Sunday, January 15, 2006

Fantasy and Sci-Fi in the Home

I just had the most extraordinary conversation with my husband. He was puttering around the house, throwing clean clothes into the laundry basket, and generally getting underfoot. Then he started doing the dishes, so I knew he was really bored and looking for something to do. I suggested that he hang up the painting that he bought himself for Christmas, which has been sitting on his computer desk for nearly a month now.
"If you're looking for something to do," I told him.
He wanted to know why I thought he was looking for something to do. I pointed out that he must be since he was doing one of my jobs, not that I didn't appreciate it.
He then informed me that "doing the dishes and keeping the sink area clean" were his "responsibility." Had been for years.
After I stopped laughing, I reminded him about how we used to try to have that be his job, but I took it over -- with pretty much all housework -- when I went on maternity leave after having Nutmeg. Once I was in the house all day, I couldn't deal with five-foot-high stacks of dishes waiting for his once or twice a week attention. He claimed no memory of any such discussion.
Which is fine, who cares. What blows my mind is that he is under the impression that he does the dishes in our house most or all of the time. Which makes me feel so invisible. Like most couples, we do have what Arlie Hochschild calls a "leisure gap." When he's home, after the baby's asleep, you'll usually find him playing a game on his computer, on the internet, etc., whereas you'll usually find me with headphones on, doing housework. And that doesn't even bother me that much. Honest. He works long hours, he does a log more childcare than most fathers, so it's not that bad that I do 85% or more of the housework.
What hurts is to find out, all of the sudden, that he doesn't even know I'm doing it. By some bizarre twist of the imaginiation, he thinks that he's doing it.
This could also explain why he wasn't at all apologetic today while explaining to me his theory of tidying up the house: If he finds a piece of clothing anywhere except in a drawer or hung up, he throws it in the laundry.
"It's just easier," he told me with a perfectly straight face.
"Easier for you."
"Yeah."

1 comment:

Julia said...

This is so completely true for us as well! We had a similar "discussion" this week, and my wonderful fiance is convinced that we do the same amount of housework, which is pretty humorous...