Friday, June 15, 2007


I was reading I Blame the Patriarchy where there's a discussion about marriage and its downfalls. In the comments, which are often really good, there was a great deal of discussion about housework and the unequal distribution thereof, which led to this article:

The Politics of Housework

It was, in a word, fascinating. And dead on.

Every woman I know in any sort of a relationship has to deal with housework. No matter how equal you are walking in to the relationship, the burden falls to the women to handle the majority of the chores. Men are given a standing ovation for any part of household work they handle.

My own mother referred to Eric staying home with Caitlin for her first year of life as "babysitting". I corrected her and let her know that he was (and is) parenting. Fabulous as it was for him to stay home, I would still come home from work and have the "What are we having for dinner?" discussion.

We've had lots and lots of talks that went around and around the housework issues. It's the single most irritating aspect of living with another person on a permanent basis. It's our greatest area of tension and while I know that some number of you are thinking that I should be grateful that it's something as trivial as housework, try to remember: housework is daily. Surviving together, with a child in the house is a grinding business. Every day we eat, we use the bathrooms, we wear clothing and every day someone has to make the food, clean up the dishes, clean the bathrooms, wash the clothes, feed the cats and take care of the kid.

Every. Single. Day.

That continual source of stress (because it is a source of stress) wears on you. We've made a lot of adjustments over time and things are still changing.

Since I'm massively pregnant, things are different now. There's a lot that I can't do, mainly because after about 15 minutes of standing my feet swell up and my abdomen tightens down in a Braxton-Hicks contraction. As much as I hate the cat hair and dust soup we live in, I'm far more paranoid about the idea of winding up in labor at 24 weeks, so the house? It's a wreck. This is the wreck state that includes Eric doing pretty much all of the dishes, laundry and fetching chores. The stuff that invades your house (bills, schoolwork, artwork, plant matter, periodicals) is constant and becomes hard to keep up with or throw out. When we're both tired, everything falls apart.

Hiring help is a nice idea, but we' challenged at the moment and hiring someone to clean up after us is a luxury item.

Yes, rather like that trip we just went on. However, keep in mind that we went on the trip knowing that we won't have a chance to do so again for, oh, two or more years. So as continual luxury items go, hiring out the work won't be happening any time soon. Besides, if you look at the from the outside, we'd again be hiring some other woman who probably stands lower on the financial success ladder than we do, to clean up after us. We're not incapable of cleaning, we just don't want to yet we want the pretty, clean house that is not possible to have on a daily basis without either an obsessive compulsive disorder or hiring out the work.

In the meantime, Martha Stewart won't be visiting and friends and family will need to accept the current version of Hatchet House cleanliness.

No worries, though - the food (when we're not too hot/tired/pregnant to cook) is still excellent!

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