by Linda Sharps
Every now and then I have to address it: the elephant in the room. I don't mean the metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that's being ignored or going unaddressed, I mean the thing in our bedroom that practically IS the size of an elephant. It lurks enormously on the top of our chest of drawers and in the last day or two its height has sent it sagging against the wall. Underwear on top, jeans on the bottom, everything washed and dried and folded, my husband's stack of clean laundry seems to be on a mission to reach the ceiling. The cat sniffs it, then backs away nervously as the pile trembles like a precarious Jenga tower.
"Could you maybe deal with the … you know, clothes situation tonight?" I say. He grunts reluctantly: he SO does not want to deal with the clothes situation. He'd be much happier if I would take that one teeny tiny little extra step and put the clothes away for him.
I won't, though. Because everyone has their limits, and this is mine.
Refusing to put away my husband's laundry may seem like an arbitrary boundary, given the fact that I'm generally the person responsible for cleaning the house, washing the dishes, buying the groceries, preparing the meals, managing the daytime kid-wrangling, and other assorted housewifely duties. What's the point of balking over one specific chore, particularly considering it's not nearly as maddening as, say, picking up grimy socks all day long?
It's not because I want to be a dick about things or draw some completely random line in the sand for the sake of having exactly one tiny WAHM rebellion. It's just … I don't know, really. Maybe it's that I really dislike putting away clothes and I already have to do this chore for two humans other than myself. Maybe it's that I'm a little curious to see just how tall he'll let that stack get before he hangs up his shirts. Maybe it's that I feel overwhelmed with cyclical to-do items and by the time I've finished folding the clean laundry I mostly feel like this:
It sounds petty, I know. I am the one who's home during the day, after all. It certainly wouldn't be the world's most difficult job for me to simply hang my husband's clothes up for him so he doesn't have to do it when he comes home from a long day at work.
When I really think about it, I guess refusing to put away clothes is the one task that I can simply opt out of without causing negative consequences for myself. I could stop vacuuming, but eventually I'd be wading through a waist-high biohazard zone that my husband and kids wouldn't even notice. I could stop putting the dishes in the dishwasher, but they'd pile up in the sink and attract a massive swarm of fruitflies. I could stop picking up socks, but they would slowly cover every single surface of the house until A&E sent out a camera crew to film Hoarders: Buried Alive in Hanes Footwear.
It's my way of saying that I work long days too and I need to feel like people are helping out even a little with the Sisyphean amounts of housework or I will lose my ever-loving mind. It's a small act that briefly unburdens me from the smothering sensation of Being In Charge of All the Boring Crap: Here, I've taken care of 90% of the work, but you're responsible for the rest.
Or maybe it's a ridiculous passive-aggressive behavior that contributes nothing to our family dynamic except annoyance. You could probably convince me either way.
Do you have any household chores that you refuse to do for other people?