It’s Not about the Bathtub…

I know you are all probably looking for a dating update… but to be honest quarantine / life has me feeling some sort of way about everything and dating is included. I’m not sure when I’ll date again or IF I’ll date again… it’s hard, life can be hard, and honestly I’m just done with the thought of dating. I’ll probably even change the name of this blog… we’ll see.

My laundry list of things to get done is getting bigger and trying to improve my entire being to meet someone that matches that just isn’t on the list. I know that’s not the best outlook on things and I’m sorry for anyone looking for a pick me up or encouragement on trying to date. It’s just not here…. not right now.

So if you’re still reading this, I’m going to tell you about my how my recent experience cleaning my bathtub has led to a big ah ha in my life.

I hate cleaning. I know most people don’t particularly like cleaning.

It’s not like playing a video game, karaoke or something super fun…

But I HATE it.

When I was growing up I have two distinct memories of cleaning…

One was listening to Z-93 (a Dayton area Top 40 station) blasting through the radio speakers. Salt & Peppa doing their thing in a dark room. Only a glimmer of light from an adjacent room on so we could see the various dust-grazed surfaces. This was the fun side of cleaning and the goal of my well intentioned dad to make something monotonous into a family memory! Sometimes this included a single flashlight that he wiggled around aggressively to make it look like a club strobe light. I love to think I learned my killer dance moves and fondness for the shopping cart under the shaking of that off brand Duracell powered light. “Go Jill Jill! Go Jill Jill” my dad would sing as he flickered the light to the beat.

The second memory is how these nights could end up with tears and cold rags held to faces to avoid marks. I could never learn how to clean the “right” way. The way that would be the most efficient and get the cleanliness demanded by my dad. I often folded the washrag in my hands and washed little bits at a time. I didn’t lay lay it out flat, with my hand flat in the middle, the best way to get the most surface area. I will never blame my dad for having this level of perfection. He was a single dad, in the early 80s, with child protection services visits in the first years of us living with him. He needed it to be exquisite to keep us. I knew that even from a young age. He needed to prove he could do it. Seeing him hand wash our kitchen floors each night made it perfectly clear.

Although my dad cleaned A LOT and our house was well organized (often with cardboard boxes for storage from his job at the warehouse) , the other tenants of our apartment didn’t have the same dedication. We lived in this housing situation until I was in 4th grade. This house had been divided up into three separate apartments. If you have lived in a similar situation you know that any one tenant could ruin it for everyone else. One of the downstairs neighbors had roaches, however, we called them “water bugs”.

What’s funny is that I always really thought there was a difference. It wasn’t until recently, when my dad told me of a story about him grabbing a roach in his hand that was on my shirt before I woke up for school, that I put two and two together. He had used the word roach… I thought Ahhhh they weren’t water bugs….

I’m really glad I didn’t know that growing up. It was definitely a gift.

I remember going in to take a bath at this house and seeing multiple water bugs in the tub.

I called to my dad “Daaadddd, the bugs are in the tub!”

He would run in wrap the bugs in toilet paper, throw them in the pot and flush them away. I would fill up the water and proceed with my bath. Washing and conditioning my hair and cleaning up. I even remember putting the conditioner in a cup of water and swirling it around with my finger. Then pouring the mixture on my head. It made it easier to spread out from root to ends. I’m not sure it always did the trick but it worked for me and my 2nd grade hair care needs.

So back to this week, I have had re-caulking my bathtub on my house to do list for awhile. My bathtub wasn’t disgusting, but a recent clogged drain incident involving a decapitated razor, had made it in need of a good scrub as well. As I looked over at my tub, I became fixated. I needed that tub to be fixed and now. I started with simply removing the old caulk. I took my razor blade and large flat head screwdriver and started the scrapping.

While I was scraping, I could feel my anxiety rising and my to do list getting longer. My heart was pumping louder and my breathing shallower. This is typical for anytime I clean and something I once told a therapist about during my divorce.

“On my kid free nights, I like to get drunk to clean so I can get through it and surprise myself in the morning.”

She didn’t hate it.

She said “divorce is hard enough – do what you have to do to survive”

Luckily I’m not now always using this trick (although it doesn’t hurt). Now when I get up the go go to clean; I just breath, try to focus on one thing at a time, and only do it when I’m alone.

However that night, what started as recaulking the tub, lead to Google searching “how to remove the bathtub faucet”, paint color imagining, and taking apart the jets in on the sides. This is normal, I know this. You see one thing and then want more. However, I’m not doing it in a “let’s improve this space” way, it’s a “if I don’t get this done in the perfect way then it’s not good enough”. This is why I hate cleaning, I never feel like it’s good enough.

I’m removing and soaking the faucet parts in vinegar, scrubbing out the tub with the attachment I bought off amazon for my drill (highly recommend), and recaulking my tub. I’m going to do this the “proper” way, the full washrag with my hand in the middle, kind of way.

In the midst of my anxiety and fury, my daughter comes home from work and compliments my efforts. Again I like to clean alone. She offers to help, as one is she kind, but two she can tell I’m panicked. I seriously hate that she has to know that I’m like this and reads it like a book. I’m biting off way more than I can chew, late at night, with work in the morning. Plus at some point I need to accomplish an actual shower as well.

I look at her and keep repeating, as I am furiously gathering the various supplies/being short with her, “I just want it to be clean enough for you to take a bath”

At first she goes along with what I’m saying, then at one point she stops me and says, “Mama you’re not doing this for me…. I don’t even take baths or want to. This is all about you.”

It wasn’t until I was driving home tonight, that I realized fully how right she was. I was gathering up the metaphorical bugs in my bathtub trying to feel good enough. It isn’t about the tub. It never was. It also isn’t about all the men that have come in my life (even those that were actually roaches ), it’s been about me.

Until I can feel like I’m good enough I’m going to continue to not be attracted to the ones that care and cling to the ones that aren’t ready or don’t. This has been my pattern these past 5 years. That’s my work during this pandemic and the months following. To figure out how I can get myself to a place where I’m actually going after what I say I want, determining what I actually want, and deciding how / if dating even fits into it. I’m not sure where things will land and am not sure that they ever will, but this will need to be my new focus…. well at least until I get my bathtub finished 😉


  1. Jill – I am really happy for you and this epiphany. I too have been working through those feelings from childhood of never being good enough. I have begun writing for my blog a series I am thinking of calling Dominoes. I haven’t finished the first one yet because it is very raw and emotional to work through.My goal is to heal through my writing and maybe inspire someone at the same time. I know you are more than good enough. Your baby girl knows you are more than good enough. All of your friends know you are more than good enough. Maybe we should start a podcast based on our healing process….lol. You are worthy of love and that includes loving yourself. Hang in there my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The pandemic is temporary. Cleaning is eternal.
    So many people are looking for some amount of control right now. You cleaning your bathtub is a perfect example that. Accomplishing just one task is something to be proud of.
    Once the world cools down, your dating life will pick up again. Based on what I’ve read here, you aren’t one to give up so easily. I’m looking forward to your next post!

    Liked by 1 person

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