The Housework Lament

18. Cleaning: Hey, even writers and creative artists have to do housework sometimes. Write about doing laundry, dishes, and other cleaning activities.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

Even writers and creative artists have to do housework sometimes? Oh, please. Give me a break. I spend so much of my time doing housework that I’d really rather not spend the time I have to write even thinking about it.

Damn it, I’ve spent so much of today on housework that I’d nearly forgotten to do today’s writing challenge. I was sitting, folding laundry when I realized I hadn’t written today!

I’ll tell you about housework.

The worst part about housework, is that whether I am actually executing the work or not, I am responsible for it. What is so exhausting is not how much of it I actually do (a lot) but how much I have to think about it.

With some exceptions, if I do not ask someone to do a piece of housework, it will not get done.

I could elaborate. In fact, I had written nearly a page griping on about it.

But I’m tired. Any homemaker knows what I mean. The person who carries the family’s entire schedule and inventory of home supplies in their head is going to be exhausted.

A Vicious Cycle

The conversation that my husband and I have over and over again is how hard it is, what a weight it is, to be the one harping on everyone to do their chores.

But perhaps it’s a vicious cycle. Perhaps because I remind everyone of their chores, they figure they don’t have to remember because I will tell them. And I know that if I don’t tell them, the chores won’t get done.

How do I break the cycle? Can anyone tell me?

Defining “Work”

15. Eavesdropper: Create a poem, short story, or journal entry about a conversation you’ve overheard.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

This morning, while my boys were having their breakfast, I overheard the following conversation:

“Papá went to work.”
“And mamá went to work.”
“What? Mamá doesn’t work!” (Laughter.)
“[Giggles] Mamá doesn’t work, yeah!”
“Mamá doesn’t do any work!”
“No, mama doesn’t do any work!”

Uproarious laughter. As if they had said something extremely witty.

I had been slicing an orange and I appeared (somewhat menacingly) next to them at the table, orange and knife in hand.

The dark, glowering look on my face (paired, perhaps, with the knife) must have been enough to tell them that Mamá was not happy, because they immediately fell silent.

“Let me make one thing very clear,” I said through clenched teeth. “Mamá does work. She may not get paid. She may not leave the house. But let me assure you that your mother does, in fact, work.”

Awed silence.

Then, a tentative question. “But Mamá… What work do you do?”

What work do I do? What work does any homemaker do? The list of the tedious, thankless jobs I do ran through my head. Scheduling, meal planning, shopping, cooking, tidying, cleaning, washing, folding, ironing (occasionally), wrangling, finding every lost item in the house, activity planning and coordinating, and so many, many more.

So in answer to my son’s infuriating question, I said, “I am CEO, operations director, head chef, chief medical officer, and various other positions, all in the home.”

Puzzlement. I added, “If anyone asks you what your mother does for work, you can tell them, ‘She works in the home.’”

Another little voice piped up. “Mamá, you’re not going to poke me?”

I looked at my younger son in confusion. Then I remembered the knife. I dropped my hand to my side.

“No, of course not my love.” Sweet smiles spread across their faces.

As I went back to slicing my orange, I couldn’t help but feel that I had inadequately addressed the situation. How does a homemaking mother teach her male children to value and appreciate what she does? How do I help them understand that what I do is not to be taken for granted?

How do I teach them not to assume that every mother does what I do? Not to assume that I work at home because I am a mother?

Heavy questions. I sighed. “Just another Thursday morning,” I thought to myself.