Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Balance of Power

Back in my Senior year of high school, I took AP European History.That was when I was still kinda smart, and they let me take AP classes. (My, how I had them all fooled!). I recall learning about the Balance of Power, which we referred to as simply, BOP. If I recall correctly, in the context of AP European, the BOP basically referred to parity (big word, eh?) or stability between competing European nations.

Now, in my current life state, I am reminded of the BOP. No, no, I’m not trying to balance the power between my kids and me. Really, it’s between my husband and myself. And I’m not really sure that “power” is the right term. I think it’s more like, responsibility.

As a stay-at-home mom, I’d estimate that 99.9% of the daily responsibilities of the household fall on me. I’d probably actually say 100%, but the husband might read this and get offended, so let’s keep it at 99.9%. This balance is fair, right? I mean, he’s at work, making it possible for me to stay at home, and I’m just living the life of Riley, eating bon-bons and watching Oprah. At least that’s what I sometimes think the husband imagines I do all day. But, as any of us moms know, the day is full of cooking, shuttling, shopping (not the fun kind), cleaning, laundry, discipline, mediation, more cleaning, and then a little more laundry. Oh yeah, and I work from home, remember? So we have to fit that in. And wine. But that’s later.

It’s not that I don’t actually think the husband appreciates all that I do. He has said, “I don’t know how you put up with those kids all day.” (I think, however, that such statements are sometimes said with the hope of being rewarded, and not altogether sincere). The problem is that I find myself resentful of the fact that, despite the long hours he puts in at the office, I feel like I still work harder. And I don’t get paid, unless you count hugs (which is not all bad, but really, I do like cash). The thing is, though, when he does chip in more, I get annoyed.

For instance, last Sunday, we were heading to church. I mentioned on the way there that I wanted to clean our disgusting bathrooms at some point that day. His reply was, “I’ll do it.” Well, quite honestly, I wasn’t trying to get him to clean any bathrooms. What I wanted was for him to keep the kids out of my way so I could get it done in peace, and not have a 17-month-old throwing things in the toilet behind me. So, I said that was very sweet, but that I would get it done. And I meant that.

But then we got home from church, and he changed clothes and immediately started cleaning the bathroom. Very nice, no? Get this, though: he cleaned more thoroughly than I do. He got behind the toilet and scrubbed . He was on his hands and knees cleaning. And then he said something like, “This bathroom is just gross. It’s so dirty!.” Really? REALLY? I know that. But when do I have time to get on my hand and knees and clean? Huh? When? It’s easy to do a thorough job when the kids aren’t following you, ingesting bathroom cleaner. I don’t know. It just got under my skin. On the one hand, I totally appreciated that he wanted to help, but on the other hand, I kind of felt like he was saying he could do my job better than I can. And I felt defensive. I also felt like telling him we are hiring a maid, but I decided to wait on that one.

My point is that the poor guy was full of good intentions, and even though I act like it’s what I want, maybe I don’t really want him to help. At least not like that. What I want is for him to just pick up after himself, so that I don’t have to add that to my list of household chores. I want him to recognize that even though I’m not going to an office every day, that I work just as hard as he does, and my job take a break at the end of the day. Instead of cleaning the bathroom, I want him to see that after I’ve made dinner #2, tnd it’s 9pm, I don’t want to clean up the kitchen. I want him to do it. Maybe not every night. But once a week would be nice.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade my husband for anyone else. I adore him with all my heart. And he works really hard.I just want the balance of household responsibility to be a little more, well, balanced. And frankly, it’s hard to figure out how to make that happen without seeming like a nagging bitch. So, in all liklihood, things will continue as they are, and that will be fine. Eventually, our kids will eat dinner with us every night, and I’ll only be cooking one dinner. In the meantime, I think I’m going to find a wife for me. Or at least a maid.

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