i don’t want to do the fucking dishes (equality in relationships)

The Beard and I have made a deal.  I can hardly believe my luck.

I am in charge of the laundry.  I wash it all, I dry it all, and I put it all (excepting the Beard’s clothes) away.  In exchange, he does all of the dishes.

I haven’t washed a dish in 16 months.

Once you (you being, in this case, a member of a hetero man/lady couple) have a child it is so easy to slip into traditional gender roles.  Duder goes to work, lady stays home mothering.  Fuck that.  Our jobs—both being incredibly flexible—have kept us out of that trap from the beginning.  These days I work two days a week while the Beard is at home with Pickles, and he works 24- and 48-hour shifts several times a month while I stay home with Pickles.  I feel really lucky to have figured out a job/home situation that works so well for us.

And.  Have you ever heard this story? Duder is at work all day and is SO ANNOYED at how his wifey is always telling him about this boring and gross baby stuff (and side note: how come this is always a hetero story?  how come I never read this story in the context of a same-sex couple?  Are they way better at equality or are they just not getting media time?).  I read about this situation sometimes on the internets, and I worried that it would become my story.  I even sometimes felt like we were already there when I was pregnant and just wanted to talk babybabybabybaby, and the Beard didn’t seem particularly interested.

Well.  Besides the fact that actually meeting Pickles has made him incredibly interested in all of it, there is now the fact that we both spend an equal amount of time parenting her alone.  Which means that questions of sleep and poop and meals and teething and every teeny tiny developmental milestones are equally interesting to both of us.

Maybe that duder who is bored hearing about his kids doesn’t even really exist (I mean how could you not find your own personal genetic experiment totally fascinating?  I can’t imagine it).  But even so, I am happy to not be married to one of them, and I think that splitting child care in this way contributes to the fact.

But the dishes.  Household chores were getting stupid around here.  They were getting done, but there was only one of us doing them.  And that person was the Beard.  (I still revel in the fact that this happening was even possible.  At least gender roles in hetero relationships have come that far.)  At first it was because I could barely even walk after the c-section.  Then it was because Baby Pickles spent most of her waking hours nursing, and most of her sleeping hours on top of me.  (She was one of those babies who you could never put down.  It woke her up immediately.  This never really bothered me, but damn.  It doesn’t leave you with a lot of time to do housework.  Or anything at all.  Besides reading.  Good thing I’m into that.)

Eventually it just became habit as Pickles has become more and more independent, and the Beard and I were slowly able to start dividing up the child care responsibilities more evenly.  But we didn’t renegotiate the rest of the household chores until about a month ago, when after spending a couple of weeks feeling guiltly about all the things he was doing that were making my life easier, I suggested the deal.  He was into it.  He doesn’t like doing laundry.  I do.  (Sort of.)

I still can’t believe my luck.

Did the balance between you and your partner change after having a child?

0 Comments on “i don’t want to do the fucking dishes (equality in relationships)

  1. That’s a great deal! Did you ever read The Women’s Room by Marilyn French? It’s kind of an uneven novel overall, but it has parts I like, including a rant about how academic feminism is all well and good but in the end it always comes down to the damned dishes.

    My man and I began seriously considering living together after a series of conversations about our dream home and also one about which housework each of us doesn’t mind doing vs. hates doing–we found that we like the same type of home and that our chore preferences are very compatible. For example, I don’t mind washing dishes but think drying them with a towel is a stupid waste of time, while he hates sloshing his hands in water that’s getting dirtier by the minute but doesn’t mind drying dishes. So for years, I washed while he dried, and that was our “meeting” time when we discussed our schedule and any problems. That ended when we moved to our current home (2 years before baby) only because the kitchen is arranged such that there’s no place to stand and dry dishes while someone’s washing. So now we have a dishwasher, which we all load gradually, and I wash the stuff that can’t go in the dishwasher and put it to drip dry, and the dishes get put away by whoever gets around to it first.

    We renegotiate some of the other chores every few years, but the basic change when we had a child was that there were 3 new chores: laundering his clothes, laundering diapers, and washing the bottles for my milk that he drank at childcare. Because I was working part-time while Daniel was full-time, I did the diapers and bottles while he did the clothes. Later, when baby was eating solids, Daniel took charge of his lunch for childcare, and that has continued–he now packs his school lunch. The diapers and bottles ended, of course, and we’ve swapped around who does the kid’s laundry and also the household laundry like sheets and napkins. Daniel and I each launder our own clothes because we’re particular about how it’s done.

    I’m really glad that he takes out the trash and mops floors, and he’s really glad that I clean the bathroom fixtures. We’ve never swapped on those jobs except when one of us is away.

  2. We don’t have a particularly formal division of household labor right now, but when I was pregnant and in the new baby breastfeeding all the time phase Tom pretty much did all the housework.

    In general he does a lot more of the physical stuff (taking out trash, cleaning the kitchen, sweeping/vacuuming etc.) anyway. Though I probably clean bathrooms more often. Laundry’s more or less an even split. I do a lot more planning/money-related things (taxes, paying bills), but Tom’s 100% in charge of daycare (researching it, interviewing people, pickup and dropoff). And he changes pretty much all the diapers. We have near-constant home improvement projects going on, so we’re both usually working on those as well.

    This is working for us. We’ve specialized on some thing either to make up for structural inequality (e.g. I do baby input, he does baby output) or because one of us just cares more/is a lot better at it (I do paperwork and finances because my brain works that way and his doesn’t).

    At this point (9 month old baby) our discussions about equality center a lot more on who gets to sleep when than anything else. As the breastfeeding starts to taper off we’re trying to get to a more equitable division of night parenting. The housework happens, or doesn’t, but it hasn’t been a big deal in comparison to that.

  3. In our household, as I guess you know, I do pretty much everything. Hedgehog does the laundry and that’s it. Occasionally he cooks but rarely. But that’s the nature of being a carer… he does what he can. He still does any repairs or putting up shelves, that sort of thing. I’m hopeless at that stuff. I’m usually waiting a while but he does do it. Ha ha. And I do virtually all the child care. *sigh* It’s not easy and sometimes I can’t help but feel resentful. But I guess I knew this is what I was signing up for.

  4. I actually am in a relationship with fairly traditional gender roles, but it’s not all bad. My boyfriend makes good money, but he works a lot, and travels for his job quite a bit. I have more time and flexibility than he does, which leaves most of the cleaning to me. But I don’t mind. I don’t love house work, but I do love being able to stay home, focus on my art, cook healthy meals, go for long walks with our dogs, and now that we own some land I’ll be raising more of our food. I don’t feel like my role in our family isn’t valued, although in society in general ther is a definite lack of appreciation for what was once considered “women’s work.”

  5. I just wanted to thank you all for your comments because I really enjoyed reading them. So much so that I am going to respond with further thoughts in another post on this subject. Yey!

  6. Pingback: collective living (and equality in relationships) | click clack gorilla

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