How far we haven’t come

A post popped up on my Facebook page last week that made my eyes go REALLY wide.

Here’s what it said: “My husband and I both work full time jobs. Every morning (without fail) his alarm will go off at 5.50am and he will roll over and ask if his work clothes are ready (i.e. Ironed shirt and pants). I’ve set my alarm for 5.45am tomorrow and I’m going to roll over and ask if my work clothes are ready. Stay tuned for the response!”

It was sharp reminder that I inhabit a charmed bubble: the world described in that message is sooooooo far removed from mine. I forget such situations are still quite common.

Sure, I’ve occasionally ironed a shirt for a bloke as a favour, but it’s never, ever been a given.

I’ll admit there were certain divisions of labour in my marriage – I expected my husband to put the bins out – but the idea that I’m supposed to iron his clothes for work each day … hello? What’s THAT all about?

On the other hand, I just admitted that my husband was expected to take the bins out. What’s the difference?

Maybe ironing is one of those divisions of labour in their household and there are lots of jobs the wife expects the husband to do each week.

So, what is it about the “are my work clothes ready?” question that bugs me so much?

Because it REALLY bugs me.

DD was funny when I sent the comment to him, expressing my horror. He replied: “I mean that is out-rage-ous. He doesn’t want sex first?”

That made me giggle and eased the righteous indignation a little.

I mused on the subject throughout the day and realised that perhaps it HAD touched a cord regarding my own marriage. While we both cooked and cleaned and ironed, there were assumed responsibilities that bothered me.

For example, despite the fact I was the major breadwinner during most of our marriage, it was my responsibility to pick up the kids at the end of the day. That was pretty tricky some nights when I was working as the editorial director of a weekly magazine. While most of my staff remained at their desks, toiling to get the latest issue ready for publication, I was sneaking out the door.

Sometimes I’d feel so guilty that I’d leave my handbag at my desk and duck out with just my wallet and keys to give the impression I was still in the building somewhere, perhaps at a meeting.

It made every day incredibly stressful. I felt like I was failing at both my career and motherhood as I made that frantic dash across the city to childcare.

So perhaps I’m no different to the woman being asked by her husband at 5.45am if his clothes are ironed.

Maybe I’ve been kidding myself all along.

Song of the day: Tom Jones “She’s a lady”





8 thoughts on “How far we haven’t come

  1. The bins are a couple of minutes at most, if he’s slow. Whereas women are expected to do all the jobs in the house that take the time, like ironing. When we were first married, spouse expected his clothes ironed, because his mother had done it. News flash, I am not his mother. I was also working full time and studying full time (wish I had that energy now). So I stopped ironing his stuff. Amazing how quickly he went and got wash and wear shirts so that he didn’t have to iron. But after 25 years of marriage (almost), I am still fighting for equal division of home labour. Not helped by his mother coming down and doing his ironing once week.

  2. I shake my head at how many hours I used to spend ironing. What was I thinking? A good shake out after washing and most things don’t even need it. I understand what you’re saying. Why should it have been your sole responsibility to collect the kids from childcare? I think a lot of men from that generation grew up with a false sense of entitlement and had ingrained notions of what was expected from women because their mothers carried on the way their mothers had and boys grew up seeing it acted out. Most young men these days wouldn’t expect it, I hope.

  3. How crap! Even my 13yo son knows how to iron his school clothes (although he generally prefers to wear them crumpled). Husband does most of the family ironing as he is the one with the business shirts. Before I met him, I mostly wore non-iron fabrics.

  4. I do all the cooking in my house. But that’s basically for self-preservation. My husband’s a shocking cook and I’ve eaten his mum’s food – I know the fruit didn’t fall far from the tree. His job is the rubbish and part of that is the compost. I really resent that sometimes he’ll leave it 3 or 4 days in summer to take the compost out to the heap and fruit flies start to infest the kitchen. And don’t start me on maggots. I don’t see why if I have to cook daily, he doesn’t have to take the compost down as often.

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