Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I recently had a very good friend who was going through a tough time in her marriage. We have talked on numerous occasions and the one thing which kept popping up in my head was hearing her say she does this or she does that and her husband never acknowledges anything. Her worth is ignored. He is the primary breadwinner but when she sells a book I am sure the roles will be reversed. She stays home with the kids, keeps house, cooks and cleans, pays the bills…manages everything while he simply works at one job. In all her free time (this is sarcasm) she tries to write.

Not to sound like a Na’vi but “I SEE YOU.” And I see me – I see all of us making the same mistake.

Society has placed a role on us to keep the home, to nurture the children and be the lover – multiple roles. Economics, however, has forced many of us out into the workplace. Even those of us (and I am one) who have the luxury of staying home still have many more jobs than just one. Women work more than their husbands – a simple truth. That’s fine; we are the smarter of the species and can handle it (no sarcasm intended). But what I see, and have been guilty of myself, is that we devalue our worth. We matter but no one seems to notice. The jobs keep piling up and we go about doing them without complaint to keep the peace. It’s easier to just do it than nag constantly for help. Eventually we become Edith Bunker nervously serving Archie in his ratty recliner (Not a very pretty picture is it?). Every one else’s needs (children, friends and husbands) must be satisfied to the exclusion of everything else. At the end of the day we have nothing left for ourselves or of ourselves.

Well ladies, it’s time we took back our lives. My friend, who is a very industrious person, started listing everything she does in a day (which was mind boggling) and I had an idea. I told her to keep a running diary for one week – writing down everything she does. Chauffeuring the kids (hired driver), cooking (chef), shopping (personal assistant), cleaning (maid), paying the bills (accountant), washing the clothes (laundress) – whatever. Then assign a dollar value to her jobs and add it up (okay if hubby unloads the dishwasher give him an hour of menial labor at minimum wage). Make two columns with a his and a hers. I would be more than willing to bet that my friend, if she were paid for all these jobs, would make more than her hubby in a week. I told her to show it to him and point out the inequity. We do so much that no one values us. Perhaps if he sees it in black and white, he will begin to see that what she does has a monetary value (my point is not really the money but to wake him up to what she does day in and day out).

I know, I hear you. If I don’t do the job, no one else will. So? Life does not end if the furniture does not get dusted or he has to eat a ham sandwich instead of a five-course, home-cooked meal. Live a little – that dustbunny will still be lurking under the bed after you’ve given yourself some time off. And, if he mentions that little bunny, hand him a vacuum… As women, we want peace in our homes and we try to make it a reality. Well, reality has a way of reaching up and biting you in the posterior. Eventually, if you do not assign a value to yourself, others will not see you.

The Holidays are approaching and with them come attendant additional chores. Do not lose sight of yourself. Your needs, your wants, your desires are important. You are entitled. You are a person with value and everyone should appreciate that. I SEE YOU!


  1. Wow.

    About eight years ago, I quit the day job, fired the cleaning service, and stopped eating out half the time. We decided, for us, we needed someone to bring home the bacon and someone to keep the home fires burning.

    His package of bacon was about five times the size of mine. It was no sacrifice. I was tired of most of the people I worked with. There was constant bickering and negativity and, though I didn't participate, I'd had enough.

    I've got it lucky. The Guy appreciates me and does not expect me to clean up after him. But I've been in a (temporary) situation lately where I am constantly cleaning up after someone who seems to have no appreciation.

    I can promise you, heads would roll if this was permanent.

  2. Cheryl, this resonates with every woman all over the world. I was a stay-at-home Mom until my youngest went off to college. Women are taught early on not to put value upon the everyday tasks and jobs they're expected to do. Why? Because women have always had the babies, raised them, and cared for the home. It's expected that the husband will go to work every day and bring home the bacon, as Jean said. Pressed upon, with an unending schedule, a woman soon comes to believe that her life is the center of a sphere and everyone and everything else revolves around her, depends upon her, and if she doesn't keep the cords tied to hold it all together, it all will fall apart.

    Reversing that theory. If the woman lets go of the cords, will she lose everything? (I think we all believe that to be true.) Will the people, jobs, responsibilities in a woman's life continue to orbit around her without her guidance? That's a problem I've dealt with. I've given my life to my family and now I'm helping to support it. But my dream is not to fade away after all the kids are gone, but to become a published writer. That is my goal, the job I WANT to do now that I have the time to devote to it.

    So how do we, as women, break away the cords of habit? How do we find the balance in life without risking our souls?


  3. So funny about the dust bunny! Back in the earlier days of my marriage, when I was working the same hours as my husband then coming home and cooking, doing housework, etc., one night when I finally sat down to read a little bit, he said, "There's dust on the coffee table."

    Without looking up I said, "I didn't put it there."

    To his credit, he started laughing. "Meaning that if it bothers me I can do the dusting?"

    "You got it, Hot Rod."

    I still hold to that principle.

  4. Very thought provoking post!

    I will admit that when I was a different person about 100 years ago, I also tried to do it all and definately wasn't appreciated. When I moved out he had to call his mother to find out how to turn the washer on and had no idea where the vacuum cleaner lived in the house.

    One of my favorite parts of living alone is that if I want to delay folding laundry and putting it away I don't have to worry about any one complaining that it needs to be put away!

  5. Jean -I understand. Every time I have house guests I end up being the maid and the cook. Enough already! Get a hotel - I think to myself but I never say anything. However, lately I am getting more outspoken - I offered to make the reservations...

    Kathy - Exactly! I am so tired of being the glue. I want to be noticed and appreciated even if I just made a peanut butter sandwich for supper. I am not responsible for every one's happiness. That is their responsibility, not mine. I have finally snapped and that is what I have decided to live by from now on - you hold the keys to your own happiness.

    Maven Linda - I used to share the work at home with my husband when I had an outside job. He kinda got used to it until... well, now he's helping more. Why should I be totally responsible for cleaning, cooking, yard work, animals, etc., when he has one job? Nope, not happening any more.

    Stephanie - My husband would starve to death if I didn't decide what was for supper. That is the truth. He would rather go hungry than make a decision about what to eat. I wonder how he survived before we got married? Men...

  6. I have to say that my hubby and I have changed rolls. I'm working and he has returned to school. He takes care of lots of things. We share the work load for that is how a marriage is supposed to work. Neither one of us can do it all and we have five kids to raise. That is a full-time job. One of us have to be there for those calls of sick kids or whatever else maybe going on. Luckily my job is not a daily thing. I have flexiblity with how I work. Right now I'm off with everyone enjoying Thankgiving!

  7. Cheryl, I started telling my husband everything I did during the day so he'd know what I did--they are kinda of dim and need to be reminded. Remember, they don't think with two sides of their brains. They compartmentalize everything. Therefore we must remind them. Gently of course. I have also started waiting to do laundry till just before everyone is at home rather than trying to squeeze it into my writing day. That way I get help folding etc. I've also started to let things sit--not do them at all--with the exception of cooking because I enjoy cooking.

    I get the whole relatives take advantage of you when they visit, too. I once had my family from Texas come--I was treated like a maid and even overheard the wife say "she's a SAHM so what does she do all day anyway?" Seriously. I remember cooking, cleaning, washing every towel (SIL and niece used 2 a day and never reused). At one point BIL and Husband were in the kitchen standing there wondering why there wasn't any supper made. (husband reverted to wolf status very quickly with these animals in the house). Any rate, the following year, they visited again. I gave them each 2 towels, hid the rest. Told them to use every day. I provided tons of bread, lunch meat, and condiments. I also pulled out paper plates and said the house was a "self-serve" house.

    Thankfully, a family issue kept me from having to see them for over 7 yrs. They did threaten to come visit two years ago, but they are such crummy planners that they couldn't come during the window of time we had available. Thank goodness.

    I'm glad my husband has learned to value my work around the house as well as my writing, but he still needs some reminders. The thing that gets me is that I am responsible for all the trip and vacation planning. And then if something goes wrong, I tend to feel like it is my fault. New goal? Kind of be like that crock pot cookbook: Fix It and Forget It. I'll plan it and roll with it--peeps will have to roll as well.

    Great post!!

  8. Hey Misty! Glad you are having a good time at the Gulf! With five kids I don't know how you both get any rest! It's good that you share the chores.

    Christine - Yes, I have those relatives too! Glad they aren't coming for Thanksgiving. It's a good idea you had to run down a list of everything you did all day. They do have such short-terms memories!

  9. Wow! This is a meaningful essay to me!