At some point in my growing up years, the household chores got divided along gender lines.
My brothers did all things outside and trash related. I was in charge of the kitchen.
Although I do find immense satisfaction in a completely clean kitchen, and no one loads a dishwasher like I can, there were moments when I was 16 that I hated it. I wanted to be in charge of trash, something that happened every other day, but my brothers were no one’s fool.
When I came back home for my first college break, they gleefully stepped aside so I could resume my duties. I wanted to at least share them with whoever had been in charge of the dishes while I was gone, but nothing doing. “It’s your job” my brother said, patting me on the back, grabbing a soda and heading for the family room.
I made a vow that in my own family, things were going to be different. None of this genderized division of labor in my home!
I thought of this last night as Shea and I made our way through For Better And For Ever, a marriage preparation guide for engaged couples. We are training to join our parish’s sponsor program, so we need to go through the book ourselves to prepare to help others navigate the pretty tough topics and questions.
This is an interesting thing to do after ten years of marriage.
Somewhere, we have similar books from our Engaged Encounter weekend. I kept them because wouldn’t it be fun to look at them in the future and remember where we started?
Yeah, or scary.
Because we were so young. And idealistic. And we really had no idea what was going to happen next.
Take for instance the division of duties. I was determined we were going to share it all. No traditional 1950s housewife over here.
Shea does dishes. I do dishes. The rule generally is the person who didn’t cook cleans the kitchen. The truth is that he will offer to do the dishes when I am just too tired. And he did them every night of all three pregnancies. I keep the kitchen clean during the day because I’m home. It’s a pretty fair trade. We both like a clean kitchen.
But I do not take out the trash. Or pick up the poops. Or water the garden, pull weeds or mow.
I make sure that Gardener Cory shows up to mow, so that’s something.
I do laundry, pay bills, vacuum and yell at the kids until they dust. I make beds and clean bathrooms and grocery shop. I master the coupon apps. I shop for shoes and clothes and school supplies. I do doctor’s appointments and manage the family calendar. I take care of sick kids and sick dogs.
Shea brings home the bacon. This is a big deal. It’s what keeps me at home, running the Command Center.
I am very happy with this arrangement. Shea is very happy. But last night we realized that we have the very thing I was determined not to have—a fairly traditional marriage.
Why wasn’t I going to have it, again?
I can’t remember.
And there you have it.