I called out of work for the first time in over a year the other day – which let me just say is huge because I never call out. But I had a lousy cold, I ached all over, my right ear hurt and I just couldn’t muster any amount of energy to tackle my shift. It was my husband’s day off in general that day (his day to be Mr. Mom) and he actually asked me if, since I was going to be home (seriously, I was only home because I was sick) if he could go to work. I gave him an emphatic “absolutely not” and probably the finger in response to this ridiculous request. I felt like absolute shit and just wanted to sleep. I did make sure the boys got on the bus in the morning and that my husband got up in time to take our daughter to preschool and then I went back to bed. The next thing I knew it was 1:30 in the afternoon and I was being woken up by my daughter who was hold a cup of soup for me. Sweet – yes it was. At this time I was feeling a little more human thanks to a solid 5 extra hours of sleep. I even managed to get up and go downstairs and that’s when I noticed it – my downstairs was clean. It was “Man Clean!!!”
Let me preface this with the fact that I keep a pretty organized and cleanly house. I am not a fan of clutter, but with three kids, sometimes things are inevitably. However, I do my best to stay on top of the stuff that accumulates. I clean every day. I also make it a point to sweep and vacuum on a regular basis, thanks in part to our two dogs and children that like to make messes in general. That being said, the night before I called out was Halloween and the house was looking pretty disorganized thanks in part to my being sick (cleaning didn’t happen that day) and the kids dumping their Halloween loot all over. Fast forward 12 hours and it looked pretty good. The kitchen counters and table were cleaned off and the essence of chaos was gone. Give the man a gold star – right – WRONG! While I love my husband dearly, I also know my husband very well. So instead of being gracious I was annoyed. Why you ask? How can I have such a reaction to such a wonderful gesture? Because my husband’s idea of cleaning and straightening up is to throw things out. The moment I saw how clean it was I knew the chance of important papers and stuff surviving “Man Clean” wasn’t good. I started questioning where certain things were and was met with the generic answers of “I didn’t know you still needed that” (well duh I did and you didn’t ask) and “oh please you don’t even know what I got rid of” (hmm do you really want to go there?). The final straw was when I realized he’d thrown out a notebook of mine that according to him I hadn’t used in months – he’d looked in it to check he said. That’s when I lost my shit and started yelling….
Women are methodical and highly organized creatures. We have a system when it comes to running out households and don’t take lightly to disruptions in that system. Especially when those disruptions are based on an unorthodox type of cleaning known as “Man Clean.” Ever wife and mom is familiar with “Man Clean.” It comes in varying forms and varying degrees but it exists to drive a woman crazy. While disguised as clean, “Man Clean” generally upsets the delicate balance of “Woman Clean” because the woman usually has to undo, redo, or fix the “Man Clean.” “Man Clean” generally only glazes over the tip of the cleaning spectrum. It doesn’t usually encompass the down and dirty cleaning required, but merely seeks to make the surface look presentable. Lift up, look behind, or look under something and I guarantee that that’s where the cleaning ends. The day my husband “Man Cleaned” he spent so much time straightening up (aka throwing things out) that nothing else got done. The dishwasher still needed to be emptied and then loaded, the house swept – he only vacuumed the rugs (sorry honey but that’s only half done), the laundry folded and put away, and the remaining groceries put away. So after I undid his “Man Clean” (yup I had to go through the garbage to find my notebook) I still had to proceed to “Woman Clean” everything that hadn’t been touched.
And all day yesterday I put “Woman Clean” in to full effect. The entire house, top to bottom was subjected to a full fledged “Woman Clean” effort. Dusting, vacuuming, laundry, disinfecting, etc. Every room was spotless by the time he got home. He was complimentary, which I appreciated, however I wasn’t taking the chance that he’d do any more “Man Cleaning” any time soon, or at least any that would completely disrupt my delicate balance.