of the oven door with baking soda and peroxide. Then I went to sit down. And check Facebook. And play spider solitaire. And do some online window-shopping. After 35 minutes, I had managed to waste 35 minutes. Hmmmm…..June would be disappointed. So, I dragged myself back to the kitchen. The open oven door looked yucky with that brown pasty goop on it and I started thinking if I had just kept up with cleaning it the way I should (the way June would), it wouldn’t be such a big job now. Then I struggled to remember when I actually did clean the inside of the oven last. Wait, when did I actually use the oven last??…..oh, yeah, the cake – the broken dish – ugh.
Back to cleaning. The cupboards were shining, the counters cleared, floor vacuumed – I earned a cool drink. Ugh…how did the fridge get this dirty? Didn’t I just take it all apart and clean it last weekend?! No, I guess it wasn’t last weekend. When was it?? June Cleaver would clean her fridge every week. And, she’d remember it. Maybe if I try another room it won’t be so frustrating. Time to tackle the dining room. WHERE THE HECK did that big cobweb come from on the ceiling light?!?! And how does it get SO dusty inside a curio cabinet? Maybe I’ll vacuum. That’s easy, right? I’ll go through all the rooms and feel like I accomplished something. OH MY GOODNESS…..have I never moved this couch to vacuum back here?!?!?! I can not be THIS bad at housekeeping!! I am “June Cleaver of the 21st Century” darn it!!!
Ok, so maybe my June Cleaver aspirations are a little farther from reality than I’d like to admit. It’s really tough when reality seeps in and ruins the image you have of yourself. I don’t want to know how bad I am at things. It’s hard to face that we’re not as organized, accomplished, helpful, knowledgeable, or kind as we’d like to think. It’s hard to face that we’re….human.
We all have flaws. Many of us might be able to name a few of them. Some of us might even ‘own’ them. But many of us have flaws (or less-than-desirable traits) within ourselves that we don’t see. Those are the ones that sneak up on us – usually at the most inopportune moments. Like a haze that’s removed from a mirror, we finally see a truer reflection of who we are. Sometimes it’s not the image we want to see. That’s when we need to act right away. The power to change that image is within us. The trick is to really change the image, not just put the haze back to cover it up (which is easier). Change that is worth while is seldom easy, but, if we embrace the journey as we move from one place to another it becomes less oppressive. Celebrate every moment that you break away from the undesirable, no matter how small. Every moment we are striving to be a better part of this world is a moment to celebrate.
So, I will hang on to my June Cleaver dream. I will celebrate my clean oven today, knowing next month I will likely face this same moment when I open the oven again. I will make another chart (that I will stop following in 3 weeks) or create another household binder (that will sit on a shelf), or get new cloths or cleaners (that will clutter the cabinet, unused) but I will never live up to the June Cleaver image. That doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop believing that’s who I am meant to be, or that I’ll ever stop trying (sporadically) to fulfill that dream.
And now, I must go restart the washer for the second time since I forgot to take the laundry out and put it in the dryer yesterday.
Robyn you are relentless at telling the truth! I wouldn’t say I aspire to being June, although the way I deal with chaos in my life is cleaning the house, sometimes like a maniac. Guess it’s one way of pretending I am in control. And a shiny kitchen does look way better on those rare sunny days!