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Posts Tagged ‘housework’

I’m beginning to feel my age. Texting has changed our language, no longer can we write a complete sentence, we can barely complete a word. That baby isn’t adorable, he’s “adorb!” But what trips me up from time to time is the abundance of new acronyms! OTOH = on the other hand; IDK = I don’t know; YOLO = you only live once; WTF = what the ….heck?” It’s almost as if young people are creating their own cryptograms as a get-around for our generation.

Recently, I had to look up one of these – WFH! Short for Working from home,” a very popular post these days! It is usually accompanied by a smiley face emoji with a wink. I immediately laughed at this particular acronym because as a woman of a certain age, I’ve always worked from home. Even when I was driving to a job as a pre-school teacher, I would come home to cooking, cleaning and the usual things it takes to run a household.

When I settled into writing for a newspaper, I always wrote in a corner of my dining room. When I was done, I’d email my copy in and walk into the kitchen and start dinner. Even Great Grandma Ada had her counseling office right next to her kitchen!

But today, our generation has raised some strong, post-feminist women who believe in an EQUAL partnership with their spouse. They make flow charts about who changes the sheets and does the laundry, who cooks and who cleans up the kitchen, who makes the list and shops. And all the quiet work of scheduling doctor’s appointments for the kids, or tracking their currently non-existent playdates and sports events.

In Nashville today, we have nearly 5,000 confirmed cases of Covid19,  – “IOW” – in other words, lots and lots of people are WFH.

Working from home means we see cats crawling across keyboards, dogs still bark at the mailman, one guy accidentally picks up his knee and we get to see his boxer shorts, we hear babies crying! During our virtual will planning session with our lawyer, her baby was inconsolable and I wondered, “Where’s your husband?”

So if you were wondering how the division of home labor stacks up, gender-wise, during our Corona Crisis, I’ve got just the podcast for you! NPR’s Terri Gross interviewed the author of “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time,” Brigid Schulte. She tells us that even today, women, enlightened, smart, woke women are bearing the brunt of the housework. https://www.npr.org/2020/05/21/860091230/pandemic-makes-evident-grotesque-gender-inequality-in-household-work

“We’ve got this grand mythology (breadwinner vs homemaker model) that that’s really what a family should be,” she says. “We still think that one person should go out to work and be responsible for all of the work and earning and supporting the family. … And there should be … somebody always available at home to do the care and carework.”

But Schulte says that families aren’t monolithic and shouldn’t be treated as such. She says the pandemic has created an opportunity to start a dialogue about the distribution of household tasks.”

Schulte says that she had been carrying alot of radioactive anger around, feeling overwhelmed in her marriage. But she brought up the Notorious RBG, who once had a call from school to pick up her child, and she told the school secretary to call her husband, it was his turn! She said to treat your marriage and family almost like a business, you wouldn’t want your business to fail, right?

I saw a funny YouTube of a woman pleading to God NOT to make her teach math. I remember when the Bride first started homeschooling, I told her her husband is a natural teacher. In higher education it’s called being an “academic.” In fact, he gets awards for his research and teaching skills. Harmony prevailed when they figured out he could do some home-schooling when he wasn’t in the hospital, and she continues to enjoy cooking and baking bread. Sourdough bread.

When she’s not saving lives in her ER. Or teaching a Yoga Zoom class.

I have a feeling since our pandemic quarantine, lots of men around the world are waking up to the tireless domestic work it takes to run a household. The patience it takes to teach and nurture a child. Our L’il Pumpkin learned how to ride a two-wheeler during our lockdown. The Love Bug built a diorama of a fox for her last day of Zoom class.

Now’s the time to have that critical conversation with your loved one. Don’t keep picking up their socks and putting them in the hamper. Don’t hold grudges. If you’re both WFH, pick a day to do housework – Bob always vacuums, I always cook. He weeds the garden and has started doing the laundry, I do the bathrooms. We both sew masks. Don’t let underlying resentment eat away at your marriage.

OTOH we’ve started doing Pilates together, two mats on the floor and a Zoom class every Tuesday and Saturday. And it’s a wonderful thing.

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After finishing up my Mother’s Day essay, I settled myself on a heating pad and read this: http://www.aww.com.au/latest-news/lets-talk/lesson-to-my-daughter-20482

Annabel Crabb, an Australian writer, gives her daughter the gift of an important life lesson. Now we all know, once our daughters have hit about age 16, there’s pretty much nothing we can do to influence them. OH we can try. We can bash our heads against a wall with cajoling and bribery, and occasionally they may listen. If I had a 16 year old today on social media, I’d pretty much raise my hands in surrender.

But a funny thing happens when they grow up and start a family of their own, they actually ask you for advice! It may not happen often, and sometimes it’s after all other friends and Google searches have left them needing more, let’s say, sage wisdom from the one person in their world who knew them when. And normally I’d say wait for this to happen. The one golden rule of grandparenting is never to offer advice, unless and until you are asked for it.

But there are times when your tongue just has a mind of its own, like after Happy Buddha Baby (let’s call him Happy Bud) was born. I remember leaving Nashville one time and telling my daughter that,

“…cleaning up just isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things,” on my way out the door.

Now for those of you who know the Bride, them’s fighting words. She is an organizational genius, a Type A+ personality who can make dinner, include the Love Bug in food prep, nurse the baby and do her patient notes all in the same evening.

I am the opposite. Multi-tasking was always beyond me, a dream that might happen at any second but usually, nah. The Flapper once told me that housekeeping skills usually skipped a generation, and now I believe her. But I think it’s because we grow up either in clutter chaos and can never find anything, or we grow up severely regimented under the thumb of a neat freak. And so we rebel, and become the opposite of our Mother in that regard. Once the Rocker’s friend came over to borrow a pair of his boots for Halloween in Middle School and was dumb struck when I replied i couldn’t find them. Seriously, she was one of six and her Mom knew where everything was, every single thing at every minute of the day!

And so I was prepared to like this essay from Australia about why a Mom wouldn’t change anything at all about her “untidy life.” Except for her premise – we should do less instead of “whining and moaning” because the men in our lives don’t pull their weight; “…women still do about twice as much housework as men.”

And guess what, in America we do three times as much housework as men! http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/22/women-better-at-housework-men-better-at-avoiding-it

But is doing less the answer to a happy marriage? Because if we start to do less and still expect him to do more, to pick up the slack, we might be surprised. So complain all you want ladies – and let his socks sit at the foot of the bed because they haven’t grown feet and walked themselves into the laundry basket. In fact, let that basket founder for a few days and see what happens. In other words, men cannot intuit what we want – we must tell them!

I am happy to report that the last time I walked in the door, after a 9 hour journey, the living room looked like a toddler fun house had exploded inside. I was so ecstatic!

"Cleaning up after a toddler is like trying to shovel snow in a snowstorm" Old Berkshire saying

“Cleaning up after a toddler is like trying to shovel snow in a snowstorm” Old Berkshire saying

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