Very recently, an acquaintance of mine began something that had me leaping for joy and cheering her on: A Mommy Strike. Spurred on by a recent story of a Canadian mother who did this same thing (you can read that story here), my friend has decided to STOP picking up after her children who are old enough to do it themselves.
What do I think? I think these women are HEROES! I'm sure everyone with kids will agree that it's exhausting to pick up after them constantly. In my case, my children are too young to do a lot of chores. My 4 1/2 month old is doing good to not spew milk all over life. Of course. My 4 year old is a lot better though- she is capable of picking up her toys and putting them away (though most of the time she doesn't), and she is capable of putting her dirty clothes in the clothes hamper in her closet (this is a task she actually does all the time!). But doing her own dishes, laundry, and really cleaning her room other than tidying are a little beyond her. Which is understandable. Though I wish I didn't have to just follow her around picking up her things all the time, if I want my home clean enough that my little roly-poly baby won't pick up things he shouldn't, then I must. And I'm okay with this. Most of the time.
The real problem in my home comes from someone who is not an infant or toddler. I make the joke to everyone that I really have three children instead of two- my husband being child #3. He's almost 28 years old... What the hell is his excuse???
Before everyone jumps to conclusions and becomes appalled that I would attack my husband on a public blog, let me state this VERY clearly: I love my husband. He is a great man, who works very hard to take care of his family and protect our country. But he is a freaking slob.
So, go ahead. Judge away now that I've gotten that out in the open.
I'm sure by now everyone has grasped where I'm going with this post. Using the Mommy Strike as inspiration, I've decided to do a Husband Strike in my home, and this post is my official declaration of war. Instead of sitting aside and not picking up after my children, I will only not perform the very few simple tasks that I have literally begged my husband to do for the last five years of our marriage.
Here is some background:
In our home, my husband is the "bread-winner" if you like that term. I am the stay-at-home-slave. We are very blessed and very fortunate that our family is able to function this way (though, believe me- I'd LOVE the child vacation that would be a "job" a lot of the time...), but since this dynamic was established, my husband's home work ethic has completely vanished. And it's exhausting. And exasperating. I have to nag him to do his chores a hundred times the amount I have to ask my 4 year old, which is ridiculous.
Honestly, I've tried placing blame for his slovenly ways everywhere from his mother coddling him throughout his childhood to him just doing it to piss me off. In reality, I only have one person to blame and that is myself. I've allowed him to be lazy our entire marriage, telling myself over and over that I owe it to him to do as many things in our home as I'm physically capable of doing so that he has very little to do when he comes home from work. He works a LOT. Military, what can you say? But in the end all I've gotten myself is a grown man who won't do anything at all now. In the beginning, it was hard, but I was able to get him to tidy up after himself somewhat. Over the years, his attention to his household duties has decreased and decreased and decreased to the point he does virtually nothing if he is home, other than make extra messes. This in turn makes me feel unappreciated, miserable, and furious. Always. It's a feeling that never goes away now. But I was the one who let it happen. In fact, throughout our whole marriage I can count the number of times he's cleaned in our home without a rant of my rage first on one hand. Actually, I can count the number of times on one finger.
One, in case you didn't get the joke. I was pregnant with our son, and was off at his squadron's fund-raiser garage sale, making money for him. He was at home. But to his credit, he did pick up a lot of things, tried to do some dishes, and mopped the kitchen. It was impressive, really. I almost died of shock.
Before anyone starts chastising me for being angry at him for blowing off his chores, let me list them out for you:
1.) Take out the trash
2.) Mow the lawn
3.) Put his own dishes in the sink
4.) Put his dirty laundry in the basket in our closet
...Is that too much to ask? I mean, is it really? I do absolutely everything else in our home. I paint, I repair, I clean, I cook, I take care of the kids, etc. Hence, stay-at-home-slave. But four things. Four tiny things. It takes him less than thirty minutes to mow the lawn, in case anyone wondered what type of task that one was. Less than thirty minutes IF I can pry him off of the couch to do it at all. All I ask is four things.
He does ZERO of them. Our lawn has gone more than a month without being cut several times. I end up taking out the trash more than he does, and I'm beginning to think he doesn't know where the sink or laundry basket is. Even though his dirty clothes end up tossed right beside said laundry basket on the floor. Or downstairs in the living room hanging all over the furniture. Or in the hallway. Or in the bathroom... You get the point.
I get it, I really, really get it! He's at work all the time. He has very long days, too. And he's tired when he gets home. But the difference between his job and mine is that he gets to stop at some point, come home, and do nothing. Or at least, that's how he sees it.
"I just got off of work, why should I come home and do more work?"
Um, well, then when do I "get off work"?
At one point in time, I was very ill with the flu. I could barely get out of bed except to vomit. It's a miracle I found the energy to take care of our daughter (our only child at the time). Laundry? It didn't happen. Dishes? Are you kidding? I wasn't eating- why were there dirty dishes in the first place? Bottles, sure, but that was all I found justifiable for me to clean. Three days. Only three days after I got sick we had zero clean dishes, the baby's laundry was running low on clean items, and the hubby had NO clean clothes. Don't ask me how this is even possible. I honestly don't know.
After he'd come home that evening of the third day and could watch the baby I'd shut the door to our bedroom, taken more medicine, turned off the lights, and begged for sleep to take me. And then the door opened to a very grouchy man and his very grouchy questions: "Why are there no clean dishes? And why do I not have any clean clothes?!"
My first reaction: Smash his head into the wall. But that would have taken a lot of energy. And I'd have had to get out of bed, which wasn't happening.
Second reaction: To tell him it was because his lazy ass hadn't cleaned a damn thing in years. But my brain-to-mouth filter works better than that. Most of the time. And I think my brain had a lot more swear words in mind when having this thought...
Third reaction, and the actual thing that was said: "I guess our magical, house-cleaning ghost went on vacation." And then I closed my eyes to go back to sleep.
To say I was put-out over this blatant example of being taken for granted would be a serious understatement.
I like to equate my husband to the Peanuts character Pig Pen. He's the one that's always dirty with a cloud of dust and dirt following him around. I've considered hunting down an outfit to match the cartoon's and making him wear it just for my own amusement...
But I doubt I could force him into some weird over-all shorts...
At the current moment my husband is away and will not return until this upcoming weekend. Like the dutiful wife-slave, I will unpack for him when he gets home, clean all his dirty laundry, and get him all ready to go for the upcoming week. I will do this, because I love him and it is my "job" to do so.
But come Monday, The Husband Strike begins in my household. I will let it go on for two weeks.
I will not pick up his dirty dishes and put them in the sink. When he has forced our family to run out of dishes, I will keep a set cleaned for my daughter and myself.
I will not take out the trash. When the baby's Diaper Genie is overflowing, and bags and bags of other diapers begin accumulating in the nursery, I will stand strong. Unless it becomes a hazard to my baby- that's where I draw the line. In that case, the bags of diapers might mysteriously end up inside my husband's truck. When the kitchen trash looks more like trash mountain, I will let it sit. I will not demand it be taken out.
I will not clean any of his clothes that are not placed in the laundry basket. If the clothes are in the basket, I will wash them as per usual. I only ask that he puts them where they belong.
I will not nag about the lawn from sun-up 'til sun-down on the weekends. Granted, now that it's fall and the lawn barely grows this one will have virtually ZERO impact, but by the time he comes home this weekend, it will have already gone three weeks without being mowed. We'll see if it happens within the two weeks of Strike.
And that's all. These are the only parameters of the Strike. I will still do everything else that I've always done. But we'll see how long it takes for my home to become a disaster... We will see...
Who wants to bet he won't notice at all? ;)
The woman who went on strike in the story and my friend who is now doing the same with her older children posted/are posting on Facebook about the state of the home and how the strike is going. Since my husband is on Facebook and can obviously see my posts I do not have this luxury. So my sole outlet will be this blog. He has never read my blog before, so I don't think he'll start any time soon! So for anyone who reads this and knows him: SHHHHH!!! Do NOT tell him what is happening!
Stay tuned for daily updates!!!
Well, today is Monday- the day I'd planned to begin my Husband Strike. As luck would have it, my poor husband came down with the flu... :( So, I will begin the Strike once he feels better- how can you be on strike for a sick man??? Strike antics coming soon!