Lake Norman & Mooresville

‘Help’ from kids, husband drive mom batty

They say that nothing brings out your inner control freak better than letting a child “help” you.

My 3-year-old loves to help, especially in the kitchen. He can pour drinks, fetch things from the pantry, stir up batter, unload the dishwasher. I even let him cut soft things, like bananas, with a butter knife.

He’s amazing. But sometimes, when he decides to wipe his nose on the back of his hand on the way to the refrigerator, I feel my inner control freak coming to the surface.

It’s not just help from the kids that makes me a little batty.

Let me preface this next topic by saying that my husband really, really tries to be helpful.

He is not one of those guys who comes home, props up his feet and orders a beer from the wifey. That’s mostly because, if he tried to pull such a stunt, the wifey would find a new spot for her feather duster.

Hubby’s help, however, can be a bit frustrating.

If he cooks dinner on the nights that I’m working, he shouts a dozen questions in my direction as I’m trying to concentrate on email: “What temperature?” “How long should I cook this?” “Where’s the cheese?” “What’s this stuff?”

And his idea of doing the dishes means loading the dishwasher and then leaving the pots and pans for me to hand-wash later. Thanks, honey.

I’m not the only one. My friend Renee is terrified to do any chore that has historically been her husband’s responsibility. She’s scared that once that territory has been breached, she’ll be on it forever.

Unfortunately, that means waiting weeks – sometimes years – for household repairs, lawn care and the like.

I can sympathize, I told her. Sometimes our yard resembles a prairie. And once, I waited eight years for a simple repair to our septic system. When Phil finally got around to it this summer, the job was done in 10 minutes.

Another friend described her hectic morning routine, trying to get the kids out the door. Her husband, like mine, tries to help.

But instead of packing lunches or brushing tangles, he’s folding laundry. “Prioritize!” her frazzled inner monologue screams. “Fix a sandwich!”

Perhaps my friends and I need to get out of the house. If only we had maids.

I once won a free two-hour housecleaning session. Two women from Molly Maid services showed up at my door when the baby was less than a month old, and it was a godsend. I was severely sleep-deprived and hopelessly behind on housework.

Still, I was impressed by how much those ladies were able to accomplish in one afternoon. They basically cleaned the entire house, plus they tackled things I don’t usually notice: the lint on top of the dryer, the dust on top of the ceiling fan.

They even cleaned the regular things better than I do. The sinks were shinier; the carpet was fresher.

What the Molly Maids did put my housekeeping skills to shame. Even more shameful, I was glad to have the recent pregnancy as an excuse for my home’s layers of dust and for my slight weepiness when it was time for them to leave.

The Molly Maids probably wondered whether I owned a feather duster at all, much less where I kept it. I wondered whether cleaning other people’s houses brought out their inner control freaks.

But I guess if my 3-year-old can overcome the handicaps of shortness, underdeveloped motor and communication skills and inexperience, surely I can overcome my handicaps of impatience, underdeveloped communication skills and general fatigue.

At least we have plenty of helpers around here. And maybe a prairie dog or two.