Quick Thought: Adventures in Housecleaning

There is a family Thing this weekend [Morgan’s maternal family] and I’m doing a lot of cleaning. As I’m scrubbing the floors, cleaning the sinks, doing litter boxes and taking out trash, I’m thinking about my mom.

Not that she does most of those things; We’ve had housekeepers my whole life. She never taught me to do these things – most of it I learned from Google or asking other people.

But, when I was twenty, and had a GPA of 4.0, and having a depressive episode that made me drop the only two classes I was signed up for (Mom actually told me not to sign up at all, I “sounded burned out”), she came for a visit. She came over an hour early and let herself in; the apartment was locked by a keypad and she knew the combination.

Not long after seeing the place, she told me We Need to Talk.

That instantly puts me in a surreal state. When mom says We Need to Talk, it always ends badly for me.

This time was no different:

I dropped the classes (that she originally told me not to register for).
I had no food in the fridge.
I was “living in squalor.”

Verdict: The college thing was a “failure” and she couldn’t let it continue.

I’ll admit the apartment was in bad shape – monster load of laundry, dishes not cleaned, Stuff everywhere. It was dirty in some places, not just messy. But, here is the thing. First, it’s my understanding that this is not atypical for college living. Secondly, if you know your kid struggles with executive function and depression, and you’ve never taught them how to cook or clean, this should be a teaching moment. Teach me to clean. Teach me to cook. Teach me to organize.

Instead, she said I’d have to move home, work for my dad, and, of course, get rid of my cats. Because I couldn’t perform functions I was never taught to do, and my mom couldn’t be bothered to teach them.

The running theme you’ll find, really, is that my mom sabotages me repeatedly. She’ll tempt me by offering me things, and then either take them once I have them, or have a tantrum of some kind that is meant to throw me off balance so she can “rescue” me again.

Meanwhile, I live in a place, with Morgan and his mom, and his mom has never made me feel bad during the times I get behind on things. She’s never made me feel bad if I’m slow to learn routines, or have depressive episodes where everything falls back over. The lack of pressure makes me want to succeed. I see the things she does, because she does literally everything herself, and want to be like her.

Morgan and my therapist assure me that I don’t need to be that awesome, lest I burn out, but I have to say that cleaning the bathroom floor here beats the shit out of living with my parents and having a housekeeper do it for me.


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