There are some eccentric/unconventional people that really fascinate me – the kind of people who don’t feel the need to ‘fit in’ with society, who have their own tastes, opinions and ideas, who can just be themselves without fear, who step out into our occasionally bland, beige world that’s becoming increasingly too homogenised for my liking, and make it a bit more colourful and interesting and I think that Quentin Crisp was one of those people.
Mr Crisp died in 1999, aged 90, not too far away from Broccoli HQ, on the eve of his one man show and his ashes were returned to New York, his adopted home.
He was The Englishman in New York – you know, the one Sting wrote a song about….Ahhh, Sting…Mmmmmm…*stares dreamily into space*
Ahem, sorry, I almost lost my thread then.
Mr Crisp would be on my guest list for dinner anytime (so would Sting!!!)
Well, that’s if I had the time, inclination or energy to actually throw a dinner party!
For those of you who’ve never heard of Quentin Crisp, he was an author and raconteur, life model, rent boy and a whole host of other stuff. He came from a generation where his effeminacy and homosexuality wasn’t accepted and, sadly, like many people before and after him, he was persecuted for it.
But he was who he was and the haters didn’t get the last laugh… they rarely do…yeah!
I didn’t necessarily agree with all of his opinions though – he could, on occasion, incite controversy – however, one of my most favourite quotes of his was:
“There’s no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse”
What a theory that is, eh?
All the cleaning product manufacturers of the world would be quaking in their boots and defensively clutching their wallets close to their chest at the prospect of that philosophy ever taking off.
Anyway, you’re possibly wondering where all this is leading. If you’ve read my stuff before, you probably know me so well that you’ve fathomed that I can often go off on a tangent!
Humble apologies. I just can’t help myself.
Well, not so long ago, I was having a lovely chat with one of my special needs mama friends and something that she said bothered me.
And what bothered me was the fact that she was sad…about something she didn’t really need to bother about – her dust bunnies and what other people would think about her and them.
She told me that before she became a special needs mama, she had the luxury (i.e. time PLUS energy!) to look after her house just the way she wanted. Now, like most of us in the special needs world, her priorities have had to shift. BIG TIME!.
So I wanted to write something about it. Hence my reference to Quentin Crisp.
See? There is a (sort of) segue to this, after all.
I’ve got to the point in my life – either through age or experience or whatever – that I truly, honestly, couldn’t ‘give a monkeys’ (for my friends across the world – hello! – that means ‘couldn’t care less’) about people’s opinions of me or my lifestyle.
I worry not one bit.
I don’t waste even a second of my day thinking about it.
I am who I am. Take me or leave me. Love me or loathe me.
Nor do I worry about my home.
Sure, I’d love all the work on the house and garden to be completed. That’s a no-brainer. Yes, I’d love it if our home was constantly tidy. Of course, I would be positively giddy at the prospect of it being spotlessly clean 24/7.
But would my life be more enriched if all of this happened?
Erm…let me think about that one…
OK, I’ve thought about it and the answer is…
It’s not a show house just so that people can come in and “ooh and aah” at what we might have bought or how it looks.
It’s a home. Where we actually live. Where we cook, eat, sleep, play, dance in the kitchen. It’s where Hannah and daddy play ‘football’ (well, sort of ‘ish’) whilst I hold my breath and hope that nothing gets smashed in the process *sigh*, it’s where we mess about and have fun, it’s where we make memories.
It oozes LIFE…especially from a little person we never imagined we’d be lucky enough to bring into this world.
Those handprints that you’ll see on my patio doors or dining table are signs that Hannah was there…more than likely right after I’d cleaned them *sigh*. I never, ever imagined or assumed that Hannah would one day be mobile, so whether you think this a bit bizarre or not, I LOVE to see those little smears and handprints…even if I’ve just spent ages cleaning the glass.
Those toys often strewn across my living room are signs that my kid likes playing (and has the capacity to play) with things…and throw them across the room (often just missing my head!).
That equipment cluttering up rooms is to help Hannah do things.
Those dishes and pans stacked on my draining board are evidence that we at Broccoli HQ cook our own food because nutrition and health matters MASSIVELY for Hannah – you will never, ever find take away boxes in our bin…although, right now, whilst typing this, I could just murder (i.e. enjoy eating – not, actually murdering!) some egg fried rice…I haven’t eaten that from a take-away in YEARS! n.b. If you eat take-aways, please don’t bother jumping on the keyboard and telling me off, this is about our life, it’s entirely up to you what you eat.
Those clothes piled in the washing basket are evidence that my kid wears clean clothes and P.J.’s every single day…although I absolutely cannot guarantee that they’ll be clean after her having them on for, erm…say…10 minutes, TOPS.
Why, oh why, can’t my kid ever look clean and tidy? It just baffles me.
The pile of ironing as a result of said washing, is evidence that I am just too busy doing something else or too jaded to bother doing it right now…as will be the stuff that’s lying around on the dining table or somewhere else that needs putting away.
Oh, I could go on and on and on about this.
But I won’t.
When Hannah was born (and we were able to escape from hospital!) we had professionals visiting us every single day…LOTS of them. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for their support (at times)…even if my house didn’t feel like my own…nor did I feel able to just enjoy being with my baby like other parents could/can. But I’ve talked about that previously, so I won’t go on about it again. It was what it was and it’s done now.
However, in my hormonal, utterly stupid state at the time, I actually, nonsensically, bothered to frantically clean/tidy the house EVERY SINGLE DAY, before they came. Not only did I do that, I was making purees every day for Hannah, washing her bedding and towels and everything else I could find (the washing machine nearly had a nervous breakdown!) on top of Hannah’s daddy and I providing 24 hour care to this little bundle who needed feeding by NG tube and all the other stuff that needed to be done.
I was so obsessed with wanting to appear to be coping (which I did beautifully, proving the doubters wrong, thank you very much!) with everything that was going on AND play the hostess at the same time.
Would you like a drink and a piece of cake Mrs Nurse?, Mrs Health Visitor? Miss O.T?, Ms Physio? Mrs Portage person? Etc etc etc
WHAT. THE. HELL. WAS. I. THINKING????????????????
Well, I’ll tell you what I was thinking….
I was brought up in a household where other people’s opinions about you mattered.
Well, let me tell you this for nothing…it doesn’t.
NOT. IN. THE. SLIGHTEST.
People will make their own minds up about you, your home, your lifestyle, what you wear, your personality etc no matter what you do. That’s what people do. They may not get it right because they just judge on what they think they see or hear. It’s often a snapshot judgement, based on their own ‘values’ and probably without much or any substance. But they judge, nonetheless.
In retrospect, I was trying to live up to what had been drummed into me from an early age; must keep up appearances no matter what!.
What utter, utter rubbish that was.
So then, as a result of running around like a headless chicken, I went and completely burned myself out and caught every virus that was going.
That was clever of me, wasn’t it?
My immune system had had enough. It was tired of me and my stupidity.
And rightly so.
So I want to send a message out to all my special needs mamas and daddies about this because I don’t want anyone to end up like I did.
Let’s get one thing straight here guys, you have MORE than enough to worry about. I know from experience that you’ll have far more important stuff going on in your lives – stuff that the average person wouldn’t have a clue about unless they walked in our shoes. So please don’t worry about your dust bunnies.
Plus, life is far too short to worry about anyone else’s opinion.
Their opinions mean nothing, nada, niente…unless you really value their opinions, of course.
If someone genuinely cares about you and your wellbeing, whether that’s family, friends or professionals, they’ll offer to help in some way, possibly without you even having to ask. But there will be others who will pass comment/judgement…undoubtedly out of your earshot…but you’ll notice their surreptitious sweeping glances around your house when they come to visit.
If it gives them pleasure or a sense of grandiosity or kudos to talk about or judge the state of your house, then so be it…let them waste their breath…but pity them for their shallowness, ignorance and/or complete lack of understanding.
I’d much rather my child feel happy and loved and feel our presence…rather than palming her off onto someone else so I can get the cleaning done, wouldn’t you?
It’ll get done when it’s done.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting for a minute that you leave your cleaning and wait for four years, like Mr Crisp might have suggested.
Three years, maybe.
No, seriously, we all know that things like damp and dust can be harmful especially if you have a child with respiratory problems, so it’s probably a very good idea to sort that out and keep on top of it. We’re not THAT stupid!
It may also be a good idea to get the hoover out to shift that huge hair/dust ball that resembles one of those tumbleweed things in an old cowboy film…before your child starts thinking it’s one of those big exercise balls and you see them rolling around happily on top of it whilst you’re doing the washing up.
What I’m really trying to get at is, as long as it’s not a health and safety hazard, as long as your child isn’t going to catch something nasty, as long as your child is clean and safe and happy and is provided with everything that they need…what does the rest matter? It can wait until tomorrow.
Mamas and Daddies of the special needs world, you are precious and irreplaceable and I want you to look after yourself (easier said than done sometimes, yeah, I know!). Because if you don’t do that then you’ll be no use to anyone else. I’m guessing that you’re doing the very best that you can right now. Not only may you be juggling work and home life – just like any other average parent – but you’ll be juggling a WHOLE lot more too. You’ll be attending appointments and meetings, writing stuff for schools and professionals, lifting and handling your child, attending to care needs and feeding, sterilising stuff, blah, blah, blah, the whole kit and caboodle. I get it. I’m with you. But there’s the emotional stuff to contend with that also takes its toll…and that can manifest itself by draining you physically too.
The dust bunnies will be there tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that. It’s a perpetual cycle. So maybe, one day, perhaps as regularly as you can, why not think about having some time off. If your child is safe in the care of someone else, go have a power nap and recharge your batteries, or watch Bridget Jones’s Diary on DVD (LOVE that film!) and eat chocolate or whatever takes your fancy. Just forget the housework for a little while at least.
And to those who’ve passed judgement on other people for the state of their houses, hear this….
Shame on you!
To my knowledge, no-one has EVER died and been remembered for the condition of their house….”Oh yes, I remember (choose whatever name), they always had a lovely clean and tidy house…anyone would think it was a show house”. Nope. Your children will never put that on your gravestone. They may just sell your house quicker than you can say ‘Last Will and Testament’ for a quick buck, dust or no dust, and blow your hard earned cash on a sports car or fritter it away. You will never be remembered for your clean and tidy show house. If you’re lucky you may be remembered for the type of person you were. One day, you may be in a position where you aren’t able to clean your home to your exacting standards. Karma has a funny way of working sometimes. Think on!.
Right, that’s all for now my lovelies.
Thanks, as always, for dropping by.
Until next time.
This post is dedicated to Mr Crisp. Wherever he is, I hope he’s having an utterly wonderful, totally flamboyant time and being allowed to be just the way he is.
…and to my gorgeous special needs mama friend. We love you JUST the way you are, dust bunnies or no dust bunnies. YOU are an amazing person and mama and are making some lovely memories – and that’s far more important than cleaning!.
Graphic courtesy of photofunia.com