It depends on what you mean by 'clean'

Sep 28, 2007 at 9:29 p.m. ET

My husband came home from work the other night and the very first thing he said when he walked in the door was, "What's that smell?"

"Clean," I told him. I'd just wrestled with the sofas for five hours, vacuuming and foo-fooing them. The floors were swept and washed. Even the cats and children looked saintly and smelled soapy fresh.

He took another deep breath, this time without any hesitation. Slowly a smile spread across his face and I could just read his thoughts: "I could get used to this."

Drat! My plan was backfiring. I thought that if I spent more time chasing annoying little dust bunnies rather than surfing the Internet, I'd get my creaking, protesting, gluttonous body back in shape. It was a covert plan. To the world I'd appear to be an industrious if I took a day or two off, who'd ever guess I was cheating on my diet and exercise regime?

Now my husband will be hoping for a clean house everyday. And I won't want to disappoint him, so a few days will turn into a few weeks, and then I'll really be stuck because then he'll expect it everyday. I'll never get out of chores again.

I was desperate. I needed a plan. I'd get pregnant. There's only one way a woman can eat all she wants and no matter how big she gets people will tell her she is absolutely radiant and glowing. She never has to lift a finger. People swoop in to do the chores for her. She always gets a seat on the bus. For a few short months, life is rosey.

And then she trades in a few hours of brutal labor for a three-day stay at the hospital, complete with bed rest and meals served to her around the clock.

Oh, how I pine for those precious moments.

No, not the wiggly little thing with the diapers and odor. I'm too old for that. I'm getting ready to be a grandmother by the end of this decade but there's no foreseeable break in this endless housecleaning. Do they let you eat all you want through menopause? Do they think you radiate joy at that time and rush to help with chores? No, siree. I watched my mother suffer.

While we were bundled in winter coats because she was sweating in forty-degree temperatures, she tore through our home cleaning and fuming. It's pregnancy without the happy hormones.

I goofed. I really goofed. I should have never resurrected that vacuum cleaner in the first place. There's no getting around it. I'm just going to have to wreck the house tomorrow and make my husband think it was an odd, but pleasant dream and do it fast before he realizes what happened.

Me clean? Surely, you jest!