I’m literally on my hands and knees scrubbing our kitchen tiles. It’s my husband’s birthday today: June 18th. I’m listening to him put an IKEA shelf together with the children in the other room. What a way to spend your birthday, I think. Hey honey! Let’s clean the house!
The thing is, this is how we roll. We don’t have a cleaning person so if the kitchen is going to get presentable, I’ll be the one to do it. We don’t have lawn boys to do our yard work for us so if the weeds are going to be pulled, it will be our family pulling them. We have a lot, and I’m not even being dramatic here, a lot of work to do on our old 1963 “well loved” velveteen-rabbit of a house. And if it’s going to be done, we’ll be the ones to do it. Every weekend. For ever.
I have friends with cleaning people, or yard people, or nannies. I have co-workers that run the math for me about money versus time. I’m sure we’re not utilizing our time as efficiently as possible as I theoretically could spend all evenings earning more income with freelance and all weekends farming out our chores while we bond as a family.
I know these facts and yet, this is how we choose to do things. We might have the ugliest fireplace in the history of fireplaces but when we change it out, we’ll be painting it together. We might have the hole in the wall from the previous owner but it’s become a lower priority to all the other chores. The children’s bathroom is still broken and I know we’ll get to it eventually.
My four year old son plays “who can pull the biggest weed” with me. We laugh at just how big that root is, or how tall that weed got or watch a worm crawl in the dirt. We let the children wipe up the tables and teach them to take off their shoes when they walk in the front door because mommy just cleaned the floor and will lose her shit if you muddy it up right away. It’s a timeless middle-class adage that the chores come first before play. We try to do both, simultaneously, and listening to my husband show the kids how to put together a shelf and recycle the box it came in, on his birthday, reminds me why I married him in the first place.