cleaning fairy, wherefore art thou?

I almost posted a long, self-congratulatory stream of consciousness last month when we finally decided on a division of labor that seemed not just fair but feasible. Ha, I almost said, we are the embodiment of modern domestic bliss. See how we share responsibility? See how we do not nag? You wish you were us right now. It’s okay to admit it.

What is this magical prescription for housework-related joy, you ask? It went like this:

I would take care of the day-to-day household chores (dishes, laundry, etc.) while Not So would take care of the weekly chores (vacuuming, changing the cat litter, garbage & recycling, bathrooms). Since mine were everyday tasks, I had fewer of them, while his would take up, at most, one weekend afternoon – which meant he could chill after work on weekdays, instead of worrying about housework. See? Fair! Feasible, even!

Week One went swimmingly. Had there been a mountaintop from which I could shout my joy and relief, people would have heard me and thought to themselves Now THERE’S a woman with an equitable division of labor.

Week Two and Week Three went…not quite as swimmingly, but to be fair, we had guests and they threw off our routine. Plus, heat wave! No one can be expected to clean during a heat wave. I skipped the laundry/dishes combo a couple of times, but since I’m home all the time it’s easy for me to make up for it. Not So, who is at work all week, does not have as many options. Also, it became clear (to me, anyway) that several of Not So’s tasks would need to be biweekly instead of once a week. For example, cat litter. And the downstairs rug, with a newly mobile baby crawling all over it, needed somewhat more vacuuming than originally anticipated. But hey, that’s okay, right? We roll with the punches around here.

This week I managed to not only jack my shoulder but also be visited by emotional trauma my mother, so I was somewhat more useless than usual. Not So helped me out by putting a load of laundry in the wash. Also, the garbage & recycling were dealt with, the downstairs rug was vacuumed, and the cat litter was changed. Yay, Not So, right?

Except that the floors hadn’t been swept, the upstairs hadn’t been vacuumed, it’s been two weeks since the bathrooms have been cleaned and the stove – I don’t even want to talk about the stove. Which, hey. He was worn out this weekend. I was too. I understand. But there was a bowl of cereal on the floor. Why was there a bowl of cereal on the floor? Why, after your son spilled an entire glass of water, which had also been left on the floor, would you then leave a bowl of cereal in almost exactly the same place?

I am having to stop myself from making always/never rules and posting them, dorm-like, on the fridge. ALWAYS throw onion rinds and suchlike into the garbage, instead of leaving them at the bottom of the sink for your wife to find. NEVER leave bowls of cereal and/or piles of easily swallowable coins within easy reach of small child, who will totally go for it. Because do I want to be that kind of wife? No I do not.

I got everything done this morning. Coupled with two days of dishes and laundry (and an extremely dirty baby who really, really needed a bath) I feel pretty productive. (And sore.) So once again we’re going to have to revisit the whole housework/division of labor thing. I for one am hanging my hopes on the kid. In just a few more months he should be able to take care of all this for us, right?

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