[Note: As short as this post is, I’ve incorporated material from two previously published essays (Tucson Citizen, July 1987; Themestream, January 2001). The revised Themestream essay eventually will be posted in its entirety on another (sorry about that) site. Until then, here is a preview.]
Give me a task, and I’ll do it well, unless, of course, it involves some sort of housework.
And there is a good reason why. As a toddler, I was terrorized by Mom’s vacuum cleaner, a baggy brown behemoth that roared through the house two or three times a week. When Mom wanted to run the vacuum cleaner, she had to conscript a relative to take me somewhere—anywhere.
My parents couldn’t figure out why I was so frightened by the darn thing. Who knows? (I certainly don’t.) Maybe the noise drove me crazy. Then again, one morning the machine came dangerously close to sucking up the cat. Maybe I thought it would get me next.
My histrionics, I mean hysterics, drove Mom and Dad a little crazy. Mom hoped it was just a phase I was going through. Even then, she looked forward to the day when I could start helping out around the house.
That finally happened when I was eight, and it lasted about ten minutes. I was no longer afraid of the vacuum cleaner. However, on my first try, I lost control of the machine, crashed into the china cabinet, demolished two table lamps, and knocked my little brother into a magazine rack.
“For Pete’s sake, Mary Frances,” Dad yelled, “do it yourself before she destroys everything.”
Unfortunately, Dad’s instinct for self-preservation condemned my mother to doing most of her own housework forever.