>> Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Where do you draw The Line?
For me, it's putting the laundry away. And sewing on buttons. For one of my friends, it's tending to their swimming pool (give her a break, she lives in a very warm climate), and for another, it's stepping over used boxers on her way to the bathroom in the morning. For you, it could be picking up the change, receipts and crumpled tissues left on the hall table, putting the dirty coffee cups in the sitting room into the dishwasher, or moving the shoes littering the hall floor into the cloakroom.
What am I talking about?
I'm talking about the line that many of us draw in the sand where we say; that's It. That's the one thing I choose not to do for my husband/partner, because if I do that one thing - more than any other - I will know that once and for all I have given up the fight to treat you as a grown man, and have instead accepted that I have an extra child to care for.
It's insidious, isn't it? For many of us, it seems that one minute we are tripping along in a partnership of equals, where domestic tasks, whether they be household, financial, planning or child-care related are shared, and the next... Well, the next, we look at the minutae of our daily lives and realise that somewhere along the way something has gone wrong.
Somewhere along the line our generous offers to take up the slack when our partners seem particularly stressed, busy, or are simply too exhausted to function properly have become our expected roles. And without really registering it, we have become the constant care-giver, the person responsible for deciding what is to go on the table when, what the programme for the weekend might be, what colour the kitchen should be and - almost worst of all - the go-to person when a cursory man-look doesn't reveal the location of the remote control (where you left it, darling), the matches (by the candle-stick, sweetheart), or the napkin drawer (where it's been since we moved into this house 12 years ago, dear).
This, by the way, is not something peculiar to either stay at home or working mums. I see it happening everywhere, whether the mum is home full time, whether she works part-time,or whether her more than full-time outside the home job is far more demanding and exhausting than her husband's.
I'm surrounded, both here in Moscow and back in the UK, by bright, sensational, ambitious women who assumed when they settled down with the grown-up man of their choice that he would remain that way - a grown up - and who, swept up in the day to day havoc of family life turn around one day to be blindsided by the realisation that this is not the case.
And I don't know what the answer is.
I only know it makes me mad as hell.
So I will continue to leave my husband's clean laundry in a heap at the foot of our bed, boxers unfolded, socks not sorted, and shirts not hung up, in a gesture that feels childish and not at all graceful, but which helps me to maintain my sanity. Because that is where I have chosen to draw my Line.
Note: This is a post that is less a reflection of my home life than what I see going on around me. And the anger may possibly be because I'm partway through an excellent book called 'The Price of Motherhood' recommended by Noble Savage and am feeling particularly sensitive to such issues, or simply because it's rained cats and dogs all day today... Whatever the reason though, surely this is still not an acceptable state of affairs?