This past week, my sister and her main squeeze, John Michael were visiting. We had a rootin’ tootin’ good time. They came into town to go down to Times Square for the ball drop, but they had some problems getting there and ended up coming home before midnight. While that was a bummer, the rest of the week really made up for it. We layed around and watched football, ate, went to Mystic, CT, ate, rode a horse carriage through Central Park, ate, went up in the Empire State Building, ate, and then we ate some more. It was pretty delightful.
But as with all company, its great to see them come and its great to see them go (sorry, Gin) and so I spent today de-hostessing my house. Laundry, putting away Christmas decorations, wrestling socks from my dogs… And as I’m doing this, Chris is making an effort to help. Sort of.
Now normally, I try not to generalize about gender stereotypes. Chris is a unique individual and is shortcomings unique characteristics are all his own. But when it comes to cleaning, I have found several traits that most men share. Not all. But most.
For example, when I clean I clean the entire house. Whether the junk belongs to Chris, me, or the dogs, I put it away. I’m not a great deep cleaner, but I can straighten up a room pretty quick and its because I don’t distinguish between whose belongings are whose. Chris, however, will only clean up his things. I asked him today if he could straighten the living room while I cleaned the kitchen, downstairs bath, and living room. Seems to be a fair trade, am I right? But when I went into the dining room (which is the catch-all room in our house), he had put away only half of the stuff laying in there. My stuff was all in a nice little pile on the dining room table. What’s with that?
And laundry is no different. In our house, we don’t really split chores in half or have assigned jobs (mostly because I’m pretty lazy and if Chris waited for me half the time, we’d be living in filth with no socks). But laundry has traditionally been something I do most of the time. And I really don’t mind because Chris is pretty darn good about helping out around the house, so if he doesn’t like that one task, I don’t mind taking it over. But when he does do the laundry, he will wash everything but he only puts away his. He leaves my clothes in piles downstairs. Now, its not that tricky to figure out my closet arrangement…especially when we’ve been married for almost 4 YEARS NOW. Why can’t he just put my clothes away when he puts his away? I put his away when I do it, so what’s the hold up on my clothes?
Another thing that drives me crazy about cleaning with Chris isn’t something that I’m aware is a trait of “man”-kind. I think this next one is a Chris thing. He re-cleans after me. I will go through an entire room of deep cleaning (you know, with supplies and stuff) and I’ll hear him in there like an hour later re-cleaning something. It. Drives. Me. Crazy. That room hasn’t been touched with a dust cloth or vaccuum in 3 weeks, and when I finally take the initiative to do it, he has the audacity to come behind me and “fix it?” Drives. Me. Crazy. He never actually comes out and criticizes my cleaning (he’s still breathing, isn’t he?), but I think re-cleaning is almost just as bad as saying that outloud. Clearly, he thinks he could do a better job. And, clearly, something must have physically prevented him from doing that better job in the THREE WEEKS that the dust sat there accumulating. But let me pick up the dust cloth and, suddenly, he’s all about the cleaning. Er, re-cleaning.
I guess I should be thankful. Lots of wives have husbands who don’t help at all. And in the grand scheme of things, Chris takes care of more than his fair share of things around the house. And he kills spiders for me which gets you many gold stars in my book. Its not so much that I am judgmental of his household strategies, its that they baffle me. I’m confused. I just don’t understand them.
Then again, my weird habits include painting my dog’s toenails and paying extra for scented trashbags, so who am I to judge?