Sunday, May 20, 2007

Renegotiating Household Labor

Within the next few weeks I’m going to be working about 40-50 hours per week through the summer. So my husband and I have to figure out who's going to do what from now on, since for the past six years he’s been going to work and I’ve been doing everything else. (Well – not exactly I guess – he’s good and helps with the kids, unloads the dishwasher now and then and takes out the garbage occasionally too.) But my husband is not really interested in the politics of household labor division. When I brought it up, he brushed me off saying, “Just make me a list of what you want me to get done and I’ll do it.”
See, I’m not kidding – he really is good.
So guess what’s on my list so far.

Jiffy Lube. I will never ever ever (as long as we are married and he's able to drive) take one of our cars to Jiffy Lube again. I never really understood how that chore fell to me in the first place. Well, I sort of do – it’s because I've had more free time than my husband. Actually it wasn't so much “free time” as it was “flexible time.” I've had a lot of things to do, but the only pressing thing I had to tend to during the day was poopy butt wiping. Poopy butt wiping is of an urgent nature… everything else at home can more or less get done when it gets done.

But every time I've ever been to Jiffy Lube there's been an unhappy ending. And I'm not alone. There are always several other women there with me -- all of them mildly stressed, listing the things their husbands have said they are and are not allowed to have done there. And then I come home and my husband will say, “Jesus Christ! You paid them a hundred and twenty dollars to do THAT?! I could have done that in two seconds! Would have cost me 59 cents! Why would you let them do that?!”

So the next time I say, "Why don't you just take the car to Jiffy Lube this time?"
And he says, "No, no --you can do it, just don’t let them do anything -- just change the oil. That's it.” So I go and they tell me all the things that should be fixed. Following instructions, I tell them not to do anything but change the oil, and leave a note for my husband about what they said needed to be done. And when he reads it, he says, “so you didn’t have them fix it because of what I said?”

“Um -- well, yeah," I shrug.

And he rolls his eyes saying he assumed it went without saying that I would have them go ahead and do THAT! I mean Good God, do I not know how long it would take him to do that?!

And like how should I know – I don’t even know what the F they’re talking about when I’m there. Well – maybe that’s not completely true. When I was in high school my stepfather made me learn how to change the oil in the car. “If you’re going to own a car, you need to understand how it works, Staci Leigh,” he'd said, shaking his head at me in disgust for my lack of interest.

“No I really don’t,” I said, "Isn't that why there are mechanics? Gas stations? Triple AAA? Jiffy Lube? Plus I have you, right? And someday I'll probably have a husband or a boyfriend who will do it..."

“Look,” he said, “your mother and I bought you this car, do you want it or not?”

“Of course,” I said.

“Well then get your butt out to the garage and let me show you how it works.”

So it’s not that I’m entirely ignorant of how the car operates – I’m just entirely disinterested, that's all.

But aside from Jiffy Lube, I can't decide what to give up -- I'm a bit of a control freak about food shopping and cooking. Which is just as well I guess, given a recent discussion we had here on a Saturday afternoon. My husband asked, "what do we need to get done before it’s cocktail hour?"
And I said, "we only have two things left to do, we need to make the spaghetti sauce and we need to swim six hundred miles through a river of sewage and hot lava at the end of which will be a never-ending Barney marathon -- which do you want to do?"

He said he’d prefer I make the sauce.

So now I'm thinking I'll try to give him bathroom cleaning duty -- is that too mean?


landismom said...

Loved your Jiffy Lube description. Fortunately, my dh is not mechanically inclined, so we don't get into that argument. Just poorer.

Anjali said...

Here's what I'd have my husband do:
Write up the list of tasks himself.

Getting your husband to truly understand what all a mother does for the family? PRICELESS!

Best of luck with the increased hours-- which I think are a very good sign that you are doing a great job at your new job.

Anonymous said...

Hi! My name is Charlotte and you mom-in-law turned me onto your blog today. The Jiffy Lube thing is sooooo true! Hallelujah, sister!

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cce said...

I don't know if you want to relinquish bathroom conrol. If your hubs is anything like mine, his idea of clean is rather flexible and flexible cleanliness in the bathroom is NOT a good thing.
Good luck with the list.

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Mary Tsao said...

Wait. Re: The Jiffy Lube "discussion." Are we married to the same man?


Daisy said...

Go for it! The bathroom floor it is.

Deanna said...

Found you on bloggin' chicks! Too Too funny! I hate the Jiffy Lube thing here, too! Except here, if I want them to pay attention to me at all I have to don a southern accent and ask forgiveness for even showing up without a man on my arm! Great post! Looking forward to poppin' in on you again!