Featured 7 December 1998 and archived 30 December 1998
Sonya Haskins is the full-time stay-at-home mom of Sarah, Micah and Christopher. She also writes magazine articles and is working on her first book. Sonya welcomes comments from readers and constantly seeks to meet new moms to interview for the book.
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A few weeks ago I decided to visit my family four hours away in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My husband was going to ride to Alabama with his mom and dad for Thanksgiving so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for me to spend some time in my old hometown and rendezvous with Chris and his family for the holidays. Also, I thought the time with me and the children out of the house would be nice for him to relax, work on the computer, play, read, and do a few housecleaning chores.
I praise my husband for helping regularly with the children, but as a homemaker, I still do most of the childcare, cleaning, cooking, laundry, errands, bill paying, etc. Since I would be away for two weeks, however, I left Chris the following list and asked if he could do these things sometime within that two week period: vacuum, sweep & mop, clean bathrooms, clean children's room, think about where to put a Christmas tree, work on your car (that hasn't been driven in over two years), dust, measure windows for storm windows, balance checkbook (normally my duty, too, but I made an error and wanted it rechecked), and pile all paperwork on dining room table for me.
I'm beginning to see that men just don't place the same priority on housecleaning as women do.
Thanksgiving was celebrated wonderfully at my sister-in-law's house in Alabama. My two sisters-in-law, my mother-in-law, and I were in the kitchen all day cooking, cleaning up after ourselves, and trying to entertain six young children all at the same time. Occasionally I would glance into the living room to see which movie the men were watching and wonder if I might harbor some secret jealousy to be male. The post Thanksgiving feast included more clean-up and then preparing the children for bed. By the time we were finished, I was too exhausted to stay up and watch a movie if I had wanted to do so. My husband, of course, wanted to stay up and play on the computer until I gave him one of my "don't even think about it" looks.
I hope all this complaining isn't too discouraging for you. Normally I'm a very positive person, but when I came home to see my list still on the dry erase board on our refrigerator, I was disappointed. I told my dear husband that I appreciated his help with the children and his help cleaning when he actually does it, but I couldn't believe I would be gone for two whole weeks and he couldn't even fold the towels that I had washed for him before I left. I complained and said I wouldn't mention it to him again and I'm happy to say that I haven't. I decided to tell everyone we don't know instead.
The point is this. Men are men and homemakers are homemakers. We love what we do even if we do need a break sometimes. Maybe the men just need more tangible encouragement to completing the occasional tasks such as the ones I asked my husband to do while I was out of town. Perhaps next time I'll leave a present hidden someplace in the house, but he has to do all the work first and then call me to find out where it's hidden. Or maybe I'll just hide it in the bottom of the laundry pile.
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