I like to complain about housework. Ever since quitting full-time work, I had to give up the luxury of a cleaning service. I couldn’t justify it. But I think I still have the right to complain about having to do it.
A story in this weekend’s Globe & Mail talked about how – despite all the inroads women have made in the workplace and how much more men have taken on in the domestic front – women still perform most of the unpaid glory duty. And not only do they still do more of it, they also still do the worst of it. Yes, I just had my arms down several toilet bowls this past week.
But ladies, let’s face it: we complain when we have to do it, but if we didn’t do it, HE isn’t going to do it (or he isn’t going to do it “right”), and then we’ll still complain. What I’m saying is: it’s our own damn fault. We can’t tolerate filth, while men can not only tolerate it, but they don’t even notice it – that is why nothing will ever get cleaned if the job is left to men. But our worst fault, girlfriends? We judge each other based on how clean our homes are. And it’s the pressure of that judgment that pushes us to the brink, as the writer Erin Anderssen so clearly summarizes in said article:
It’s a lose-lose scenario: If women were to let go of their apparent predisposition to fuss more about dirt, they would risk failing to live up to the image of the good wife and mother who both climbs the career ladder and keeps house.
The article also advocates for changes in social policy as being the only veritable solution to this gender gap: better subsidized daycare and family-friendly workplaces that perhaps provide perks like cleaning services. However, herein lies a(nother) fundamental character flaw in many women (myself included): we’re control freaks. Nobody can clean the house the way we would and only we can do it right. That’s exactly the reason why we criticize our partners when they make an attempt, and that’s how we feel about cleaning services. When we were using a cleaning service, I had to prepare for them to come in by removing everything off counters and dressers to ensure that surface areas would be fully cleaned. Frankly, if I was going to do that prep work anyway, I might as well just do the cleaning, right? Right. So I do it. And then I complain about it.
Housework will probably be the death of me, not heart disease or cancer. I love to whine about it, yet I refuse to let it go. I am indeed conflicted.