Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Divide and Conquer

Time recently did an article on calling a truce on the Chore War. Blue Milk did a piece analyzing whether or not the Time article had a point. A particular paragraph in Blue Milks' post had me contemplating where Chris and I diverge in our share of household responsibilities:
Are men and women equally sharing the work of organising all this stuff? The work of organising often doesn’t get counted in these surveys because a lot of it goes on inside someone’s head, but it’s bloody taxing work. Walking someone through all the steps in preparing a meal, making sure you haven’t run out of laundry powder for when it’s their turn to do the laundry, writing the shopping list for them and describing where on the aisles they will find the items they need to buy.. all draining work.
I am the organizer. I pay all the bills, I keep track of our bank accounts, our cell phones, our bill disputes, our money, our insurance, our retirement funds, Eliot's Dr's appointments. I'm the researcher. If we're making a big purchase I research what we're buying. I make sure Eliot's clothes are switched over when they're getting too small, that he has all the snacks he'll need in the cupboards for the next week, that his diaper stash hasn't been depleted. I do the grocery shopping 80% of the time. According to the Time article I'm considered a part time working mom though because I'm scheduled at 32 hours a week. I do most of the grocery shopping because I have Mondays off and Monday mid-mornings are a damn nice time to grocery shop. I bring Eliot to his Dr appointments because why should we take more time off to bring him to the Dr when I can knock that off the list on a Monday. Because I work though, our Mondays are also very special. I don't want every Monday to be me just trying to get housework done and errands run and dinner on the table. So they aren't. I don't make dinner most Mondays, I usually get one thing done (like laundry folded or the dishes put away) but most Mondays the house is more of a mess than we started. And that's ok.

But Chris, he's always willing to let me leave the house when I need a break. I take more breaks than he does. He takes care of the hardware of the house (wiring electronics, anything that can be fixed with his hands), I'm better at software (navigating the TV menus, setting up the wireless modem). I don't touch the garage, I only keep my bike in there. He takes care of my bike, the cars, the yard, 80% of the cooking, putting Eliot to bed. Eliot's night time care used to fall mostly on my shoulders with breastfeeding, and I would say I'm still up with him more than Chris is, but it's better every month.

Most other things are near equal. In some ways he's neater than I am. Laundry is probably 50-50. I clean the kitchen and bathroom more often, he does the dishes more often (yes, and he does most of the cooking). He won't clean the floors unless I start cleaning them, but then he'll do half. Speaking of floors, this aggravates the living daylights out of me, we went 3 weeks before our floors got mopped this last weekend because I was experimenting with waiting for him to clean the floors and then I just got too disgusted to wait any longer.

Mostly I feel like we strike a good balance, but I would like to hand some more of the organizational items back to him. I don't think this is a men vs. women thing in our relationship, I think it's a me letting go thing. I like to know that Eliot's clothes are organized and the right sizes, that I'll be able to grab a diaper out of the drawer without thinking about it, that all the bills are paid, that we're buying the very best TV at the very best price. I trust him though, I can even sleep while he's driving sometimes, and it doesn't all need to be knocking around in my head all the time. You know what means more than an exact division of chores? The fact that Chris is concerned about it being even as well, that he'll take on something on my "list" if asked or even if the need is sensed (except for the floors, obviously), and I'll take on things from his. It more than makes up for some perfect division of labor. We each do what we're good at, and help the other out if it's too much.

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