So Relaxed I Am Practically Unconscious

This Started As Q&A But It Escaped Me

But first a few questions from the ol' email bag:

Why are you a Fertility/Adoption finalist? Um, I got this question (in different forms) no fewer than eight times today. I think these people came over from the blog awards page and couldn't figure out what my problem is. I mean, the problem with my girl bits (if any). I don't think they were asking why ME and not Julie from a little pregnant although that is a DAMN FINE QUESTION. I interpreted this more as a request for my stirrup cred, which is understandable. The Clif version is: my husband has a balanced translocation of chromosomes which causes horrible abnormalities in embryos that in turn has led to six miscarriages and one second-trimester abortion, all of which have led to an unpleasant few years. We do have a son, though, and we are terribly terribly greedy so we are trying to have another one (child that is, sex optional. I mean, the future child's sex is strictly optional although I suppose the hot and nasty sex is optional, too, because we are starting an IVF cycle on Sunday.) In all fairness I probably talk about laundry as often if not more often than I discuss sperm but in the absence of a Housewife Blog category (which I would DOMINATE) I tend to get the honor of being grouped with the smartest, funniest, edgiest women on the Internet. I bow.

Do you have control issues? Yes. Of course. What tipped you off? My pathological need to have EVERYTHING organized or the fact that I brag about it as if I am unaware that being pathological is a bad thing?

When are you actually starting your IVF cycle? Sunday! Pay attention! Actually, Steve asked this question too, tonight. He wanted to know when we are supposed to start injections and then he wanted to know when in the day they had to be done and then he worried about Patrick seeing him give me shots. This is more forethought than Steve has shown since I met him, so I was touched. And yes, I know it is pathetic that I was touched that Steve remembered, sort of, that I am going to start putting big needles full of unkind drugs into my soft parts this weekend. Steve, as you may recall, has some "limitations" when it comes to "compassion" for my "suffering" during this "difficult time."

Aren't you ashamed of yourself for perpetuating an outdated stereotype of marriage and motherhood in which the female partner's role is akin to that of domestic servitude? Actually, the real email said something like, "Bitch, you need to get a J-O-B" and was in response to my great big food post. I was amused. What? Organizing my pantry isn't a job?

Actually, let's talk about this one, shall we?

If I tell you I do not like sushi and I particularly do not like uni, would you get offended and start arguing with me? Would you try to tell me that, in fact, that vile orange glop is NOT the consistency of regurgitated baby tongue? Well, maybe if you are an assholio, but for the most part people accept that sort of thing as personal preference.

There are a few givens in every domestic economy. Money (or I suppose some product that can be bartered, but let's keep this simple shall we?) needs to be earned; food needs to be provided; and clothes and toilets need to be cleansed with a regularity that is acceptable to all parties. You can add a zillion things to this list, but it all roughly breaks down into cash and services. If you are alone, you do it all or you pay someone to help you. If you are in a partnership, then you do it or your partner does it or you pay someone. It is that simple and, really, all that matters is that everyone involved is in agreement over how the work gets divided.

I know someone for whom this has been an issue since their first date. He met a woman who was vehemently opposed to the roles that women have traditionally assumed in the home. She found the idea of cleaning a bathroom sexist and offensive. So she worked in an office and he worked in an office and they paid someone to take care of the housework. They divided food preparation equally or ate out. And this was fine until she quit her job, but still felt that taking care of the house was not her responsibility. So this friend of mine would get up early and go out to earn the money that supported their comfortable life, part of which includes paying the salary of a cleaning person. Inevitably, he began to feel like he was being taken advantage of because he felt he was contributing more than she was. And this argument is still being played out, almost daily. I don't think he is really saying, "Woman! Get in the kitchen and make me a pie!" so much as he is saying, "I am doing X here and you are doing x-1."

For what it is worth, I do not think this argument will be resolved for them anytime soon, but I will keep you posted. 

In our house I am responsible for everything related to food. I also do the laundry and put it away. I clean the bathrooms and the kitchen and the floors. I pick up toys CONSTANTLY. I handle the social obligations, including buying gifts, writing thank you notes and making sure that Patrick leaves the occasional adorable but incomprehensible voicemail for Steve's parents. I call his sisters when it has been too long since we have heard from them. I pay our personal bills and do the bookkeeping for Steve's business (his partner handles the billing, so my part is just tracking our share of expenses and profits.) I deal with our accountant and banker and broker and planner and I make the decisions concerning the portfolios. I run the Target errands and the clothes shopping errands and the post office errands and the Patrick appointment errands.    

Steve gets up with Patrick every morning and feeds him breakfast. Anywhere between 8 and 9 they wake me up, usually with a cup of tea. I then have Patrick until 5 or 6 when Steve comes out of his office for dinner. After dinner Steve gives Patrick a bath, plays with him for an hour or so and then puts him to bed.   

Steve, obviously, also earns the money that pays the bills and does car stuff and yard stuff and home improvement stuff.

We then pay someone who works anywhere from 10 to 30 hours a week doing random big things around the house and yard.

So that is our distribution of labor and it makes us shimmy. Does it follow some bold 1950s pattern? Yep, pretty much. Was it derived from that pattern? Hell no. We have just gravitated towards the tasks that best suit us.

I went off on a tangent, but I really wanted to ask you how your house is run and whether you think it is equitable or if you fight about it. The only time Steve and I fight over housework is when company is expected and I say, "I need help doing such-and-such." Inevitably, Steve will choose this moment to start some MASSIVE home improvement project that involves tearing down a wall or digging up the front walk. And when I say, "Fuck, Steve, how hard is it to just make the goddamned guest bed?" he says, "Well, you know I have been meaning to re-trench the septic system for some time..." And I am obligated to stab him with a fork, which leaves me with another fork to clean.

So long answer, but no, I do not feel bad about my blatant housewifery. In fact, it makes me giggle. Of course, in ten years I am blowing this popsicle stand and going on a book tour, just watch me.

Is it different for you?