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I'm Alison, that's my little boy Finn, and we are absolutely thrilled to have you at BrocanteHome!

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Sunday, 7 February 2010

Housekeepers Question Time!

I'm rather late with Housekeepers Question Time this week.
I got a little waylaid de-cluttering the bookshelves and boxing up more than one hundred books ready for who knows what and then my fragile little ego took something of a battering when a random nasty stranger, going by the names of both Don't Clean and Dirty_Girl took the time to email me and with all the literacy of a stoned baboon informed me that BrocanteHome was "a waste of time an easy way to make money get a job and get a life" and as a result I wasted all of Friday night feeling oddly shaken by the ramblings of a cowardly lunatic, dithering about where one buys a life and wondering just how mad you would have to be to imagine that choosing a writing life has ever been an easy way to make money.

Truth is I'm not sure the word easy describes a single aspect of single mothering a scrumptious, but spirited child with a little collection of small but significant health issues of his own, while keeping a roof over our heads, answering my creative call and still being available to run to school should poor scissor skills result in yet another bloodied finger, or the accidental ingestion of gluten, in projectile vomiting. Life is hard. All day every day. And I am truly grateful that the small success that is Brocante allows me to improve life one day at a time for both my family and yours, regardless of what any old grimy nay sayers might spout.

Still, even the snarkiest of wounds heal and so by yesterday I was so over feeling irrationally weepy and my precarious emotional state had progressed into fully-fledged "if it's standing still, bin it" mode, to the degree that poor darling Richard nearly went for a Burton as a result, with P.M.T. making me susceptible to quite the most vicious of clear-outs, of the kind that three hours later, horror at what I'd done, had me leaning into the proverbial wheelie bin at midnight in search of a little something I was mad to throw away!

So it has been a funny old weekend, but all this hysterical book chucking, loony tolerating nonsense is by the by now, when pre-scrub, rather random curiosity is burning me to such a degree I can't help wondering, sitting here on the quietest of Sunday afternoons, what you will be wearing to scrub in: whether you my Darling Housekeepers come from the grungy, or glamorous school of home-making?

You see every morning, I get up, get showered, apply a full face of make-up and get dressed and then, and only then am I able to contemplate pulling the laundry out of the machine or running a duster over the mantle-piece.
I just can't clean if I feel dirty, and truth be told if I haven't clogged up my pores with foundation, climbed into clean underwear and pulled on my really scary spotty slipper socks, then dirty is exactly what I feel and without motivation I will skulk around in my nightie with a large mug of builder's brew in my hand until the early hours of the afternoon, achieving exactly nothing and mentally berating myself for being a layout!

I need to feel pretty to make pretty.

My Mum on the other hand is only really, capable of housework prior to showering and once she has washed away the home-making grime dusting her skin, she simply wouldn't dream of cleaning the oven in her best frock and lip-gloss. To her one gets the housework out of the way, then gets dressed and attends to the more important business of having a life beyond one's four walls.

Where her role as a housewife has clearly defined boundaries, my day is the carefully orchestrated jumble common to those who work from home. Housework fits in amongst everything else and one can quite easily find oneself running in from delivering a child to school (where it isn't the done thing to arrive in your dressing gown on the premise that you have got to get back to the ironing!), taking coffee with a friend, baking a quiche, doing three loads of laundry, writing five thousand words of literary genius (ahem), doing an impromptu cleaning of the loo, pulling out some weeds, talking to the headmistress and dashing to the post office before it closes: all in the same clothes. All in the kind of eye make up that says "don't mess with me Dishwasher/Headmistress/Ex-Husband/Laundry Basket", scented by a rather charming combination of Obsession and ammonia and wearing the kind of trousers that will neither tear nor reveal my bottom should I have to get down on my hands and knees to crawl under a bush on the playground and rescue the water bottle my six year old son has seen fit to use as bowling ball.

But it isn't just the fact that in my very own housekeepers uniform I am ready to battle with whatever comes my way: there is also a question of self-esteem. Somehow my senses are more alert when I feel nice. I am less likely to half-do a job in a dozy fashion when I dressed and wearing eye make-up. Add high heels and I am a housekeeping wonder shimmying around like the lady in the Shake and Vac advert and ticking off boxes on my to-do list with all the efficiency of a shoulder pad toting businesswoman. Throw a snazzy coat into the mix and I dash around the house as if my life depended on it.

And so to get to the point my friends, my question this week is are you with me or my mum? Do you wear make up to de-fluff the tumble dryer? Do you feel the urge to bathe after you have cleaned the bath? Do you water the plants in your nightie or do as a friend I know does and keep a cupboard full of "cleaning clothes"? Do you have a housekeeping uniform?  Do you clean the shower naked in a nod to multi-tasking or hoover in your knickers aka Rita Konig?

When it comes to housekeeping m'dear are you glamorous or grungy?


Kate said...

I'm a full make up kinda girl, can't operate without my lippy on.
I've got a busy week coming up so I'm going to do the scrub on and off this week then do more next week.
Have fun this week

Anonymous said...

I definitely need a pretty apron on over my dress. Perhaps a slick of lipgloss and a spray of scent, but I am definitely not a full makeup or high heels girl( they ruin my wooden floors!)As for your beastly emailer, well I'm going to dash over and subscribe to the scrub-in right now :)I think you are doing an amazing job as a mum, a homekeeper and as the sole earner for your family. Oh, and the dangling into the wheelie extricating treasures...who hasn't been there! Gill.

loxiemom said...

I usually clean in my nice clothes and then regret it-especially when cleaning the bathtub. About the jerk who wrote to you-ignore her. You have made for yourself a wonderful life so far and you have so many fans who feel blessed to share your company. She's probably just jealous.

Gena said...

Alison....I feel like swearing!but I wont.How dare that person speak to you like that!!!! how dare they? It is rude,very untrue and just who are these people who make sweeping judgements in such a cowardly manner? Grrrr! Ahem,anyways,I dress to the nines for most things,it gives me self confidence,even if I am wearing jeans and T shirt I will glam it up with a sparkly scarf and a bit of lip gloss,I do love a pinny though.xx

Anonymous said...

I am new to your site and I find it very helpful and inspiring. It is a rare talent to help people find their own satisfaction in doing things they need to do, but don't always want to do, (also known as housework)! Please do not let anyone negate your abilities. I find it helpful to not read anything during PMT,(as you call it),that does not have chocolate attached!
In answer to the question: housecleaning clothes, no makeup, and my grandmother's apron when I need to channel a little "no nonsense".
many thanks for all of your work on this site. You are doing an amazing job!

Pamela Angus said...

For me housework is most definitely a chore but when needs must and I feel the need for everything to be just so I do need to 'get in character' and dress for the occasion. high heeled boots bring a certain discipline to the event :)
and don't take any heed of the cybernutters!!!

BERTIE x said...

Oh Alison I'm sorry you received such a jealous email. Don't ever doubt who you are, and what you do. You are a gem. As for my cleaning uniform, well I'm in the middle. I like to be presentable, and not scare the world with my unmade face and bed hair. But a girls got to be comfy when she's getting down to business hasn't she? So it's no high heels or cocktail dresses for me.
Bertie x

Anonymous said...

Some people need to be smacked. Cyber Smacking just does not cut the mustard! If people are offended or don't like what you are doing - then leave and don't come back!

GRUNGY for the dirty cleaning -ovens bathrooms etc and a frilly apron (with ipod pocket) for the fun cleaning and fluffing around. Vacumming and dusting.

V. said...

People who send those rude and angry sort of emails are usually sad and jealous and not worth thinking about. We do seem to dwell on those sort of emails, though, rather than those who say nice things, that's human nature I guess.

I can't do housework in clean clothes - I have to do all the dirty work then have a shower and then everything's clean, including me!

Dinah Soar said...

I figure homemaking is my job, so I 'dress' for it. Casual comfortable clothes that would also be fine if I had to run out to the store. I always 'do' my hair but I only put on make up if I know know for certain I'm going to be out and about, otherwise I figure it's a waste of make up. Mind you when I was younger I always put the make up on for hubby. But he says he can't tell the difference and after 42 years of marriage, I decided I'd take advantage of that bit of knowledge.

And that snarky person...I'd say they were jealous of you. You have a talent, a gift and you are using it. Why shouldn't you?

melissa said...

I feel much better, all around, when I'm all clean and shiny, and makeup is a must. Could never clean without my eyeliner on either. I totally get you!

And sorry about the party pooper who made you hurt inside. Sometimes women (esp. online) can be such a trial.

I think you're pretty cool, and have for all these five years. :)

sbgirl said...

I start every day with a shower and clean clothes, and ALWAYS make-up and hair style, because one never knows who may show up at the door, or if I must suddenly dash out, at least I look presentable. I don't even go downstairs until I'm "dressed to shoes." When I'm cleaning, I wear clothes I don't mind getting messy, and sneakers, but I always wear an apron; a heavy duty one for heavy duty jobs, and a pretty flowery ruffly one for most else. Putting on the apron signifies getting down to work. If I get really sweaty/grubby then I'll take another quick shower before I go to bed.

Nadine Bates-Cusack said...

Dear Brocante,

I'm an Aussie mother of two little boys, (5 and 3) and an avid lover of your blog. No, not because you are deliciously vintage or because you have the ability to make housework actually sound like some kind of lavender scented fun. The reason that I will daily check my Brocante Home site is that you are real. I'm a writer, I write children's lit and poetry and I can recognize quality writing when I see it. You, my dear Alison, can write and whether or not I could give two scrumptious kittens worth of a shit about housekeeping is completely besides the point. Your writing is about life, about vulnerability, about motherhood and what it is to intrinsically be a woman. Do me a favour and don't give that raving psych a second thought. I truly hope you told them to fuck off in no uncertain terms. Keep writing and thank you. Nadine Bates.

linda said...

I hope you feel encouraged by the fact that your detractor seems barely literate. That should take the sting out of her mean-spirited tirade.

When I was working as a newspaper columnist, I would routinely get incredibly hateful letters and phone calls. (And I didn't write about polarizing things at all! I wrote musing reflections on lifestyle/culture things. Very non-controversial.) I found it easy to dismiss the illiterate, non-sensical bits of venom. The ones that shook me to the core were the well-written or well-spoken, articulate rants. I found it very chilling that such threatening bits of evil could come from an apparently intelligent or articulate person who felt the need to pick up a pen or the phone to respond so hatefully to some light-hearted, or personal slice-of-life piece that I had written.

As for housekeeping, I must wear "around the house" clothes and nothing glamorous, but I have to be *dressed.* Cannot feel like getting stuck into any task if I'm still in pyjamas.

clare said...

I have always done like your mum but i think I will try your way this week! I'll let you know how it goes.

Jenifir said...

I think I might be on the fence for housekeeping wardrobe. I like to clean up the kitchen after breakfast and put in a load of laundry while still in my nightgown and will sometimes do so more involved chores when I know I might get especially sweaty before getting cleaned up and dressed for the day. I am lucky that my children are old enough not to need me to walk them to school so I have a little time in my cozy nightgown. I love beautiful clothes and tend to wear them often and feel that is why I have a lovely collection of aprons. A little mascara and lipstick is nice if you catch a glimpse of yourself in the shiny surfaces that you have just cleaned.

The Hausfrau said...

I always try to get completely "ready for the day" before I do any cleaning or anything else around the house, unless I have an especially nasty job to tackle. And speaking of nasty--I'm so sorry about that sad, sad person who felt the need to attack you for no reason at all.

miss*R said...

ignore the idiot who emailed you. I have had my fair share of looneys over the years on blogging and it hurts.. but they are really sad souls who must be pitied.
I love what you do, even though I don't comment all the time xo

Anonymous said...

I'm a little of column A and a little of column B. Whether I'm more one or the other is entirely based on my mood at the time. That and how dirty the task in hand.

I also know from experience (and that of my hubby who is currently struggling with self employment)that going freelance and foregoing the security of a regular pay cheque is one of the hardest endeavours anyone can undertake. That and parenting.

Ignore the idiots. The illiterate variety seem to be especialy plentiful these days. The educational system that produces them must be so bottom of the barrel, the bottom has fallen out. Not worth you upsetting yourself over.

Susie said...

I can't clean in a nice get-up. I'm strictly a sweat pants and grunge T-shirt cleaner. I do my heavy cleaning first thing in the morning, then shower and get dressed for the day.

Alison, I LOVE your blog and I love your courage and pluck and heart and I've been a fan for years. Brocante Home is a delight.


Sasha said...

I used to do as your Mum does, and had a tracksuit solely for 'cleaning the bathroom (etc) purposes' that I didn't care about being on hands and knees mopping floors in or getting bleach on, but when you have a touch of the old OCD when it comes to cleaning, you start realising that before you know it it's dinner time and you look like one of the Dingles - almost all of the time!! Well, that's just embarassing.... and I'm prone to unexpected visitors!

Then I got a job where I had to get myself and my small daughter up and out of the house by 8am, so I started each day up with the lark, showered, dressed nicely and make-up on, and realised, like you, that somehow I seemed to be more EFFICIENT at doing everything when I felt mentally and aesthetically ready and raring to go and face whatever the day threw at me. Now I just like to be up and dressed and 'done' (not always full make-up though, if I'm not actually going out) so I am not adding 'must really get dressed now' to my list of jobs - it kind of hangs over me then like a grey cloud, and I feel slovenly I'm afraid, and detracts from feeling good about what I've acheived. And that's just negative!

As is the saddo who dissed your work (what's she doing reading your stuff then????). She can just pot off can't she?!!

lizzie said...

I am afraid I dont dress up much to do housework or for anything else for that matter. I do love your blog though and dont worry about all the creeps on the blogasphere. What they dont understand is that all this is desperately important to us and why should we apologize and slink off when they critisize us. I am certainly not going to. A home is an absolute blessing as one little chinese lady told me in the market the other day as she is absolutely right.
Your blog always inspires me an lifts my spirits.

fairycakegirl said...

First of all Alison, ignore the idiot, she/he/it should get a life never mind a job!
I am definitely with your mum, I need to get my house done then I get ready sometimes as late as 3pm. If i had to 'gut' the house after i had been washed and dressed i would need to get washed and dressed again. My mum is the same as me (and your mum). What about your sister?

Carlie said...

Don't mind the stoned baboons, dear. We love you and of course you're here because we all want you and yea, need you. Your little blog is inspiring, helpful and gobs of laziness involved at all. Don't sweat it.

Secondly, am I glamorous housewife? Hmm....I do get dressed, put on my make-up and do my hair before I do anything else in the day BUT...I am not sure I'd count as glamorous. My "make-up" is usually just blush, a touch of cover-up and a little mascara...chapstick in the cold months. I usually wear my hair up in a bun (nothing very fussy or cool, no rollers or blowdrying involved for instance) and although I try to wear jewelry its often just my pearl earrings or a simple cross on a chain, nothing fancy. I don't wear heels and I am forever forgetting to wear my aprons, wipe my hands on my clothes in a hideous way as I go and never can stand to wear gloves for washing up unless its an all day scrub-a-thon. I do however, aspire to be more glamorous and perhaps someday I'll get there. Where does that leave me? sure.

vmichelle said...

I think I'm somewhere in between... I must be dressed. But makeup and heels are not required to begin cleaning. But I have to feel personally pulled together before I can start pulling the house together.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alison. I will have to admit to "it depends on the day". We homeschool our girls so no need to dash out so early, other than to grab the paper. I have invested in a couple of pair of jamma pants that make do for work around the house. In the hamper they go after and I get my shower. I am a sweat filled person, so I work first 95% of the time. Then out of house stuff and sweet smelling when hunny comes home. I also wanted to say "grab some courage of your own" to the snarky lot. It is hard work for married women as well to have a well rounded life. Courage makes it possible to have a shred of sanity. Good on you Ali!!!!

Katherine said...

I'm a little bit of both, too--I just can't stand to sweat after showering and makeup, lol! :)

. said...

Not glamorous but never grungy. I'm washed, dressed,combed, moisturized and lipsticked.
It gives me a sence of well being.
Ah! And always with an apron.
Then I feel I'm ready for my mission.
About the stupid woman who sent you thet email, she is just jealous of you.

feistyrallygirl said...

Oh, dear. I'm afraid that I am quite a mix of the two. I clean the shower naked so I won't ruin any clothes with the scrubbing powder. I, then, take a shower in the newly clean bath to celebrate.
On the other hand, most days, I absolutely must have my morning routine of getting up, feed baby, coffee, let dog out & feed him, dress baby, shower, dress me. Then, and only then, am I ready to face the world of work inside and out!

Rebecca said...

I have to make myself feel human before I can tackle anything else. Nothing to posh (mainly 'cos none of my posh frocks fit me after childbirth!) but enough for me to feel relatively smart and stylish. I do try and get up half an hour before my wee one to head the day off at the pass. If the day starts off a bit off kilter then I do have trouble getting back on track - which is something I must tackle!
And as for that... person (for want of an offensive but unpostable word) who tried to drag you down to their level; I am glad that all the posts told you to ignore them and voiced their support for you. What you do is inspiring and if it was that easy everybody would be doing it!

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