Full disclosure – this will be an angry and whiney post.
My upbringing has been a product of the feminism movement. Both parents did well in ingraining into my phsyche that I could do anything and everything I wanted. Both my parents worked – and I assumed I would go to college and have a full career. From an early age I knew I didn’t really want kids – but I did want to work and have a happy home life – hopefully with a partner of some kind.
Enter my world. I have the career – due to some serious mental health issues it is NOT the high powered-science centric-emotionally fulfilling job of my childhood dreams. But, it pays the bills and I’m reasonably good at it. I now have the house. I have the partner. I also have a version of the 1950’s playing out at my house each and every day. Unfortunatley, it’s not the Leave it to Beaver version – it’s the Female = Cook/Maid version.
How is it that the great ideas of our fore-mothers to get equality into the mix have backfired so hugely? I work all day. I have a long-ass commute. I’m reasonably intelligent. I bring home more than 50% of the household income. I pay a comparable percentage of the household bills. But, while The Big Guy grudgingly takes care of the yard, the fish pond and the wild bird feeding I’m left with the rest.
What is the rest, you ask? Cooking – check. Laundry, Cleaning Bathrooms, Upkeep of Hardwood Floors (the bane of my freaking existance – WHY did I want these things?), Polishing of Stainless Steel Appliances – check, check, check, check. Management of all technological items from setting up the TiVo, connecting the cable, and configuring the wireless network to posting all items on Craigslist – those are all mine too. I also get to do things like make all the calls to credit cards, banks and those nice people on Craigslist who’ve got stuff we want. The list just goes on and on and on… Cat litter cleaning, grocery list preparation, meal planning, grocery shopping, returns to Walmart, coupon clipping, figuring out the best deal on birdseed per pound at which store with all deals tossed in… THESE ARE ALL FREAKING MINE in our household.
How is it that I work outside the home just as much as my partner, but when he gets home in the evening he showers and cuddles up in front of the fire with some Netflix streaming and I’m scrubbing out the shower?
I must say that The Big Guy warned me when we first started dating that he was very traditional in household division of labor. My housekeeping skills have *never* been superior to anything outside of a house-about-to-be-condemned hoarder. I figured – I can take it. My silly mind used turns of phrase like “it will keep me motivated!” Silly girl that I was.
So, now it’s been nearly four years and our principal source of conflict is housekeeping – or more appropriately – my lack of it. I usually have food prepped for the week and clothes cleaned, folded and put away. But, things like clean bathrooms and floors often fall behind. I just don’t care all that much – but I don’t live alone. So, now while I’m running down my list of wants: dinner with girlfriends, a Saturday spent with my sister, a business meeting to promote my awesome direct sale business – the response I get is usually along the lines of: “You need to focus more on your home life and less on what *you* want.”
Several friends have suggested a housekeeper. I’m warming up to the idea – even if my bank account isn’t. I figure – if $200/ month will save my relationship and give me my life back is it worth it? Yeah, probably. But, right now I don’t *have* $200 extra a month to provide for a cleaning person.
So, what am I left with? Anger at the feminist movement is what. Sure, it got me closer to the pay rate for men in the workplace and provided things like maternity leave job protection that I won’t use, but is never-the-less important. But, it also got me the expectation that I will bring in 50% of the income while never fully taking away the 100% responsibility of keeping house. This leaves me with what feels like 0% time left for myself.
I know, whiney, right? But, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you. Grrrr…..