My daughter admired my housekeeping—which made me feel like a scrub. But why?
It all began when my 4-year-old daughter, Lili, told me she wanted to be like her dad- “a scientist who helps keep people safe.” Having quit my full-time job as an editor to be home with her, I wondered how she'd describe me. I still write, but only for a few hours each week and mostly while she sleeps. So I asked her, “And in which ways would you like to be like me?” I waited, watching her little tongue work the outside of her mouth as she thought hard for an answer. “I wish I could clean the floor like you do.”CRASH. My ego lay in pieces at my feet. And the floor wasn't even clean.
What she'd said upset me for two reasons. First, no one with 20/20 vision could call my cleaning skills good. Second, I had never considered myself a homemaker, a domestic engineer, or whatever words you want to use to describe a person who stays home while his or her partner brings in the money. Had I deluded myself?
I swallowed my pride and turned things to my advantage. “Let me show you how to clean the floor,” I told her. The rug got mopped along with the hardwood, but all things considered, she did a good job. Still, my heart sank. Was I bringing up my daughter to believe that cleaning was something to aspire to?
I decided to shift some chores to my husband so I'd have time to show our daughter that Mom's good at other Very Important Things.