Monday, September 28, 2009


I had chores when I was growing up, but I have to admit I did not have as many as Nurse Jane and Katydid. [Although rumor has it that Katydid routinely went to the bathroom after dinner and stayed there until the dishes were done.] There were a lot more folks in the house for them to pick up after.

By the time I was of an age to do chores, Katydid and Nurse Jane were both married and out of the house, and Bobby had died. That just left me and Jack (when he wasn't in trouble or hitchhiking the country or living with some other relative) and my mom, so the work load wasn't tremendous. Except for the years when we had my step-father and a couple of step-brothers in the house.

I had to wash dishes every night, which I H-A-T-E-D with a passion. Again, my life could have been much worse. According to Nurse Jane, Mom stood over her while she washed the dishes and tossed most of the pieces back into the dishwater because they were not up to her standards.

You just can't BE up to Mom's standards.

We never had a dishwasher, except me. One thing I find interesting looking back, though, is the fact that we never had to DRY the dishes. We had a drain rack next to the sink where the dishes were allowed to air dry (did you know that restaurants are required to do that? at least in our state). I find that out of character for my mother, who was so ... so ... anal? ... let's just say peculiar ... about many other things. The bed had to be made to military standards, quarter bouncing and all that. And GOD FORBID anyone would ever sit on Mom's bed. Anyone who made the mistake of doing that one time resolved never to do it again, as soon as he/she peeled him/herself off the ceiling. I didn't see the point of making up a bed, only to return to it later that same day. I'm sure we fought about it often. Now, however, I make my bed every single morning.

I especially hated washing the pots and pans. Mother believed in cooking large meals, complete with a meat and at least two vegetables, along with her delicious biscuits. The pots and pans would pile up, and I glowered at them as I started doing the dishes. Occasionally Mom would wash those first and leave the other dishes for me to do, and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

Mom also believed the kitchen floor should be swept every night after dinner. Only we called it supper. I didn't see the point in that either, but I realize that if you sweep every night, the floor stays a lot cleaner and you don't have to call in the heavy equipment for the weekend cleaning. I still don't sweep it every night, but I'm getting better. No I'm not, but I had to finish that sentence with something.

Folding clothes was another of my chores. I think we finally got a dryer when I was about twelve years old. That meant I didn't have to hang clothes out on the line anymore, but it also meant they needed to be folded SOONER. And I sucked at it, at least according to Mom's standards. Yeah, those. She could take a twelve-point star-shaped garment and make it perfectly square and flat and wrinkle-free. I have never learned how to fold a fitted sheet. I usually wind up just sort of wadding it all up and stuffing it in the folded flat sheet and cramming the whole set in the bathroom closet. I hope my mother never looks in my linen closet.

I had an epiphany one day while folding towels. I was probably in my early thirties, or at least my late twenties. I was carefully folding the towels longways into thirds, then half and half again. It suddenly occurred to me that I could fold my towels ANY WAY I WANTED TO. What freedom! I immediately came up with my own way of folding towels, and I deliberately made it most unlike Mom's method. They aren't pretty, but they're folded.

I could, if I were a person more comfortable in her skin, admit that Mom's folded towels are much neater than mine and more attractive on the shelf.

But since I'm not, I won't.

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