Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fear of Housework

"As they passed the rows of houses they saw through the open doors that men were sweeping and dusting and washing dishes, while the women sat around in groups, gossiping and laughing. "What has happened?" the Scarecrow asked a sad-looking man with a bushy beard, who wore an apron and was wheeling a baby-carriage along the sidewalk. "Why, we've had a revolution, your Majesty -- as you ought to know very well," replied the man; "and since you went away the women have been running things to suit themselves. I'm glad you have decided to come back and restore order, for doing housework and minding the children is wearing out the strength of every man in the Emerald City." "Hm!" said the Scarecrow, thoughtfully. "If it is such hard work as you say, how did the women manage it so easily?" "I really do not know," replied the man, with a deep sigh. "Perhaps the women are made of cast-iron.""

- L. Frank Baum, "The Land of Oz"

Frank Baum's quote tickles me every time I read it.  I can picture the scene clearly.  When I was thirteen my fifteen year old brother knew my negative opinion about housework. My struggle was very clear in a letter he wrote back in the summer of our teen years.  His letter, that I found recently, he wrote from Mexico.    He spent that summer living with a family in Mexico so he could improve his Spanish.  He wrote that the family had three live in maids and he could just hear me howling.  It was my opinion, which was very clear to him, that our family should hire a maid!  I didn’t realize it until now, that somehow, because of my genetic make up or something else, that I was trying to organize my life so that I would have no housework.  (My father wanted to live in a box car and not own anything. I must have inherited this desire from him.) One plan was to never get married.  Another plan was to live in a small apartment and not own anything.  I even wanted to simplify my life by designing a uniform for myself such as the jump suits the characters wore in Star Treck.  If I wore the same thing every day I would never have to think about or shop for clothes.  I envied the Israelites who wandered in the desert for 40 years because their shoes and clothes didn't wear out.

Fortunately or unfortunately I couldn’t help myself when I became attracted to boys as a teenager.  Never was I tempted to think about marriage until I met this cute guy who said he wanted to marry me and that we could live on a boat.  A light went on in my brain.  That would be how to marry and have no housework!  We did marry and did live on a boat but too late I found out that it is even more critical to work on a boat because it can become unseaworthy and sink!  We lived in several houses while our children were young. I would ask my husband for help with the house work.  One time when I asked him for some help with washing the dishes he immediately ran out and bought a dishwasher then instructed me on how I should load it.  Forty-six years later we live in a condo and have a housecleaner!  We are still trying to eliminate “stuff” so that we spend less time taking care of stuff and more time with people and working on relationships.  Retirement solves the wardrobe problem too.  Jeans and a t-shirt make life simple!  Below is a video about men and housework.

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