Friday, April 6, 2012

Thoughts on My First Week as a "Housewife"

Robbie and I have always had a pretty egalitarian agreement when it comes to housework.  We've lived together for close to four years, and during most of that time--until now, in fact--I was the only one working. As a result, cleaning the house, doing the dishes, cooking dinner, and walking the dog automatically fell to Rob.  He never complained or whined, partially because he's fabulous but also because it made sense that he'd do these things while I was working and paying our bills.

Even during last summer, when he had a research assistant job, I was working long hours and if he came home early enough he'd still make dinner and get a lot of the chores done.

For my part, I have always felt anxious about housework, especially if Rob's doing it.  It's not like I think that housework is solely my responsibility as a bona fide lady--because it isn't--but I've always had a sneaking suspicion that Rob didn't think our arrangement was fair.  I was terrified that it actually wasn't fair and that I was unknowingly taking advantage of his awesomeness.  Despite the fact that he never questioned the arrangement and despite the fact that I paid all the bills, I was still terrified that I was simply a terrible wife.

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For the record I'm not sure where the guilt comes from; my parents didn't typically adhere to traditional gender roles and neither Rob nor I have ever put much stock in them. My best guess is that it simply stems from one of my greatest talents, and that is feeling guilty for shit I don't need to feel guilty for. I also wanted to point out that I've never believed that women who either chose to work or chose to be housewives and stay at home moms were anti-feminist; I've always strongly believed that feminism is about having the choice to do whatever the hell you want to do.  I've only ever bestowed the "bad wife" judgement upon myself and no other.

Anyway before Rob started working we talked about how things would change.  For the foreseeable future I'll be working from home, which means by default housework will fall to me.  I was really nervous at first because, and this has taken me awhile to admit and accept, I am super lazy.  Before Rob started working a task like washing dishes was almost physically painful for me.

But I've been a sort-of "housewife" for five days now, and I have to say that I kind of like it.

In between working--which takes up a lot of my time for obvious reasons--I've been cleaning, walking and feeding Cypress, going shopping, and doing whatever miscellaneous errands may need doing. As silly as it is to admit I like when Rob gets home and the house is clean and dinner is almost ready, not because I'm a woman and it's my duty, but because I just like having the ability to keep the house organized on top of getting my normal work done.  I like that yesterday I decided to clean our sheets and make the bed on a work break, and that Rob was so excited when he got home and saw that I'd done it. I suppose I like seeing the concrete benefit of the work I do around the house during the day, since the benefits that come from doing my job and paying bills are often external and less tangible, if that makes any sense at all.

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I'm sure you can guess that I'm not nearly as hard on Rob as I was on myself when it was just me working.  When he comes home he helps with dinner and I know he will continue to do so on weekends, but I don't give him the same side-eye I gave myself if he sits on the couch for a half-second with the dog before jumping up to wash a dish I just used.

I guess my point is that this whole process is helping me to see the give and take of marriage and how important it is to view marriage as a partnership.  At this point I'm really hoping that I will keep up with writing about this as my role in our mini-family morphs and changes with Rob's employment choice, since his new job is such that it will likely dictate most of what I do in the coming years.

I wish you all a happy Friday and a lovely weekend!

Both photos are from Anne Taintor.

5 comments:

  1. I feel like I could have written this myself. (Although definitely not nearly as eloquently as you did! Haha) I am the queen of feeling guilty for dumb shit too. And your whole feminism ideal, about choice, YES.

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  2. i would have a hard time being a housewife at your house because i would just want to sit on the back patio reading all day long. my duties would constantly be neglected.

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  3. Oh, yes! Steve and I split things pretty much 50/50 because we both work office hours, but on those days when I'm too tired or I'm sick or he just happens to do more than me, I have to remind myself that he's probably not resenting me for "being lazy"; he's just getting on with what needs done, the same as I do when the situation is reversed.

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  4. Glad to see you're enjoying it! I do work about 20 hours a week with my kiddos, but for the most part I think it's a fair trade for all the time I get to spend hanging around at home. Plus I usually put on a good show or movie while I clean and then it's like I didn't even clean at all, just watched TV. =P

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  5. And with this post I continue to adore the relationship the two of you have. Seriously, that's so awesome that he would take care of everything before & that even now that you're taking over he still happily helps. I feel like this is often such a big conflict between couples, and you guys have it figured out without any complaining or anything. I'm so happy you guys are falling into a new, happy routine in your new home & that things seem to be working out so far. Good for you guys! :)

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