These last few weeks have been hectic. I’ve been preparing for our Spinners and Weavers annual exhibition and sale, and also for our trip overseas. I wanted to clear a lot of my writing work before I go—and I’ve had less time to do it. And what of the housework? A well-meaning friend said that I should get Bob to help me with that, since he is retired. I smiled and shook my head.
“Bob doesn’t help me,” I said, “and I don’t want him to help me.”
Let me explain before everyone gets too upset.
Bob doesn’t help with the tidying up. He tidies, yes, but it’s his house, too, and he wants it to be tidy. He doesn’t help with the shopping. He does the shopping because he eats the food that he buys, just as I do. He doesn’t help with the washing. He does the washing and hangs it up and puts it away because they’re his clothes, too, and he wants them to be clean.
Bob has been that way most of his life. When the children were younger, he didn’t help me with them. He played with them and read to them and drove them to activities and bathed them. He listened to their joyful and sad moments and, like me, he tried to give them what they needed to be independent, happy people. He did this for our children because they were his children, too, and he was always the best dad that he could be.
If I said that he helped me, I’d be saying that the job was mine to do. Too many women subconsciously accept that and take on the responsibility and the frustration and the overwhelm of everything that goes with running a home and bringing up children. When we were younger he would offer to do things “for me”. “I’ll hang out the clothes for you”, he’d say. I would point out that he wasn’t actually doing it for me. He’d laugh and accept my point. I refused to own the tasks, even if I was often the one who did them—and now I’m glad I did.
Now, because I’m still working, Bob does more in the house than he’s ever done before. He makes breakfast, stacks the dishwasher, does most of the washing, nearly all of the shopping, and if I mention that I intend to do something—such as the vacuuming or watering the plants—I’ll often come home to find that it’s been done.
So Bob absolutely does contribute to the daily tasks that go with having a home together. But no, in the sense that my friend meant it, he doesn’t help me.
How does it work in your home?