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Anyone’s For A Farthing

Washday Blues

Because you crave one, it’s time for a thrilling adventure in the world of detergent.

My husband does the laundry. No one asks him to, and often no one thanks him for doing it. But somehow, every week, our clothes, our kids’ clothes, the towels, the sheets; they all get cleaned. And with each load, the jealousy grows.

Should readers be confused – and I quite understand – the jealousy is that of Erin Hendriksen, a contributor to Scary Mommy.

Throwing the piles into the washing machine is definitely the easy part. From there, he sorts them into mounds of hang-dry vs. dryer items, hangs the clothes, folds the towels and clothes, and puts the fresh sheets on the beds. A couple of times per week, I walk into our bedroom to find a tidy little pile of my clothes. They are folded with tenderness, neatly stacked, and grouped by category. 

What glorious man-creature is this?

I know he would put them away, too, if only he knew where they went.

A flaw. Thank goodness.

That is not even close to all he does around the house either. He’s the dishwasher, the grocery collector, the garbage remover, and the maintenance man. He follows behind us all, picking up the thrown socks, crumbs, and toys, somehow managing to maintain some sort of order within the chaos.

Ms Hendriksen’s husband also entertains the children with “nightly horsey rides, weekend swimming lessons, and stories before bed.” However, this is Scary Mommy, where progressive ladies bare their souls. And so, complications, and notes of sourness, must forever loom.  

I know that I am lucky to have him, he is a saint — but does he know how lucky he is? My husband… gets to leave the house… He ventures out into the world… taking in the fresh air, talking to someone other than me, and focusing on things that don’t involve our family. Sometimes he meets a friend for a socially distanced coffee. He often returns with a spring in his step, a spring that hasn’t been in my step for months. No wonder he has the energy to do the laundry... I resent that he can walk away, head downstairs, or off to work and take that vacation.

A vacation at work, that is - earning money to pay the bills. Not least, for detergent and fabric softener.

In contrast to which, Ms Hendriksen recounts her own housebound sorrows. We learn, for instance, that,  

Showers and personal hygiene are not daily occurrences, and when they do happen, it’s rushed and with at least one child at my feet. Some days I don’t brush my teeth at all.

After this detour into the bowel-wrenching miseries of “daytime sweatpants” and unbrushed teeth, and which in no way reflect on Ms Hendriksen and her organisational skills, we return to the issue at hand, i.e., the politics of laundry:

I don’t understand the need to fold the towels when we are late to get the kids in the bath; he doesn’t understand why getting into the bath a few minutes behind schedule is such a big deal, but having the towels folded and put away is essential.

High drama. The makings of a mini-series. And which, of course, brings us to the shortcomings of men:

What I’ve realised is that men are problem solvers. Have you ever unloaded an elaborate story of the ignorance of a friend or co-worker just to have your partner say, “Why don’t you just stop spending time with her?” He thinks that you’ve presented a problem, and he’s fixed it, why are you not patting him on the back? When in reality, all you wanted was for him to acknowledge that you were justified in feeling annoyed. So you can move on.

The unfeeling beast. Doesn’t he know that women want to spend time with people who irritate them, and who exasperate them, over and over again?

It is my choice to always be present with my children… But behind the scenes, he’s the one holding our household together… I know that I could not be the mother I want to be if he wasn’t the husband and father he is. But it is still hard not to hold it against him.

Because, once again, he goes to work. In the land of perpetual jolliness, where it’s all candyfloss and whistling.

Via Lady Cutekitten.