I first met Melbourne Dad Blogger Reservoir Dad on the dance floor at a blogging conference. He was behaving rather badly so I knew that we were to become lifelong friends.
He sent me this post a while back and I have been sitting on it, waiting for the right time to release it into the world. After yesterdays discussions about keeping things simple, the release date is TODAY! Thanks RD.
“I think housework is far more tiring and frightening than hunting is, no comparison, and yet after hunting we had eggs for tea and were made to rest for hours, but after housework people expect one to go on just as if nothing special had happened.”
A bazillion toys going shoulder to shoulder with shoes and towels and school bags and books. There are more clothes on the floor than in the cupboards and when I have the absurd thought that there are enough crumbs – in the dining area alone – to turn the two kilos of chicken in the fridge into chicken schnitzel, I am reminded that I need to begin preparing dinner before the kids start going nutso for food.
As I start unstacking the dishwasher to access the necessary pots for cooking it hits me – like a mallet to my hanging ovaries – that I will be restacking it again in about an hour. I will also be cleaning dinner off the floor and piling wet towels into the overflowing basket in the laundry and flailing my way through the bedtime routine, all googly-eyed, like a hurled Octopus.
I hear the idyllic squealing and laughter of children and when I look outside I see that my freshly cleaned boys have gathered around the dog’s water bucket and drenched themselves with its filth.
I am sucked back into the immediacy of the domestic frontline, wounded, on the verge of spiralling into a housework-born despair. The approaching numbness allows this truth to arise –
Housework is stupid. It’s a first world problem created by the affluent, requiring lots of floor space, a heap of possessions, an over abundance of vanity and enough insecurity to sprinkle over everything. To be truly disruptive to the spirit there also needs to be a perceived pressure from ‘society’ to maintain a level of polish and sheen that is not only impossible when raising a young family, but is also a distraction from true family engagement and the rewards it can bring.
Don’t you think it's weird that we buy all these cars and houses and objects and then have to spend our lives cleaning them all the time? I saw this doco once about a tribe living like their ancestors in Papua New Guinea. They ate off leaves and when they were taken to a posh English pig-raising family who lived in a Mansion, they were astounded that the wealthy people spent so much of their time cleaning things. One of the tribe guys, who had dinner with the pig farmers and then watched as they spent hours cleaning dishes, said, 'Why don't they just use leaves and then throw them away?'
When Reservoir Mum returns home I hand her a child, give her a kiss and inform her that I am going to go outside and find some leaves to eat our food from but when she shakes her head and offers me a bemused smile, it occurs to me that all I’ll find is gum leaves and they’re way to small to hold the amount of food I like to eat. Plus, we have really nice dishes. It would be a shame not to use them.
Yes, those tribesmen and women have a housework-free life – and they’re probably right that we own too many things and spend too much of our time maintaining them – but they don’t have a Plasma TV inside their perishable huts. I do. I have a sensational Plasma TV. And I keep a packet of Kleenex screen wipes in a draw next to it because I like to keep it…. shiny.
I’m an almost forty, stay at home Dad, married to Reservoir Mum. Four boys under seven, a dog named Ekko, a guinea pig and rabbit named Nugget and Chips, a Tarago called Mighty, and a robotic vacuum named Wilson (I love him best of all). You can find more of my work at my website. I’ve also written several unpublished novels. Some published short stories. Some poems about ducks.