I am starting to believe house cleaning is as hard as rocket science. It’s just so easy for women to do, that we can’t comprehend how difficult it really is. Men, on the other hand, like to pretend they are above women’s work, or that they don’t care about any of it, masking their inability to grasp how all things domestic work.
One time I asked my husband (since he was up and I was in the middle of dinner) if he would put the sheets in the dryer. “Sure,” he says. Then he stood, staring at the washer and dryer, sort of pushing things around on the shelf above them. “I don’t see any sheets,” he finally said.
“TAKE THE FLIPPING WET BED SHEETS FROM THE WASHER AND PUT THEM INTO THE FREAKING DRYER, YOU DUMMY,” I wanted to shout. But then I remembered, this was just a miscommunication, so I nicely restated my earlier instruction, like I’m talking to a 70 IQ. “Will you please put the wet sheets that are in the washer into the dryer for me?”
“Oh,” he says, “I thought you meant dryer sheets,” (which I never use, and we don’t own), and he stuffs the sheets into the dryer. Task completed correctly … I assumed. BUT, he just shoved the sheets in with the previous load of clothes that were already dry. This might not have been such a big deal, but the waterproof pad for the kids’ bed was in there, and it burned into one large smelly plastic ball.
I was gossiping about this with my friend overone day, when an older lady came up to us and said, “Sorry to eavesdrop, but bleach in the dryer.”
“What?” my friend and I asked.
“My husband poured bleach into the dryer,” she said.
How do these men run successful businesses? They can hardly feed and dress themselves. I have obviously underestimated the difficulty of household tasks.
Are all men like this? I asked my friends. Here is what they said:
“I just happened to walk into the kitchen as my husband was putting the dish sponge back onto the kitchen counter after scrubbing his SHOES with it. He works in a particularly dirty industry and then takes the subway home. That is not exactly what I wanted spread all over my dishes. My next thought, ‘How many times has he done this before?’” — married one year
“When our twin girls were toddlers, my husband and I were both working full-time. I was overwhelmed with the housework so I begged him to help. Well, he did … by using the LEAF BLOWER to clean the floors.” — married 32 years
"My husband gallops around the house trailing French bread crumbs ... I can always tell when he’s been in a spot before me. Whether it’s the water droplets that stream down the bathroom mirror, or the tomato soup splattered on a freshly painted wall, it is like he is scratching ‘T was here’ on everything he touches.” — married six years
Another friend (married 29 years) told me she couldn’t tell me all the stupid things her husband does in the house. “I would,” she said, “but I try to forget as soon as it happens or else I wouldn’t be able to stay married to him.”
Of course, I secretly like that my husband is incapable. It gives me job security. I tell myself he would not survive without me. Who would find his belt for him that is hanging in the closet? I like that our gender roles are separated, that our marriage is not a melting pot. I like that I am in charge of the kids and the house (not to imply housework is actually getting done), and he is in charge of working and the lawn. But sometimes I just want a hand, or better yet, to believe I am worth more to him than if I were just the hired help. (Maria Shriver must have been cleaning up after Arnie for so long that – thinking it was his wife – he mistakenly slept with the maid.)
I also fear that if my husband was good at keeping house, his expectations of me might be greater. He never comes home and says, “What have you done all day?” looking at the dirty floor and the unfolded clothes. He never grumbles about . And the poor man will just hang up his work clothes, to be worn again, if he knows replacements aren’t going to magically get washed and ironed. He never complains, he never judges. (Oh, I just realized, I’m such an ungrateful P.O.S.)
(Luckily, I am not the breadwinner because if I came home to a dirty house and no dinner, I would raise hell. No worries about that happening … I am not a good worker. I spend more time designing Molotov cocktails and slipping the “to be filed” pile into the trash can, than doing any work.)
In our post-postmodern, fifth-wave, neo-feminist society, I think many of us dream about a wonderful home where the man cooks, and you clean, and then he stays up one night breast feeding the baby, and then you breast feed the next night. But this idyllic philosophy never mentions that men are morons when it comes to this stuff. They forget to check if the bathwater is scalding hot. They take a kid out in July at mid-day with no water. They buy your 18-month-old supersized strawberry .
But it is like I keep hoping I’ll wake up and he has morphed – due to my constant harping – into Mary Poppins. Maybe if I just relaxed, focused on what I’m good at, and stopped trying to change him, I would be a lot happier. And possibly, if I saved all that energy I spend wishing he would be more like a wife, I could use it to get a little housework done (now that I know I’m highly skilled like a rocket scientist).
I feel like we are constantly fighting to prove there is no difference between men and women. But there ARE differences. And maybe we would all achieve a lot more if we started embracing our distinctions instead of denying them.
Now man, go kill me some dinner.
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