Saturday, February 26, 2011

On the Warpath

Saturdays were clean-the-house days when I was growing up.

My mother worked a 40-hour job and her evenings were filled with fixing dinner, helping my brother and me with homework, and doing laundry or other activities. So the weekend meant time to clean.

Mom liked a clean house but she did not care much for cleaning (a sentiment I inherited, I fear). My brother and I had chores - cleaning our room, dusting, etc., which increased as we aged. But some weeks things seemed to get out of hand - maybe we had too much homework to help out, or we were just especially sloppy for some reason.

You know, those moments when it seems the dirt has taken over even though you know you just cleaned up a week ago.

On those days, my father would find me in my room or in front of the TV. "Your mother is on the warpath," he would warn. "I'm going out." And he would vanish to cut wood or ride the tractor - anything but stay around the house.

Because Mom could get a little crazy. She'd start yelling at us to clean our rooms, or clear the table, or whatever. Sometimes she threw things. I think she woke in a mood and it just spilled out. "You're nothing but pigs! Living in slop!" she'd yell. "I work all week and you're the most ungrateful bunch! I have to clean up after you all the time!"

This was unfair and not true - I did my share, for sure - but when Mom was on the warpath there was nothing to do but hunker down and find something to do that involved cleaning. You surely did not want to talk to back.

Fortunately this did not happen every Saturday. Generally we all rose and performed our chores. But sometimes, that warpath came along. Then everybody had better watch out! I was well into adulthood before I realized she wasn't angry at me; she was just having a really bad day because she was tired and didn't want to be cleaning. It is tough to be grown up and have to deal with all of those responsibilities sometimes.

Last night I told my husband I wanted to sleep late. I did not set the alarm.

At 6:30 a.m. this morning he woke me to kiss me goodbye as he headed for the cattle lot. "Go back to sleep," he said.

Um. Yeah. Of course, I could not go back to sleep and when I sat up, my head throbbed. I had a day of housework ahead of me, and I needed to study, too. I did not need a headache. But I had a doozy.

Then the toilet stopped up. With my husband safely out of earshot, he could not hear my curses while I hunted up the plunger and proceeded to unstop the commode. Nothing kills my morning like dealing with poo, I must say.

Then the handle fell off the closet door. I put that back on. Grumble. Grumble.

He had left the coffee on the kitchen counter and when I went to put it in the cabinet, it slipped from my hand. The lid wasn't secure and coffee went everywhere.

"Nothing but a pig," I said aloud. "Living in slop!"

I opened the refrigerator to find an empty mayonnaise jar. "Can't he at least put this in the trash?" I huffed. I hurled the jar into the trash can with a satisfying thump. "I have to clean up after him all the time!"

And then I was on the warpath.

The next thing I knew, I had tossed practically everything in the refrigerator in the trash. Old apples and grapes, leftovers from earlier in the week - it all went. Thump. Whap. Clank.

My ire not yet sated, I proceeded to clean the oven. Then I opened the cabinet where the coffee was stowed and threw everything in there in the garbage - packs of Jello gelatin, spices, pudding, fudge brownie mix, soup mixes - it all hit the trash can. Thump. Whap. Thump. Thump.

When I finished, I wiped my brow. The aspirin was kicking in; my headache was lessening. That cabinet had needed cleaning out for sometime and it felt good to have that little chore off my back. There was more to do, but now I could do it with a little less force.

Still, when my husband came in, I scowled at him for dirtying up dishes for lunch. I informed him the toilet had troubled me yet again. I didn't stop to eat with him but proceeded to run the vacuum. My warpaint had faded but I still needed to scrub some of it off, I think.

He said little, but went back out to the barn. And then around 4:15 p.m., he called to tell me he was in Daleville. He'd stopped at the grocery and bought a pre-cooked chicken and some potato salad so I wouldn't have to cook.

Warpath gone.

I try very hard not to channel my mother, but I think every woman must have days when she feels like she is the only one who cares if the house is clean and she is tired of cleaning the bathtub. Housework is never ending. No wonder it drove my mother crazy.

I guess if I'd had kids, they would have those times when they would say, "Mom is on the warpath." I'll have to ask my brother if that happens at his house.


  1. Love this post and oh, how true that we ladies can feel a bit taken advantage of now and then.. David used to help clean without asking but as we are aging he needs to be reminded that a bit of help now and then is very much appreciated.. It's hard to ask him though when he works all week and I don't, but the aches and pains of age find it necessary that I ask sometimes.

    Cleaning just isn't on my fun list.

    Great post!

  2. P.S. Love all the green on your blog today... Very much looks like springtime!

  3. I haven't heard someone talk about a mom being on the warpath for decades! My mom is a professional artist, and likes a clean house, but not the cleaning part so much. Yes, I channel her occasionally. Then hug and kiss everybody at the end of the day and let them know I am tired.

    Your post made me laugh! I think many of us have shared those days, and isn't it wonderful how little it takes to scrub off the war paint when we live with people who love us?

  4. Sis,
    I wear the War Paint regularly. I channel Mother all the time, for I know that thru her I can be the hateful, arrogant, SOB that gets the job done. I rant all the time about a clean house. Just ask your niece and nephew. They know when Dad says " You better get your a** up there and clean that room!", that they better scurry. I stay on the War Path, I am Mother made over. But what I would give to hear here say. "Now Son, is that any way to be?" Because then I would get the satifaction of saying "Yep. I get from you!" LOL!! Which in my opinion is the greatest complement I can ever give her. For I know I am just like her!. Glad to to see I'm not the only "Indian" in the family!! NExt time you need some help throwing things, please call me so I can come throw stuuff too!!!



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