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1:29 p.m. - October 28, 2005
The One Where the Ladies Rejoice and the Men Fret
Marriage, of course, is a partnership. And like all partnerships, there’s give and take, and a separation of powers and duties.

Now while I totally cede all decorating to her (except I have veto power over anything that is too foofy) and she basically cedes all lawn mowing to me, at times we have shared equally in many of the chores around the house.

When Liz was working, we really split a lot of those household duties, with some exceptions. Here’s a rundown of some of what I used to do or still do, in fact.

• Yard work – I mowed the grass, did the weeding, edging, etc. Liz planted our flowers, but I watered them and gave them some fertilizer now and then. Once in a while, Liz would rake the leaves, but I think that was just to get out of the house and get some exercise. (Stressful job? Take it out on some dead organic matter!)

• Cooking – I really like to cook, and wish I wasn’t so busy and tired to really go for it. I’m overdue to make some Swiss steak, some chicken and noodles, and my tortellini dish. I need to get back in the swing of it. When Liz worked I made dinner most of the time because she got home later and she was so stressed dinner for her could have easily been three Tylenol and a bottle of Merlot.

• Child Care – One thing that bugs me is when men say that they are ‘babysitting’ their kids. The hell they are! They’re being DAD! That’s what you’re supposed to do. Morons. I’ve definitely did all of the Dad things that you’re supposed to do. In fact, I was the one who was lucky (lucky?) enough to experience the umbilical cord falling off of each child. Both times I had to rescue it from being a cat toy. (Why do cats always seem to be in the wrong place at the right time? Why do they always flow towards the one open door you don’t want them to go into? Questions for later, I suppose).

• Dishes – I can’t really abide a sink full of dishes. So when it reaches critical mass – I grab the iPod (so I can groove) and start unloading and loading. I also make sure our skillets and other major cookery has been SOSed (note: I rarely sing Abba when using SOS pads – though I have been known to. But that doesn’t make me any less of a manly man. And of course, I never sing Abba when using Brillo) and cleaned, and am the ace griddle cleaner of West Central Indiana. (A noble title, for sure).

• Trash – Here is my essay on our recycling issues in our town. I try to keep the trash moving up and out of the house. This includes litter box duty. Butch and Sundance, being well fed cats, keep that process hopping as well. Someone has to remember to do it, why not me?

• TiVo – Hey, someone’s gotta keep the playlist cleaned up. (Oh, that’s not really a HOUSEHOLD chore...or really a chore…sigh).

Then there’s things that I don’t do. Not because I can’t. It’s because I can’t very well.

• Dusting – Hah! Hah! Dusting. That’s rich. Me dusting! Oh, I’ve done it before but it has rarely passed muster.

• Ironing – I never developed a flair for this. It may be a mental block, or something. Liz doesn’t like to do this either. Fortunately, I don’t have many all cotton shirts. Otherwise I’d be rumply man.

• Vacuuming – Now when Liz was working, I vacuumed a bit. I was being a nice guy. But now, she makes it her purview. But the other day I did use the vacuum. Yeah, I did. (OK, I made a mess taking the kitty litter out to the trash. Yeah, it was a foul on me. So I was noble and cleaned up my mess.) Our current vacuum is see-through, so you can see all the crap on the carpet. One wonders why we’re not sick 24/7/365.

(BTW – have you ever had some of those vacuum salesmen come by the house and offer to clean a room with the super-duper-mega-high-priced cleaner? I was home from work one afternoon doing nothing but watching TV and having a glass or two of wine and this guy offered to come in and clean our carpet to show us the glop this cleaner could get out of our living room carpet. Sure, why not? I booted him out of our house in less than three minutes after he was done!)


• Making the bed – Liz is a stickler for a made bed. I only made the bed when the sheets needed to be changed. I don’t think this is a male / female thing. I think this is a prioritization thing.

Since Liz is a stay at home (and does have a little helper – as Katie for some reason likes to clean the tables and chairs with Pledge) she’s taken a lot of responsibility in the housework, and she’s fine with it as long as I help out in some ways (the trash, the dishes, cooking, not stringing Cheetoes all over the dang floor).

But there’s one chore that I do, and I couldn’t imagine her doing for me unless I’m in a real jam.

I do my own laundry.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me repeat:

I do my own laundry.

Sure, Liz does her laundry, and now does the majority of the kids laundry, the towels the sheets and what not (though I do lend a hand and run some of those things through the machines now and then – and when Liz was working I always did Katie’s laundry right after mine if it needed to be done).

Why does this man do his own laundry? Is he some renaissance husband, or just a freak?

I think it comes down to it, it can be described in one word.

Underwear.

I’ve handled all kinds of laundry with kid goop, pet puke, and other various household accidents. And certainly, I don’t have an aversion to handing underwear in *certain* instances.

But I really don’t want to do other people’s – and I feel that they feel the same way about mine. Underwear gets a little personal at times – each pair knows your little secrets in life, and you need to treat them with care. The stories my boxers could tell.

So, for that reason, every Sunday, after church, I carefully negotiate our back stairs (which, mind you, is tricky with a full basket o’ clothes) and start in on my laundry.

I check for spots, I pre-treat, I load, I wash, I unload, I put in the dryer sheet, I dry, I hang up, I fold.

Nothin’ to it.

Now, gents, I don’t want to burden your life any further – and ladies, I don’t want you to start naggin’ on yer man any more than absolutely necessary. Because I feel, as Wilford Brimley feels, it’s the right thing to do.

Besides, doing my own laundry means I never have to try my hand at dusting again. And for that, our entire household is thankful.

 

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