May 23, 2012

The Two Areas of Household Upkeep That Drive Me the Most Nuts

I have put my finger on the two areas of household upkeep that drive me the most nuts. This was quite a task, as there are so many to choose from, and of course there is the area of "Things I do that no one really notices, and then they carelessly mess it up again within seconds, making my life feel like a pointless wearying dismal struggle towards death," which is its own thing and too large to call "an area."

The first area is "Anything where I am the only one who does it, ever." The toilet springs to mind. Has anyone but me cleaned a toilet in this household in the last seventeen years? No.

It doesn't matter if it's FAIR or not. For example, Paul could very well feel the same way about me and lawn-mowing. Well, except that I HAVE mowed the lawn periodically. Let me think if I can think of some other example of something he ALWAYS does and I NEVER do. Well, I'm sure there are things, and what I mean is that it wouldn't even matter if he were doing a larger share of housework, or doing plenty of things I never do, I'm STILL crabby about tasks that are ALWAYS mine, as if unbreakably declared so by a deity thousands of years ago.

Nor does it matter if I could have asked someone else to do it, or could have trained the children to do it. If anything, those points make it worse: now it's not only my job to do it, it's my fault if I haven't explicitly told anyone that I don't want exclusive rights to cleaning the toilet. Must I do that for each individual task in life? "Hear ye, hear ye, I have NOT claimed all printer-refilling duties for this office!" "Attention, colleagues! I did not dibs the rights to inspect every empty coffee pot! Please feel free to sometimes make more coffee yourself!" What a waste of time. No, this is why we are already equipped with empathy and brains.

I'm NOT talking about areas where we've agreed that I should be the only one to handle something, such as the checkbook (DO NOT TOUCH IT, HISSSSSSSSS!!!). Or where we can agree it doesn't really NEED to be done but I would like it done anyway, and/or where the task affects only me. For example, if I'm the only one sorting books by how old I was when I first read them, or if I'm the only one who puts the socks in the drawer in color groups, or if I'm the only one who drinks the coffee, I think we can agree it's not right for me to demand everyone else follow/maintain my system. I can demand that they not SCREW UP my system, but I can't reasonably demand that they follow it, or that they agree with me that the pipes under the sink really need to be polished weekly and that we all need to work on that as a family. Which is why I used the toilet as the example: I think we can all agree that that is a non-optional task, and also that all household members are contributing to the necessity of the task-doing, as well as benefiting from the results. It doesn't matter if I'm the only one who cares if the toilet is clean: it still needs to be cleaned, and it's still everyone's responsibility.


The second area is "Anything that is left aside, apparently for me to handle, but without comment." An especially soiled item of clothing, left wordlessly on top of the washing machine. A bowl/pan that will need scrubbing, left wordlessly in the sink before someone leaves for work all day (i.e., so there is no room here for "Oh, it just needed to soak, and I was going to scrub it myself"). A throw rug that had a Dead Rodent Gift on it, left outside on the steps---presumably to be hosed off or disinfected or something? I don't know, but it's been sitting out there in the rain and sun for several days, because the fact of it being there has awakened a stubborn streak known as "Oh, did you expect ME to handle that? How ODD."

This is true EVEN WHEN a comment would have done nothing but result in an exasperated reply from me to just LEAVE it for me, I'M the expert in that, just let ME do it. YES, the end result is the same in regards to who will do the work. NO, the end results are not the same in regards to whose torment is being imagined.

And it is ESPECIALLY true if something is partially done, in a way that indicates that the person starting the task has a specific plan for dealing with the task but would like ME to carry out those plans. For example, if I had been the one to find the Dead Rodent Gift on a rug, I would have dealt with that problem in-house, using cleaning supplies well-suited to the task. If someone feels the task needs to be dealt with outdoors, then he or she may certainly do it that way. But it is a different story if someone drags the rug outside and then thinks they've done their share and it's up to me to complete it. Oh, I can keep stepping right over that rug, bub.

It's also especially true in cases where someone's wordlessness on the subject has left me at a distinct disadvantage. If someone had TOLD me about the very soiled item of clothing, I would have done an immediate vigorous pre-rinse, followed by a soak in a stain treatment. But now it's been 24 hours, and I am facing despair and failure because of someone else's PRESUMPTIOUS WORDLESSNESS.

70 comments:

Christy said...

Yesssssssss.

The thing that drives me the most crazy about these tasks is like you said, the whole attitude like, "If you wanted me to do the dishes, why didn't you just ask instead of exploding at me when there's a week of unwashed dishes laying around?" LIKE I AM THE ONLY ONE SEEING A DISH PILE WHOSE HEIGHT IS MEASURED IN FEET so it's MY job to ask someone to handle it.

Phew - I feel better already.

heidi davis said...

I once tried to see how long it would take for a piece of paper to be picked up from the floor. This paper was in a often used walkway in our home. After two weeks I gave up and picked it up myself. THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT DRIVE ME INSANE. (there are FIVE other people capable of picking up paper in my home)

Kris said...

I swear, they are all blind.

I always lose that "let's see how long it takes for someone else to notice and do something" bet.

I mean . . . can neither of the MEN WHO STAND THERE LOOKING INTO THE TOILET BOWL several times a day see that it's time to clean it?

Do they not SEE that the lid on the bathroom trash can won't close all the way?

I just can't outlast them. I shudder to think what would happen to the lot of them if I wasn't around.

Tina G said...

I have similar issues here. Who else but me has ever scooped the kitty litter for 3 cats in 12 years (except when pregnant)? And while I go about my daily life cleaning the chaos and cat hair dust bunnies and piles of junk on the dining room table (pointless wearying dismal struggle towards death)Someone who shall be nameless decides that the sink is really gross and MUST be cleaned and soak in bleach. Oh and then he will clean the stove top to like new condition whist ignoring all the flotsam and jetsam that are his doing.

MomQueenBee said...

Oh, the soaking of pans to be washed "later." How many hours/meals/days later are we talking? Because I have not been able to count that high, and it is INFURIATING. Those pans are nonstick and therefore immediately washable, my-dear-who-is-so-smart-in-so-many-other-ways.

Tess said...

So, I know there are varying degrees of tolerance for the show "Everybody Loves Raymond", but there was a highly entertaining episode in this vein called "The Suitcase" (man leaves suitcase on the staircase landing after a trip and a stalemate ensues). Anyway, I think of it often.

I would also add to the list anything I have asked a household member to do once, which they NEVER EVEN CONSIDER doing again without prompting (there is something horribly wrong with that sentence but I can't quite pinpoint it. Still, the grievance stands).

Slim said...

There is a box in the corner of our dining room. It contains pajamas belonging to one of my children, and was shipped from a hotel where my husband and the pajamas usual inhabitant stayed.
Husband forgot the pajamas when packing to return home, called the hotel, had them shipped, and since then? Nothing. It has been weeks. Eventually the child will have outgrown the pajamas, at which point I will be biting my tongue about paying to have them shipped and then not bothering to unpack them.
Weeks. Did I mention it's been weeks?

Karen L said...

"Oh, did you expect ME to handle that? How ODD." Truth.

Tess wrote: I would also add to the list anything I have asked a household member to do once, which they NEVER EVEN CONSIDER doing again without prompting. O, yes.

I have often noted that in my circles, it seems that in the opposite-sex couples, the men may do more than our fathers did, some even arguably do a "fair share" (whatever that means) but still do not show a lot of initiative in domestic work. Which belies a certain belief about responsibility for domestic work, no?

StephLove said...

My son's suitcase is on the floor of his room, filled with clothes from a spring break trip we took in early April.

Kris said...

I keep spare boxes of tissues the bathroom drawer, and one is usually open for nose-blowing.

Went in there one morning and it seemed that my ("adult") (ha) son had emptied the box. And left the empty in the drawer. And left the drawer open so I'd see it.

Seriously?

So I left him a note - on the empty box in the drawer that said "when you finish the box of tissues please get rid of the empty box and close the drawer. WHY do I even need to say this???"

Never heard anything about it after that, but he did get rid of the empty box, so there's that.

LizScott said...

YES. Your second area is what gets me about dishes in the sink. I've gone on long, horrible, passive agressive tirades about dishes left in the sink ("Oh, did you expect me to get that for you? I have to assume so since you just left it there when you yourself could have easily put it in the dishwasher which is a whole two feet away, but you did not, so I assume that you are just assuming that I will take care of it, and does that seem fair to you? Why would I want to do that anymore than you?" -- tirades that have cumulated in therapists saying to me: "It's not that he doesn't respect your time, it's just that he doesn't like washing dishes" which I suppose is valid except that's it's NOT because I don't like doing a lot of shit AS WELL but I don't fricken leave it for HIM to do becaue I DO respect his time SO CLEARLY YOU CAN SEE WHERE HE IS WRONG AND I AM NOT"

Therapy's been really helpful, by the way.

Ahem. Anyway. Yes, I see your point and agree.

g~ said...

Our struggle: We will HAVE to have the house cleaned for an imminent Event (party, guests, etc). I will begin diligently picking up, scrubbing, organizing and tidying visible areas and guest-habitable areas. SOMEONE ELSE will immediately begin scrubbing the (unfinished) basement (used ONLY for storage) floors with a toothbrush. And will then proceed to take out, go through, leave half the shit out of, clean, and repack his TOOL CABINET since we're hosting a BABY SHOWER FOR WOMEN. PRIORITIES, PEOPLE! PRIORITIES.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

This is making the vein in my temple throb.

This kind of thing drives me nuts. NUTS.

M.Amanda said...

GAHHHH. Yes. Yes. Yes.

My areas:

1. The dishwasher, where I am apparently the only one who can start a cleaning cycle. My husband will grudgingly unload and put away the clean and load the dirty. He will even run a rinse cycle too keep it from stinking if we don't use a lot of dishes over a period of a couple days. But put detergent in and hit "Clean?" Nooooo. Even if the thing is full, he will still rinse. Because you can't Clean without Detergent, and he does not do Detergent. It is stored 5 inches away and just gets dropped in and the little flap snapped shut, then hit a button that does not say "Rinse."

2. Folding clothes. If it goes on a hanger, we're good. If it must be folded, it gets dumped in chairs for me to find later. Sometimes this means my work sweaters must be rerinsed as they sat in a crinkled heap too long and are no longer remotely presentable. Sometimes they stay there for a week or more while I sit on the floor in a foolish attempt to prove a point that if I can't just operate the washer and dryer and not fold and put away any of the clothes and claim that I've done all the laundry, then he can't either.

Heather said...

Pet peeve number one: Husband refuses to put new toilet rolls in a cupboard for a toilet that ONLY HE USES. Why is that my job? I clean it (begrudgingly since I dont use it) but I have a little stubborn streak that says "if you want to wipe, you better stock your own cupboard!"

Pet peeve number two: Cooking dinner for three grown men on nights I am not home to eat it=FORGET IT! I hate that as I walk out they say "but what's for dinner?" I dont care if you eat cardboard, I'm off to dance class!

Heather said...

Oh and I leave notes. I am always the last one to bed (and the last to rise) so I will leave a note. The latest one was someone who ate all the bubble and squeak and I left a note on it. "Did you enjoy the bubble and squeak? I hope so, but if you want more you should write it on the grocery list because amazing as I am, I am NOT psychic."

Elizabeth said...

It's posts like this that make me think that you are the smartest person alive. HOLY CATS IS IT ANNOYING WHEN SOMEONE LEAVES SOMETHING FOR ME TO DO AS IF I WILL JUST SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF THE BOTTLES FILLED WITH ROTTEN MILK IN THE SINK.

Also.
I actually considered starting a chart because not only am I the only one who EVER takes out the recycling, but every time I say "I GUESS I WILL TAKE THIS OUT AGAIN SINCE I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO EVER DOES THIS" loudly, I hear about how the other person in the household takes it out all the time. Which is JUST NOT TRUE AND I WOULD LIKE PROOF because now not only am I the one who is taking out the recycling every two minutes, but I'm not even getting credit! at least appreciate the fact that I do it and you never do! BLARGH!

Amanda said...

INFURIATING!

I think all wives have these complaints. I'm desperate to know if these are issues for gay couples. I'm going to have to ask some friends. The only comparable complaint that I hear husbands make is that they aren't getting enough sex. My reply is always "if I have to mop up piss from the side of the toilets, I'm not going to want to do you".

barb. said...

OMGYES.

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
-R- said...

When my husband is cleaning or organizing upstairs, if he finds something that doesn't have a place or that he doesn't know where it goes, he will put it down the laundry chute. I do all the laundry, so he knows I will have to deal with it eventually. Sometimes he even throws trash down the laundry chute. And then I punch him in the face. Not realy. But he would deserve it.

-R- said...

I realize now my comment isn't really related to your post, but too late.

Brenna said...

Mine is the shower. I am practically blind without glasses, which I obviously don't wear in the shower. Therefore, Our shower gets pretty filthy before it's evident to my barely seeing eyes. (why don't I clean it on a regular basis instead of waiting until it's disgusting, you ask? STOP BEING LOGICAL, I say. But really just because it's my most hated household task.) My problem is my husband has perfect vision, so he should notice the filth and address it (by cleaning it, not by telling me about it!) long before its noticeable to me.

And I had a word freakout to this effect during my last bout with PMS. I think I frightened the man. But he still hasn't cleaned the shower once in our whole 12 year marriage.

Brenna said...

OMG what "g-" said above? YESSSSSS. Priorities! Yes!

It absolutely baffles me when we're doing a "company clean" (cleaning before guests arrive, obvs.) and he decides the task he must complete is...cleaning the shed. Or the garage. Or going through his clothes for stuff to give to Goodwill. Or looking for expired food in the pantry. Or GAAAAAHH.

Yes, you're being productive, but not in an immediately useful manner. So stop acting like you "helped".

d e v a n said...

I'm also the only one in my house who ever, EVER cleans the bathrooms. EVER.
I hate it.

d e v a n said...

Brenna - my husband does that too. We're getting food ready for a bbq and suddenly he's DUSTING THE CEILING FAN. wtf?!

Cayt said...

I am particularly irked when I say "The bathroom and the kitchen both require cleaning. I'll take one if you take the other. Which would you prefer?" and get the mumbled response, "Oh, I'm too busy to do that." Never mind that I'm doing it on my day off work and some people spend all their time playing video games.

Lindsey said...

"YES, the end result is the same in regards to who will do the work. NO, the end results are not the same in regards to whose torment is being imagined."

Hahaha. YES. EXACTLY. I may have my own exacting standards regarding how certain (okay, all) chores are done, but I would like it to be acknowledged that I am not the only one capable of washing a dish or sweeping the floor, just because I'm the only one who knows the RIGHT WAY to do it.

liz said...

I'm pretty lucky in the "husband does household chores unasked" department, but HE WORKS (unpaid for the most part at the moment) FROM HOME so I'm not going to let him off the hook about his bathroom, which he's supposed to share with our son, (but I'm not letting our boy shower in that filth), and the un-separated laundry. I don't care if it doesn't get folded. I don't care if it doesn't get put away. Why can't you at least divvy it up?

Because of this, I have been making a point of teaching our son to clean the bathroom.

Maggie said...

This post! These comments! I want to write a tomb agreeing with every. single. thing.

The only thing that keeps me from going totally off the deep end is that we have a cleaning service that comes every other week. If I had to clean the bathrooms in addition to every other thing as well as working FT outside the home, I swear to god, I'd go completely ballistic. My husband likely senses this and, therefore, has never said word one about ditching the cleaning service. Self-preservation for him.

Mrs. Irritation said...

Yes yes YES.

Saly said...

Brenna! Devan! YES! Hub is really good for starting random projects before we are due to have company. Big deal company like Thanksgiving. I'll be cooking and cleaning and being a general crazy person, and he'll be all "Well, i guess I'll put up the wainscoting I've been meaning to do in the bathroom..."

Seriously, what is that?

Also, he will unload the dishwasher and put most of the dishes away. But if it is tupperware, an odd utensil, or one of my big pots that go way back behind the garbage disposal under the sink, it is left on the counter. For me to deal with.

CAQuincy said...

We all so want to marry you (hey...would you do my checkbook for me?).

Hubby came upstairs from getting beer from his beer fridge complaining that SOMEONE had accidentally put the frozen fruit in said fridge instead of freezer--so there was melted ickyness all OVER the fridge.

He then came complaining a few days later that it hadn't been cleaned yet.

Wait--HOW was this MY responsibility to clean???? I don't even USE the beer fridge. I forget it's even there. I know HE didn't make the mess (oh no, we knew which child was the accidental culprit), but WHY DIDN'T HE CLEAN IT WHEN HE DISCOVERED IT?

I finally REMEMBERED one day and had the accidental culprit clean it. No comment yet on completion of task.

BTW: I HAVE taught my children how to clean the toilet, but I'm too OCD to let them do it. IT'S NOT CLEAN ENOUGH!!! GAH!!! Totally MY fault I'm the designated toilet bowl cleaner.

Elizabeth said...

I had a mouthful of hot tea when I read this:

"Things I do that no one really notices, and then they carelessly mess it up again within seconds, making my life feel like a pointless wearying dismal struggle towards death,"

I only JUST managed to stifle my laughter enough to prevent tea being splattered all over my computer screen.

Karen L said...

"No, this is why we are already equipped with empathy and brains."

Thank you.

Suburban Correspondent said...

I guess I have come to terms with the fact that I am the only one who cares enough to clean certain things. My only pet peeve is the craziness inside the refrigerator. For the love of God, people, MUST you open multiple jars of the same food item? MUST YOU?

Anonymous said...

My husband refuses to wash any pot or pan bigger than his head.

Dinsdale said...

My parents were visiting last month and at one point my father made a cup of coffee and then accidentally knocked it over. AND THEN STOOD THERE LOOKING AT IT. There was coffee all over the counter, the floor, MY iPHONE, and I had to get out the paper towels, newspaper, wipes etc and clean it myself while telling him exactly what to do. ("Can you take the dishcloth and wipe the back of that chair?")

YOU ARE 78 YEARS OLD; I FAIL TO BELIEVE YOU HAVE NEVER SPILLED COFFEE BEFORE.

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I no longer suffer in silence. I speak right up, often in annoyed and exasperated tones. When the males leave stuff around assuming I'll deal with it I ignore it for awhile but when I reach my breaking point I do not deal with the thing myself. I assemble the males near the thing and ask "What is that? Why is that there? Why hasn't something been done with it?"
I'm convinced they just don't see it once they set it down and think "She'll deal with this" I'm pretty sure they also imagine themselves asking me to deal with it and if they don't see me to ask within 5 seconds they forget they haven't asked and what they imagined becomes what really happened. So as far as they are concerned they asked me, it's not their problem anymore and I'm the idiot who has been ignoring it ever since.
I once let an empty box sit on the kitchen table for 10 days. We ate meals around it. I had no idea what it was, why it was being kept, who put it there. Nothing, And when I asked my husband says "Oh that's trash. I thought you'd decided to keep it for some reason." And from that point I began calling family meetings after things were left in place for more than 48 hours

Lynn said...

This may be the greatest thing I've read on the internet - comments included. I need to have it put on a (really, really big) sampler to hang over my desk. SO TRUE.

Nellyru said...

Well, at my house the mess is ALL MINE. There are four messy people in this house, yet somehow it is messy BECAUSE OF ME. Any messes of the OTHER adult are there because I have made it TOO DIFFICULT for him NOT to make that mess. For example, our laundry hampers have lids-so he piles his dirty clothes ON TOP of the hamper because that lid just makes it TOO DIFFICULT to put it IN the hamper. Argh.

Katie said...

Right now. Before you finish reading this comment, you are to GO PICK UP THAT RUG AND THROW IT IN THE TRASH.

*Did you do it?*

Don't you feel BETTER?

I feel anxiety and anger after reading this. I feel it flaring up. I might go postal. I can't even go on. Because. YES. IT IS UNIVERSAL. AND IT SUCKS ASS.

Katie said...

Oh. And also. One time I threatened to just keep buying new dishes when we ran out because I will be DAMNED if I do those dishes that ARE NOT MINE. I didn't buy new dishes. But I did sleep in the basement in anger once and ended up waking up in the night with extreme situational vertigo. So. That really worked.

Katie said...

Oh. And another thing. One time I returned to my apartment after a weekend away and my college roommate (who never did ANY OF THE HOUSEWORK EVER) left a note saying "Something stinks in the hallway" and the only thing that was IN the hallway was the trash can. That was pretty awesome.

Anonymous said...

I work evenings. Husband works days. I manage to make dinner before I go to work (otherwise they would eat fast food every night because I didn't leave anything for them to eat). When I come home husband and child are asleep. And the pan dinner was cooked in is "soaking" in the sink. So I have to clean up at 11:30 at night when I get home. And he claims that he wasn't leaving it for me to clean. So who is he leaving it for? The little brownies that apparently miraculously clean the house each day when he isn't looking?

nonsoccermom said...

I don't comment a lot (though I am a regular reader) but I just had to say OMG YES. Somehow it makes me feel marginally better to know that it is not ONLY my family afflicted with this...problem.

In addition to everything above, especially the tendency to start random, unnecessary cleaning projects at inopportune times, my husband is selectively blind. As in, he apparently cannot see the crumbs generated by bread and will prep a sandwich directly on the counter without wiping up after. If at the end the looney bin people have to pinpoint EXACTLY what drove me over the edge, that will be the thing. "I don't know what happened, she just kept mumbling about the invisible crumbs!"

Anonymous said...

What gets me most is that he still brings up that he vacuumed the carpet. Which was 6 months ago! How often does he think the carpet (let alone the rest of the house) needs vacuuming??

Anonymous said...

This just sums it all up. My husband and son just returned from a trip, dumped all of their stuff in the family room (first room inside the door) and walked away. The same room I had just tidied and vacuumed. My daughter spread her school project out all over the place, finished and left the debris. Did I mention I had just cleaned? I have told my husband to unpack...let's see how many weeks it takes him.

Jenny said...

Wow. There's not a single major household job -- not one -- that is left exclusively to me. No, wait, I tell a lie: I keep track of birthdays and write common thank-you notes. Fair exchange, because he does all the finances and calls contractors. He (along with me) does doctor appointments and birthday parties, does child pickup and drop-off, picks up trash from the floor, does, folds, and puts away laundry, does dishes, wipes counters, mops floors, cleans bathrooms, vacuums, does yardwork and maintenance, cooks dinner 5 nights a week, grocery shops, and respects my leisure time as much as his own.

OF COURSE we have arguments about housework. But I don't get a whole lot of BS or willful blindness or assumptions that I'm the one designated for these jobs. I know how lucky I am.

Anonymous said...

why do women feel "lucky" if they have a spouse who does his share in the cleaning/upkeep of the home? why "lucky"? shouldn't adults be expected to clean after themselves? (and I don't mean specific tasks, as Swistle discusses in her post- I mean more generally-as in the everyday housecleaning chores that must be accomplished). if you say you are "lucky" that your spouse "helps" with these tasks, it implies that the tasks are YOURS, and that he is just provides optional assistance. what did these guys do before you came along?

Shannon said...

I was just reading a back issue of Real Simple (April 2012) at the pediatrician's office this morning and they had an article on women and time. It basically said how women no longer really fell like they have free time to relax and do nothing because of the never ending chore list. Basically, women's free time gets "contaminated" (I loved that they used this word) far more than men's free time by all manner of interruptions. No kidding. When I went walking with a new friend the other night and mentioned my husband offered to clean up the kitchen she quipped "Does he clean like a man or a woman?" Right.

Anonymous said...

I think the men are getting a little trashed in the comments here. I imagine most/many of us are married to/know men who are perfectly capable of participating equally in keeping the home clean and running. saying "men can't/won't clean" is similar to saying "women can't drive well (or some other stereotype)".

Swistle said...

Anonymous 2:08- I think we're talking about the annoying housekeeping issues in our own houses, with the adults we live with. Most commenters so far live with a male, so that's who they're complaining about; if most of them lived with a female, I'm sure we would have an equal number of complaints about those women. There's an enormous difference between saying "Men do this: ____!!!" and saying "Here's an annoying example of something done by the specific adult I live with, who happens to be male."

Jenny said...

@Anonymous 12:07 -- Lucky, because I live in a society that isn't utopian. I live in a society where according to studies, the majority of men don't take on an equal share of the housework, don't respect their partners' work and leisure time as they do their own, and do consider household tasks to be the woman's job. Since I don't live with that, I'm in the minority, and I'm privileged. If we lived in a perfect world, I wouldn't be lucky at all.

Anonymous said...

Jenny- I am 12:07- I understand that you (and I) are probably in a minority. BUT, as adult women with choices, we need to choose WISELY when looking for a spouse. if you're happy to do the lion's share of housekeeping (or money-earning, or child-rearing, whatever) then you should select a spouse/partner who is on the same page with that desire and division of labor. what i don't understand is people (women, mostly, in this case) who willingly marry grown men who are unable (unwilling?) to clean up after themselves. on a related note, i often hear how LUCKY some women are for having a partner who changes diapers/feeds child, etc. in my view, that is part of parenting.

Swistle said...

Anonymous 12:07 and Jenny- I think you both have good points. I don't like it either when a 50-50 split (or worse, "the guy doing anything at all") is considered something like winning the lottery---but I also think when we say things like "lucky," what we're typically doing is comparing our lives to average reality and to what we hear from others, which makes sense to me. Comparing to a non-existent ideal doesn't make anyone happy.

I think in general the sensible person chooses the best they can in a spouse, but that no one spouse is going to have EVERYTHING: every human has their strong points and weak points. We all try to choose well in the areas that are most important to us---if we're not doomed by instead falling in love, which unfortunately is what gets most of us anyway! Some say lovvvvvve...it eee-is a river....!

Tara said...

OH MY GOODNESS, YES! Jim is generally so helpful, but I often find things half done (I soaked the dishes, but I didn't rinse them out... LAST NIGHT). And about 8 years ago I put my foot down about his laundry. If it's on the floor next to the bed it doesn't get done. JUST WALK TO THE CLOSET. Of course, I'll think I've caught up on laundry and then he'll put all of his dirty clothes up and I have an extra load or two. Sigh. It's never going to let up, is it? My life is doomed to this sort of thing. :)

Anonymous said...

Mine too - he always insists that he "vacuums" anytime a discussion of chores comes up - we have lived in this house for over a year, and I only recall him vacumming once and that was in preparation for his nightmare of a family coming over, meanwhile I did everything else

Jenny said...

Swistle -- quite. And I had no idea what I was choosing when I got married, because I was 20 years old; we have developed this way together, which is another factor.

Love, it is a river! With piranhas!

M.Amanda said...

Good point, Swistle. I think most of us, mostly women, are griping specifically about the person/people we live with, which happens to be mostly men.

I'm sure somewhere, sometime my husband has gathered with people he has things in common with, probably mostly men, and griped about how my shoes rarely make it onto the shelf we have designated for shoes or how our vanity is always cluttered with hair stuff or how he always is the one to clean the toilet. It doesn't mean we don't love each other or haven't had an awesome 15 years together. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life.

Yes. I did just quote The Facts of Life theme. No apologies.

chrissy said...

I was going to be all positive and not comment on this post when I first read it, then I went to bed LATE last night and discovered that there was a hole in my down comforter, which shed feathers all up in the air and all over the bed when I tried to straighten it to get into bed. (NO, we do not make the bed- someone is still in it when I leave for work and that someone isn't inclined. I've let it go.)

Anyhoo, I removed the comforter, cleaned off the bed, got a new blanket, and then went to warn the husband not to put the comforter back until I could fix it, and he replied, "Oh, I know! I woke up covered in feathers this morning!" Ummmm. What?

Erica said...

The indefinitely "soaking" dishes thing and the getting ready for a party, better go clean out the gutters because THAT'S what people will notice thing. Those are mine. Also, toilets.

Kami said...

I can't help with the rodent deal but the stain thing I'am a pro at. My 6 year old had a bike wreck and her elbow bled a little in the night on her beautiful yellow sheets. Well if you knew me I toss out anything with a stain. My mom got me Amway stain remover. I haven't found one thing it can't take care of yet. No scrubbing either, none. It's magic I swear.

Good Enough Mom said...

My husband and I fight about this topic every Saturday morning. I refuse to let him be blind to this dynamic, but then he feels accused and berated. Ack. Lose-lose.

Thx for articulating your perspective so well...I will show this post to him next Saturday am, for sure!!!

Hope said...

I love the post and agree completely and yet, I'd like to play Devil's Advocate here for a moment... My husband is generally pretty tidy and helps with small tasks as he sees them, like doing dishes or taking out the trash, but as a stay-at-home-mom (and admitted control freak) I see all of the other chores as being my responsibility. I think it is my JOB to clean the toilets and mop the floors (and care for our child). He is the sole breadwinner, I am the sole "housekeeper." I'm not saying that I think housekeeping is Woman's Work, it's just MY work. I have a college degree, I could work outside of the home, but I chose THIS.

All this is not to say that I a) wouldn't be annoyed if my husband was a total slob or b) wouldn't expect my child(ren) to help with chores when they are old enough.

This also doesn't let anyone off the hook for wordlessly leaving a chore for me to do, cuz that sh*t's annoying. Nothing like being taken for granted!

Hope said...

Also I realize that most of your commenters seem to work outside the home, so my comment becomes a moot point. If I were to work full time again, I would expect the housework to be shared (and I'd probably be sorely disappointed).

Anonymous said...

the problem this at home caregiver/sole breadwinner distribution of labor is the outside the home job ENDS at some point during the day. the inside the home work and childcare are 24/7. so by distributing the work in this manner, one partner works 40 hours a week and has the rest of the time "off" and the stay at home parent is working 24/7. not a good distribution if you ask me. it seems to me that the at home parent would become QUITE resentful and burned out. plus, working outside the home is so much easier than being at home with kids. i work outside the home, and during the work day i go out to lunch with co-workers, answer my email in total, undisturbed peace and quiet, drink a hot cup of coffee at my leisure....so when the working parent arrives home, they have had more rest than the stay at home parent.

Swistle said...

Hope- We had a similar plan at our house until after the twins were born: at that point, there were too many children for the at-home role to be childcare and also all the housework. (I had also realized what Anonymous, above, just reminded me of: that it's not fair for one parent to get evenings and weekends off, and the other one not to. We've had that concept in place for so long, I'd forgotten it was in place!) The dynamic changed again when I started earning some money from writing/blogging.

But the two housework issues in the post still peeved me even when I considered the housework almost entirely mine, which is why they get the award!

Hope said...

I totally agree, Anon, but, at least in my case, even the spouse/partner working outside the home does not get time "off" just because it's 5 o'clock when there are children at home. When my husband gets home, I'll wash the dishes while he watches our daughter or he's doing laundry while I'm watching her. No one is really off duty unless it's something we discussed. But I also agree, Swistle, that the dynamics will change with any additional children. It will become harder to do all the housework myself and we'll have to reassess.

artemisia said...

AAAARRRRGGGGGHHHH!

And: Amen.