Once on our way there, driving south on Alewife Brook Parkway, we noticed people hanging out on the median and in the parking lot of the business next door. And they were definitely hanging out.
Some wielded pastels and heavy stock art paper fastened to easels. Others had tripods and cameras equipped with telephoto lenses. All had eyes on a family of red-tailed hawks—two adults and two chicks—in a nest atop a nearby building’s raised signage.
The awe and wonder with which the bird watchers gazed upon these hawks, the sense that what they were witnessing was rare and fleeting: There was a time when Ryan looked at me like this. It was the day he found me hand washing utensils.
So struck was he by this vision that he took a picture (see above). What a miracle of nature!
Actually, it was more like a freak accident. His instinct to capture this moment while he could was right. Unlike those little chicks, I was not about to embark on a new journey. This wasn’t the beginning of a life in which I cleaned all of the dishes, including knives, spoons and forks. I honestly don’t remember what compelled to do so that day in 2006, but I know I haven’t felt like doing it since.
Generally, I hate cleaning but will suck it up and do my part when I have to (read: houseguests). Then there are the tasks, like hand washing utensils, which I refuse to do. Although “refuse” may be too strong a word. It’s more like I have a mental block against them.
I will clean an entire sink full of dishes—sticky cookie sheets, caked-on pans, fragile-pain-in-the-ass wine glasses—and then right when all that’s left is a pile of silverware, I’ll lose my steam. I’ll groan. I’ll turn off the water and go sit on the couch. I’m suddenly incapable of entering the kitchen.
The same thing happens to me when I see an overflowing trash bin.
I understand that by not doing these chores, I’m making Ryan do them. And there’s no reason why I should think that he deplores them any less than I do. We don’t have a dishwasher, so hand washing utensils is a big deal. Still: I–just–can’t–do–it.
That’s why I was shocked to learn that a large percentage of married women are uncomfortable delegating household chores to their spouses. In a survey conducted by Real Simple and the Families and Work Institute, one in three women said they feel this way. What’s more, the survey of 3,230 American women, ages 25 to 54, revealed that 52 percent of women have less than 90 minutes of free time a day. And the unwanted task that eats up their free time the most? CLEANING. So why the heck aren’t these women asking their husbands for help?
I suspect some would answer that their guys suffer from the same “mental blocks” I do, in which case, why bother? But the main reason respondents gave for not sharing their workload is that their husbands wouldn’t do the chores the way they wanted them done.
Reading that I felt like I was reading about a different planet. A world where I refuse to let Ryan scrub the toilet because I think I’ll do it better? There’s a greater chance of me curling up in that nest with those hawks.
Now even though I’m downright lazy about certain tasks, I’ll go the extra mile for others. For instance, just this past weekend, I cleaned the vacuum filter with not just water and paper towels, as Ryan suggested, but also a chopstick, which I used to dig out the grime in its crevices. I cleaned the shit out of that filter. Does that mean from now on I’ll never allow Ryan to clean it? Absolutely not.
We share chores, and frankly, I can’t imagine it working any other way.
Rasika writes about being married and how that makes you act weird. Oh, wait, maybe that’s just her. Follow her on Twitter @rwelankiwar.
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