There has been something bothering me lately. It’s the distribution of household chores or lack there of. To start, you need to know I live in a tiny, old, farmhouse that lacks a bathroom, no I’m kidding. We do not have to use an outhouse. In fact, the bathroom I renovated shortly after moving in, however there is only one. The essential household appliance that I’ve done without these past years is a dishwasher. There is simply no room for one after adding the washer and the dryer to the kitchen.
I like to cook. I create new meals often and have a lot of favorites everyone enjoys. Cooking can be time consuming. Usually, I spend an hour standing in the kitchen preparing a meal, sometimes longer. It bothers me if I have to wash a sink full of dishes before I start cooking but what bothers me even more is that after dinner it is my partner’s chore to do the dishes and he has stopped washing dishes in the evening. He’ll leave them till the next morning. If I wake up first I sometimes do them, but know I’m not happy about it. Then lately, I’ve begun to wonder ‘does he think if he leaves them long enough he won’t have to do them?’ If I don’t wash them they will stay piled there until it is almost noon the next day before he does the dishes. He knows I won’t make breakfast or another meal till those damn dinner dishes are done. I don’t like going to sleep with a sink full of dishes but worse than that is waking to find them still there.
I do a lot of cleaning up as I go along when there’s time between the prep work, so if the dishes don’t get done it won’t be tons and I leave the pans on the stove soaking, so if I end up doing them it won’t be too bad.
I remember this picture book I read when I was a kid, “The Man Who Didn’t Wash the Dishes” I tried to find it to purchase it again some years ago but it must be out of print. This man in the story used all the dishes in the house, the decorative bowls, and even the ashtrays if I recall correctly. The dirty dishes laid everywhere. They were on the table, dressers, in the sink, and even in the tub. Then one day, he pulling all the dirty dishes, bowls, and ashtrays in wagons out into the yard to clean them in the rain.
I thought it was a cute story, but it haunts me, especially if the man is piling the dishes up for me to wash them. Actually it hurts my back to lean over the sink any longer than twelve minutes at a time. More things got done around here when we were both working full time jobs. Now we’re both home, unemployed and he expects me to do everything while he lays on the couch napping on and off throughout the day.
Our meals are rarely eaten in the kitchen anymore. My partner likes to eat in the living room in front of the TV, on the couch he can’t seem to get off of. I resisted eating in the living room the first year or so we were together, before giving in. I think mealtime is an event in itself and dinner conversation is nice. I feel coming into sit at the table is a sign of gratitude as is washing the dishes after the meal.
I’ve tried to speak with my partner about this last week and he wouldn’t engage in the conversation. In fact: he walked out. I said nothing more about it. But the words “I’m hungry” began to make my skin crawl and my stomach knot. Instead of “I’m hungry” prompting images of food in my mind, now, I only seeing dishes or is that fire?
Last night, after washing the breakfast dishes, I started preparing dinner, I was busy writing all day. Then with the chicken cubed and marinating in a blend of freshly squeezed orange juice, soy sauce, freshly ground ginger, chopped scallions, and spices, I left the kitchen, came into the living room, and calmly said “When you don’t wash the dishes after dinner it makes me not want to cook dinner for you.”
“I’ll wash the dishes after dinner.” He said.
And I responded “Thank you” walking back into the kitchen.
The furnace broke down last night. This morning there was no hot water. We were sitting in the living room by the fire drinking our coffee and I said “Boy I’m glad you washed the dishes last night.”
“Yeah.” He chuckled, knowing I would have been wild!
What’s bothering you? Does your man squirm his way out of his chores? Leave your comments.