Pick It Up Yourself, Mate.

October 29, 2007 at 5:45 am (Uncategorized)

This may come as a surprise, but it was actually Llew’s suggestion that I post on this topic today. It hadn’t occurred to me until he said “So I guess you’ve got your blog for today, huh?” and then I thought, why yes, I suppose I do. Thanks for the idea, dear husband.

Yes, it’s about housework, and how sick to absolute death I am of doing well beyond my share. I am so sick and tired of increasingly picking up after Llew like he’s regressing right before my eyes into some kind of man-child that I could break all of his things into a million tiny pieces and leave them in a pile on his side of the bed. A deep, burning rage is taking up residence inside me and it surges into action every time I walk through our apartment and see the things Llew has left in his wake. Things he simply could not be arsed picking up, putting away, disposing of or whatever. Things he just left for someone else to deal with, and that someone else is me.

We used to be a much more democratic household. Llew really used to do a fair-ish share of the work it takes to keep a place nice and livable instead of CRAZY-MAKING and cramped. Then, slowly but surely, he started to slide. In corporate parlance he might understand better than a ranting wife on the end of the phone, he started failing to meet key performance indicators.

A number of changes contributed to Llew’s performance review result of unsatisfactory. One is that we employed fortnightly cleaners a bit over a year ago. Before that, we both had chores in the weekly clean line-up. Now I continue to do mine once a week and Llew never does his, simply waiting for the wonderful day when the cleaners arrive and remove all sign of his letting the side down. Another is that Llew used to wash and iron his own work shirts. Now he pays someone else to do it and because I’m here all through the day, I’m the one who drops them off at the laundry at the end of our street and I’m the one who picks them up again. Llew now doesn’t do anything as part of this transaction except wear a shirt every day. Sometimes he can’t even be bothered removing the collar stiffeners and cufflinks before tossing the shirt in his basket, but as if by magic they’re always removed. A third is related to the second, which is that I work from home.

There are several related issues here. I am perfectly aware that I am the one with the unstable income who doesn’t put on a suit, go into town, and work in an office every day. I’m aware that right now, Llew is the regular and primary income earner in our household. I’d be a fool not to know this, and to fail to recognise and appreciate the fact that I am married to someone who really believes in me as a writer. He believes in my freelance work, he believes in my potential to become a published author, and he believes that my working full-time on the two sides of this vocational coin is the only way forward. His belief in all these things allows me to do them because what he is saying is that I don’t have to go and get a conventional job, that he’ll help me do what I need to do. This is generous in spirit and in fact – clearly this path means we are making financial sacrifices. It’s only money, but money matters. I do know how fortunate I am, and I am really grateful to Llew for his willingness to do these things on my behalf. But I did also bring money into our marriage, and I have worked many, many jobs in the years we’ve been together. I maintain us too. I have gotten us ahead too. I contribute financially too. I have made financial sacrifices for our sake too. So… what I don’t feel is that I owe Llew, or that our arrangement means I should have to do all the housework.

Let me qualify that. I am aware enough of the situation that I have taken on the majority of the housework. I work from home, so isn’t it easier if I do the grocery shopping? I work from home, so isn’t it easier if I pay all the bills? I work from home, so isn’t it easier if I do the towels? I work from home, so isn’t it easier if I do the sheets? I work from home, so isn’t it easier if I do the rest of the washing? Hang it out? Bring it in? Fold it up? Put it away? I work from home, so isn’t it easier for me to make dinner? I work from home, so isn’t it easier for me to sweep and plump and tuck?

Okay. I can put up with just about all of those things – I have a routine that allows me to avoid the pitfalls of working from home becoming nothing more than a permanent housekeeping job (all this with a PhD! You too could be a cleaner full-time!!). I do spend most of my day, every day, at my desk writing. I have to. I make myself. I make myself stop doing the chores. But what I really can’t abide is that Llew’s now not even doing the bare minimum of work to help me, and that’s picking up after himself. Now he’s not even doing that.

He’s leaving shoes, parcels, glasses, ice cream wrappers, bits of floss, paperwork, items of clothing, dirty gym towels, socks, empty water bottles, orange peel, newspapers and, at his lowest ebb, clipped nails behind for me. And I say “Oh no, you don’t, pal,” and still it continues. And because this is both my home and my office, I can’t just leave it. I do so much picking up after Llew because I just CAN’T STAND the stuff being left there in the first place.


So Llewie, dear husband, who like most men doesn’t mean to be bad, he’s just doing what most men do which is get away with as much as they possibly can (and women are often just the idiots who let them), this is what I would like to say to you: do it yourself. Please just do it yourself. Because here’s the thing: I’m not doing it anymore.



  1. Llew J said,

    Well, at least I got a few good months of lethargy in through winter…

  2. doctordi said,

    I honestly thought your comment was going to be “Where’s my dinner, woman?” or something equally side-splitting. I’m impressed you resisted an urge I don’t doubt was strong! x

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