The reason I hate cleaning or doing any house chores for that matter aside from practicing defiance against social expectations of a woman, is I am a very obsessive cleaner. Once I start there is no telling when I will be able to make it stop.
I typed this with pale fingers and an exhausted body after spending the better part of my Sunday cleaning the kitchen. It was inspired by guilt that since I had been away from home all week, the least I could do was wash the dishes I found in the sink when I woke up.
Just a handful of cups and plates was going to be enough to ease my conscience. Before I could even get to rinse them, I was pouring hot water out of the flask into the sink because I read somewhere that it cleans the sink better than the cold one.
It didn’t take long before I found my phone, connected it to the portable Bluetooth speaker and put some music on to accompany my manic display of tidiness.
At this point I had tied my T-shirt into a little knot to get it out of my way and my hair was tucked nicely into a pony tail.
I thought I would only clean the counters but the tiles above them were calling me. If it looked like a stain, I was going to get rid of it. I was pulling out scouring pads, tooth picks and pouring all quantities of detergent and vim.
Cabinets, their handles, kitchen towels including the clean ones had a whole makeover. This went on until 1pm when I started to get dizzy and realized I had skipped breakfast.
I was so ashamed. It is just two days since I came from the Tuwezeshe feminist leadership training, where more than anything the organizers and facilitators (Akina Mama Wa Afrika and Forward UK) emphasized the importance of self-care. The routine at the training was really great to practice self-care. I got up at 6am, said a prayer to feminist Jesus, went for morning yoga (which I thought was weird at first, but I, kept an open mind, conformed and it grew on me), went to stare at the lake for no apparent reason while I talked to my sister for 30 minutes, took a shower, got dressed had breakfast and headed into the day, stretched and fed. I did absolutely nothing but learn, unlearn, make friends, eat and take pictures. More women who have the privilege should once in a while, get away from taking care of everyone else and go stay at in a hotel for a few days.
If my kitchen stains taught me anything ,it is that there will always be something or some place or someone to clean. Unless someone is being paid for it, more women should take a break from it and take care of themselves. That is easy for me because I have no offspring whose well-being depends on me but society should cut women some slack or pay them for their domestic labor. (This isn’t even where I thought this was going to go but oh well.) Women are not naturally wired to cook and clean and pick up after grown humans and children.
Women taking care of themselves is labelled; indulgence,unnatural, laziness, selfish hence ungodly and unwomanly.
Whenever I sleep in at mother dearest’s house she always reminds me that women don’t have the luxury of waking up late. At my big age I get up from my bed or come up with an excuse like being tired from working late or not feeling well to stay in, the hustle is real. She has worked hard all her life, and she did the best she could with the hand she was dealt, but as much as I admire my mother and appreciate her hard work, I aspire to have the luxury of sleeping in.
Do you know what is more real? Women burning out from spreading themselves too thin while taking care of everyone else.
I have been going through a whole phase of self-evaluation because my gap year has come to an end, and I was feeling less than accomplished in the things I had set out to do, but more than that I felt lonely. Like there was absolutely no one in my many circles that I could reach out to. Part of it was in my head, part of it a result of my being the adult who is still learning the basics like asking for help and the most part was, I spread myself too thin. Became the friend who is always doing the most to keep everyone happy and together regardless of the cost.
The kitchen cleaning experience reminded me that women do this manual and emotional labor every day without even realizing that either way we lose. So choose yourself sis.
Block that stalker (these days you can even have them thrown to jail), talk to someone, ask for help, put the phone off, exercise, exit those WhatsApp groups, eat your food, and sleep your sleep. Nail self-care down to a routine or science like my friend Kuku Banana. The stains on your kitchen floor will still be there when you get back.
If you are already prospering at self care, share your secrets and routine otherwise I know it’s been a while, but how are you doing?