I don’t know when or how it happened, but it appears that I have been “promoted” to the position of Household CEO. The job is relentless, exhausting and the benefits seem none existent. I would like to contact HR immediately and hand in my two weeks notice.
Let me take a step back and start by saying that I am proud to live in a feminist household. My husband and I are 100% equal partners and neither of us believes in gender specific roles.
Overall, we take an equal share in the division of daily household duties. If I cook, he washes the dishes. I will mop the floors, he will clean the bathroom. I’ll feed the baby, he’ll put the toys away. You get the picture.
The only thing that we do not share equally is the mental load. By this I mean remembering what needs to be done and when. It seems that, unintentionally, I have been tasked with ensuring that the household continues to run smoothly and successfully. As the Household CEO, I am lumped with all the responsibility of planning, delegating and directing.
The disproportionate sharing of the mental load between sexes, was illustrated in a comic titled ‘You Should’ve Asked’. This comic went viral mid last year as it resonated with women all over the world.
“The mental load is almost completely borne by women. It’s permanent and exhausting work. And it’s invisible”, reads the comic.
A snippet of my typical daily mental load would sound something like this. “What are we going to have for dinner tonight? I must remember to buy more milk. Shit, I can’t forget that the bins have to go out tonight. What are we going to have for dinner? I better remind my husband to send his mother a gift for her birthday. I better get the washing off the line in case it rains. Seriously, what the fuck are we going to have for dinner!”
Please don’t get me wrong. I am unbelievably grateful for my husband. He is the kindest, most generous, loving man alive. I feel unbelievably lucky to have him in my life. He would do absolutely anything I ask of him. I just have to ask.
But what if I don’t want to ask. Is that unreasonable?
My internal dialogue swings wildly between ‘you have an incredible husband, stop being an ungrateful bitch, and “why do I have to be in charge of remembering all of this, it isn’t fair!”
Even in this day and age, I am aware that there are still men out there that barely lift a finger to contribute to the household chores. But surely, just because some men are lousy partners, this should not stand to reason that we lower the benchmark by which we measure fairness.
My husband and I have discussed the mental load on numerous occasions. He wholeheartedly agrees that this burden should not fall squarely on my shoulders. He endeavors to take more initiative when it comes to household tasks and I aspire to be less controlling and let him do things in his own time.
But inevitably, within a few days, we fall back into the same pattern. I hold my tongue, hoping he will notice that the recycling bin is now so full that we have created a gravity defying tower out of empty milk cartons and cereal boxes. And I attempt to ignore the leftovers in the fridge that now appear so moldy that they could fill the penicillin requirements of a small nation.
I know that my husband sincerely strives to take on more of the mental load. The problem is that he honestly does not notice or remember the household tasks that need tending to.
Eventually, I break my vow of silence. With a (passive-aggressive) sigh, I ask him to empty the bins on his way out or to clean the fridge. He readily obliges. We are back to where we started.
I don’t have the answer to this issue. I wish I did. For now, our household will continue persevering to be as equitable as possible.
And until we reach that goal, perhaps I will start a Union for all the other Household CEOs out there, to at least improve our working conditions.
P.S. If you enjoyed reading this article you may also like to read ‘ALTERNATIVE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS‘.
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