Thursday, August 14, 2008


looking at my post from yesterday, it occurred to me that I am always saying to my kids that "we had to do chores EVERY day, and we couldn't do anything else till they were done" as some sort of retarded parent comment that is supposed to motivate them to run around and clean up my house before they go to an activity -- what it actually elicits is an empty "yes ma'am" from the boy, rolled eyes from the youngest and a weak effort to carry some imaginary piece of lint to the trash can to escape, and an argument from the oldest about how she already did 84 hours of chores (translate, dropped a load of towels in the warsher, and didn't even dry them yet) and she has a job and the others don't and it's too hot to pick up dog crap, plus she just showered and she has to be whereever in like 4 minutes and the other sister just finally got out of the bathroom and now she's gonna be late and we said that as long as she was doing the laundry the other two had to do the rest (ps. my laundry pile is larger than it has EVER been, I would estimate that it would take 3-4 days of constant laundry to catch up at this point -- which I will be starting on when I get home tonight... I will also just be doing all of the housework all night long, while they sit in front of a paused t.v. NOT watching the Olympics because they will have to wait for me to finish their chores).

Alas, this is not about my plans to guilt the little darlings (read brats) into helping out -- this is about my cataloging the various chores we did growing up -- keeping in mind there were a gazillion of us -- though at one point in time, due to some sort of confusion on my parents part, there were a couple of YEARS when only my one sister and I were at home full time, followed by a brief year or so that I was the only kid at home!

We (girls) did all of the interior housework -- dusting, glass, vacuuming, dishes, sorting mail (we actually had mailboxes because there were so many of us), bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, cleaning light fixtures, stripping, mopping, waxing floors, trash, laundry (mostly folding, mom did most of the washing) -- they (boys) did most of the outside work -- mowing, wood chopping, cleaning up dog crap (which was WAY easy cuz mom would let us just turn the hose on blast and blast it across the lawn into the drainage ditch!), painting, nailing, fence repair, watering (mom did most of that), cleaning the deck, and taking out the trash -- they also had to do any heavy lifting or crap like that -- now, my parents were not completely chauvinistic -- the boys had to take turns vacuuming the dining room every night, they had to help with dinner dishes and clearing the table, they had to help with heavy housework like windows, cleaning the store room, etc. -- and the girls had to help outside, like gardening, and we were allowed to mow the back (flat) lawn, but not the front (giant hill), no matter how much we begged (I know, sick, but we did beg to mow the front) and chopping wood, particularly if you were hungover, you would be asked to go outside and "split some wood for the fire" -- it wouldn't matter at all if all the boys had been hungover the previous morning and there were already two cords of split wood -- you had to go "split enough to last all week" -- I never did know what that meant, I don't think anyone did, what it actually meant was go do it until someone came to call you in for a meal or someone came out and said "okay that's enough go help your _____(insert other parent)". Also, I had pet rabbits, and I had to muck out the rabbit pen every few weeks, it was a huge pen for only a couple of rabbits, so it could go like a month without being bothered with (rabbit poo doesn't stink, but their urine does) -- and then I had to "compost" the straw/poo/etc. from the rabbit pen -- which meant I had to get in the compost and turn that -- ugh... mucking out a rabbit pen is work, but sort of feel good work, turning compost just sucks. In between that mom would occasionally send someone to turn the compost instead of splitting wood -- you know when there was no more unsplit logs -- or we had enough split wood to start sharing with the neighbors. And really -- all of this only took maybe 30 minutes a day and once in awhile a weekend where you spent several hours one weekend day -- but if we were all working our asses off on a weekend, we could count on some awesome dinner and dessert and probably some beers with dad at the end of the day. And most of us liked to be home, it was a great place to be, we laughed all the time, we did silly shit to each other, and our friends were always welcome, and we never batted an eye at "yeah come on over, but I'm cleaning the rabbit pen" -- most friends would just watch, some would grab a pitchfork and help -- my best friend in high school would actually do a better job on the kitchen than me, and then I would be busted for not having done it myself. I remember that at the point where it was just my sister and I at home, every wednesday we would "clean house" -- we would put on an 8-track of Donna Summer or some equally upbeat awesome disco dancing around music and just go mach 3 dusting, glass cleaning, vacuuming, putting crap away, bathrooms, etc. for about an hour, and then we would start dinner -- The rest of the week we just did little stuff that mom asked "run this down to the store room", fold this load of whites, etc. -- Then on Saturday a.m., Dad would wake us up at the buttcrack of dawn (well to a teenager and a pre-teen it seemed the buttcrack anyhow, it was probably like 730am -- and we would have to pull weeds, mow the back, etc. -- and usually one or more brothers would wander in around mid-day (probably looking for food) to pick up their mail and would maybe mow the front, or turn the compost or some other crappy chore, and then convince us they had really done us a favor and we should do something for them -- usually cleaning their nasty ass bathroom, sometimes their cars, sometimes hooking them up with some girl (well my sister, my friends were all in 6th grade, and that's nasty). Then when I was home alone, I had it easier actually -- sort of -- fewer saturday mornings pulling weeds (mom hired a guy!), and just the usual dishes, vacuum, fold laundry, clean the girls bathroom (which took like 6 minutes, no one used the tub, girls don't splash pee everywhere, so it was really simple) -- then came the "little brothers" (foster brothers that moved in after we were all grown and gone) -- they didn't do shit -- I think they took out the trash occasionally and maybe mowed the yard once a summer -- well that's how it looked from my side of the fence, I'm sure they were doing stuff, it just wasn't noticeable.

Lastly, every Sunday, forever, was family day. We would run around during the day possibly, and only some of us would go to church with dad -- but the evening was family time, and everyone's friends had an open invitation -- I don't think a single Sunday went by that we didn't have someone there, usually a few someones -- even sometimes Mom's or Dad's friends, usually ours though. Mom made spaghetti every Sunday -- EVERY Sunday (except Easter and Mother's Day) and people would show up and eat. It was the only time we didn't eat in the dining room actually, some did, but usually people just sort of ate whereever, if my sister had her boyfriend over, they might eat at the kitchen counter -- if my brother had his friends over, they might eat downstairs in the "rec room" -- we didnt' have a family room, we had a mostly unfinished room, with some little panelling sections here and there on one side of the room around a pool table, and bare concrete on the other walls, it did have built in bookshelves on one wall for all of mom's books, an a t.v. and an old ratty couch -- which was eventually replaced by an equally old ratty couch -- and a piece of leftover carpet just laying on the concrete floor on the t.v. side of the room. There was a "bar" - which was more like a workbench with a hunk of formica on it and some barstools under the bar were a bunch of MARKED bottles of booze. And if there was a football game on, everyone would gather in the rec room and eat while watching the Broncos. If it was a home game, mom and dad were at the game and the only difference was one of us girls had made the sauce and there were two more seats in the rec room to sit in. Occasionally if several of someone's friends showed up, that group would eat in the dining room or out on the deck -- and you never knew who would be there. I had a few friends that were really very regular, one that even came nearly every week (I think his mom was a bad cook and he liked the idea of good food once a week), and I can remember different friends of my siblings being pretty regular -- and then there would be the surprises -- years after my brothers had moved out, one of their friends would show up at the back door and ask if we were having spaghetti, mom would be in her very best mood because one of her "kids" was back and she would have made them stay til she whipped up a batch if there weren't one, but there always was. Every one in the neighborhood called my parents Ma and Pa, and everyone knew they could stop in for spaghetti. Years later mom told all of us that she hates red sauce, lol. Now when we have her over on our spaghetti nights, we all make some sort of optional sauce.

1 comment:

baseballmom said...

That's so awesome...I love the idea of being the place where all of the kids just hang out. I don't care if it's a pain sometimes, I love being the mom who the kids want to see!