Wouldn’t it be spiffy if I could end my story right there? I lived my life in a Pledge commercial happily ever after. The end.
I had learned some really great skills, tips and techniques for keeping house, many of which I will share later in this book, but I still held on to some wrong thinking that did not work well for me. First was my idea of what work was, or was not, my responsibility. I believed that all work within the four walls of our home was within my jurisdiction. Cooking, cleaning, decorating, and diaper dunking were my jobs. Beyond these, I graciously tended the garden because, for one thing, it was intrinsically part of my job as hippie/cook; and, for another, I enjoyed it. Everything else belonged to Dan. A fair division of labor seemed a righteous cause.
I believed that my job was to clean the house, to keep the children bathed and potty-trained, and to assure that the two pound chub of liverwurst I bought on sale last week got used before turning green in the refrigerator. I had my job. Dan had his. He was supposed to finish the brick planter and to put a door on the shed. I also expected to be entirely free of any consequences from his failure to do so. I shoved things into the shed haphazardly, and left boxes and debris flowing out into the yard without any sense of personal responsibility. It wasn’t my job. Why should I care?
Our yard looked like a poorly run flea market. Strangers would randomly stop by and ask if I were having a yard sale. For a short time I worked at home as the bookkeeper for the Christian school that was housed in my church. Once, when my boss stopped by to drop off some receipts, she got upset because I had not told her I was moving.
“What gave you the idea that I was moving?” I asked.
“You clearly have things boxed up and stacked in the yard!”
“Oh, no,” I responded, “my husband just isn’t as organized as I am.”
She looked at me like I was the stupidest woman on earth. Maybe I was.
That day she took the ledgers away from me and told me that I would have to do all my work at the office. The main reason I had taken the job was that I had been able to work from home. I don’t really remember whether I quit shortly after that, or I was fired, but I felt I had been treated very unfairly.
The worst thing about having a messy yard was the trailer park manager. She banged on my door at least once a week. Sometimes I answered. Sometimes I hid. Most times she left threatening notices on my door. One time while I was hiding and peeking out the front window, she walked through the yard and snapped pictures. I assumed that she intended to use them in court. I was angry at my husband. Why didn’t he just clean things up out there? Why should this be my problem? I was doing my job: Why wasn’t he doing his?