Mum’s the Word

My employers are gone on an overnight business trip, leaving me with all three to six boys from 5:20 this morning until 7:00 Friday night. This is almost easier than working alongside a parent, as I can rule with an iron fist and the children have no choice but to bow down before me or suffer the consequences.

But whenever my employers leave, the strangest urges come over me. I want to cook and clean, I think. I want to play with the children and wear slightly confining dresses. I want to be, in short, a ’50s housewife, only with all the comfort and social rights afforded to me in this modern day and age.

There’s no rhyme nor reason to it. I wander around the house, new age piano music emanating from the phone in my back pocket, dusting and scrubbing toilets and doing the children’s laundry. I run errands for the family, I make school snacks and dinner ahead of time, I vacuum, and I enjoy every menial minute of it.

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Just look how clean this table is. Look at it.

And I’ve realized, over the years, that this is because I have a passion for nesting. For housewifing.

It does absolutely nothing to counter the stereotypes about women homeschooled in Conservative Christian households, let me tell you. It’s even worse to try and explain it to the people I meet over here on the east coast, where being a stay-at-home mother isn’t frowned upon, but where you’re expected to have had at least the beginnings of a fulfilling career first.

To me, nannying is a fulfilling job, and the kind of thing I want to do for the rest of my life. Mind you, I’m 20 and this is highly subject to change. At this rate, I’m just waiting for the mythical age of 25 when everyone I know assures me that I’ll be fully mature and finally capable of making decisions I won’t regret later in life.

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Yes, even all the laundry.

Because, you know, nannying is just like motherhood, only the children aren’t yours and you can clock off at seven and let someone else deal with them while you get a sound night’s rest.

Bonus: On Tuesday Mrs. Parent asked if I could run and pick her up fourteen mums. We both agreed it would be better to try and fit them into my car, since it is old and not worth more than my yearly salary.

It turns out, having fourteen mums in the back of your car is rather pleasant, like a mobile garden, and a part of me wishes I could have kept them there. I felt like a druid.

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Of Cars, Cleaning, and Incompetence

I hate to be one of those women, but I just don’t “know” cars.

I like them all right. I feel confined and claustrophobic if I don’t have one, and I find them to be excellent at carrying me from one place to another, farther away place. I’ve always had a very slight interest in the inner workings of a car, but such an all-consuming aversion to most other aspects- racing, models, collecting, aesthetics, etc.- that I’ve been put off of learning more.

So when things go wrong in my corpse of a car, I get a little panicky. It’s a 1999 Saturn SW2 (which is nearly all I know about it), and when I bought it it was literally held together with duct tape.

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I added the silver piece today.

I bought it, of course, because it was cheap. Very cheap. Not very very cheap, but still quite cheap. A reasonable price for a 17 year old car with pretty low mileage that still runs all right.

Since then, I’ve had to bring it in for maintenance a few times, but over all it hasn’t cost me much and it still gets me to board game meetups, which is the really important bit. And yet, sometimes it will make a sound- like a clank or a brrrrr– that makes me instantly assume the mindset of, “MY CAR IS DYING, WHAT DO I DO?!”

It’s not the car’s fault, I’ve just consistently proven that I don’t know what I’m doing in them.

Take the last time I brought my car to the mechanic, for example. It had been a little noisier than usual, and not accelerating quite as easily as before, but I figured that was probably only to do with the fact that it was old and hated me. I brought it in to have the oil changed and the tires checked, and when they were through the cheerful mechanic pulled me aside, handed me the bill, and said, “Oh, by the way, did you know your muffler is gone?”

Just gone. At some point, somewhere, I had misplaced my muffler, and then not noticed for a considerable amount of time.

And for another example of my incompetence: Just yesterday, as I parked in a Starbucks for a hot milkshake in a cup, I tried to turn my car off and found that the key was stuck in the ignition. This has happened before, but not to such a severe extent. When my usual tricks didn’t work, I began my panicked Googling. I tried turning the wheel, I tried pushing and pulling, I tried reaching under the dash to fiddle about with the wires, but my car was having none of it.

Switching to another “How to get your key out of the ignition for dummies” page, I was presented with the words, “First, make sure your car is in ‘park.'”

Hah, I thought. What kind of idiot wouldn’t put their car in park before turning it off?

What kind indeed.

 

So today I cleaned out my car, and I’m still not sure I’m doing it correctly. I’m not sure how you would clean a car incorrectly, but if there’s a way, I’m sure I’m doing it wrong. Ma petite rouge (yes, that’s what I call my car) desperately needed to be cleaned, as the last time I had done so was approximately never. If I had gone this long without cleaning it back on the farm, I would have been ankle deep in hay, but fortunately the suburbs are a neater place.

I cleaned out the car mostly because I’m bringing it in again have the oil changed and the tires checked once more, and the mechanics don’t need to deal with a small landfill in their midst. Cleaning out a car always has a fun element to it, though; you often find things you haven’t seen in quite a while. These included:

  • A full set of Renaissance Faire garb from four faires ago
  • A tent stake and a pair of shorts from my last camping trip
  • My parasol
  • A deck of playing cards
  • Two ticket stubs from two different operas I was dragged to by my more cultured friend
  • Approximately 300 bobby pins
  • The card game “Gloom” that I had been missing for some time
  • The “New York Renaissance Faire 2016” mug I had forgotten I had purchased
  • The spider I have had living in my car for two months that I only ever spotted when I was doing 60 on a highway, causing me to swerve dangerously and pray that it didn’t choose to spring suddenly at my eyeball

(The spider was released to the outdoors.)

With all that done, my car was wiped down, the windshield was cleaned, and the floor was vacuumed. In the end, ma petite rouge was technically cleaner, but I can only compare it to wiping a rusted bucket down with disinfectant.

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Now I just need to tackle the sewing desk, which has the misfortune of being the closest available surface to my door.