Personal is Political: cleaning house

Him: Do you own a broom?
Me: I think so. (pause) Um, I used to.
Him: This is right up there with your microwave.
Okay, so maybe I’m not the most fastidious cleaner in the world. I was raised by one of those moms who believed a little dirt doesn’t hurt. I adopted this worldview, avoiding hand-santizer (I think it just makes our immune systems less robust) and strictly adhering to the five second rule when it comes to any dropped piece of chocolate. I’m fairly orderly, but clean? Well, I just feel that most of the time I have way better things to do. Sometimes, if I’m really pissed off or anxious, cleaning feels great. But otherwise, it’s just not really my thing.
Enter new honey. He’s clean. Like really, really clean. He grew up with a mother who wasn’t above the white glove test after he’d scrubbed the bathroom or pitched in after a kitchen clean-up. Her six kids were her angels, but they were also her own personal cleaning crew. This new honey is not impressed with my cleaning repertoire.
The good news is that he tells me this nicely, and the great news is, that he’s down to clean in my sorry stead. The interesting thing is that I actually felt a little ashamed when all this first came to light. “Am I dirty?” I asked myself, as I lay in bed reading while he scrubbed my microwave. It wasn’t as if I was asking, “Am I a bad woman?” but a part of me did feel like my little wave of shame was very gendered. I wondered if his disapproval of my cleaning standards would make him think I was sloppy writ large (read less attractive) or, gasp, that I didn’t have it all together. Like some Mad Men character caught with her dishes unwashed and her hair a mess, I felt a little sheepish.
Luckily, this passed pretty quickly as I realized, “Holy shit, I just found myself a partner who not only doesn’t mind my substandard cleaning capacities, but doesn’t mind cleaning while I lay in bed and read.” This isn’t gender parity or domestic subversion people. This is nirvana.

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