Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Naked Truth

My husband has no pants to wear. Well, he has pants, but they are all members of various suits he owns. His khakis and his jeans have all disappeared into the black hole of laundry and this week, he's had to rely on suits and odd nylon exercise pants to get by. Fortunately, he spent a day at home while I was on death's door, and then a day in bed, so he suffered minimally.

But he said when he goes to work naked next week and people ask, what should he say? And I said, "Tell them your wife has been sick. No, tell them you are helpless and can't iron your own pants."

We are so traditional. He'd happily take them to the dry cleaners to be pressed but do you realize that would cost $4.00 per pair? I can iron six pairs--maybe more--in an hour, which gives us a rate of $24.00 per hour to have those pants pressed. I can't bear to pay for what I do so quickly. And no. He doesn't iron. He also doesn't cook, do laundry or breastfeed babies.

The sad and obvious fact is that I am ill-suited to house-wifery. Perhaps it's because a truly traditional housewife, in the 1950s sense of the word, would not be schooling her children at home. She would not be fooling around on the internet or watching cable television. She'd be wearing pearls and pumps and ironing her grateful husband's pants. And she'd do it while wearing perfectly applied lipstick.

I am a sorry excuse for a housewife. I admit it. Not only do I not keep up with the ironing, I also don't do a very good job keeping things spic and span. The other day I read an obituary (I always read them) in which a deceased woman was described: "she loved keeping an immaculate house for her husband." Oh dear. That will so NOT be in my obituary. Mine will read more like, "She read a lot and liked People magazine and wrote her own blog. She dusted as little as possible and often forgot to plan dinner."

It's not that I don't enjoy an immaculately kept home. Oh no, far from it. It's just that I live with these other people who are constantly undoing what I've done. They have no regard for tidy rooms and neat cupboards. They feel no compunction to pick up trash they might have dropped. They leave their shoes exactly wherever they take them off. Laundry never finds its way to the laundry room. They leave crumbs on the counters, grease on the stove, and a sticky trail wherever they go.

And I've tried to train them, teach them, encourage them. I have. And as a recovering perfectionist, I've decided to just surrender to the chaos rather than drive them all into therapy.

If I could stand it, I'd be like one of those people you see in shopping mall food courts--you know the ones with the rolling trashcan and the little spray bottle who wipe up after slobs who leave messes? But I don't want to spend my time following people around, straightening up and putting stuff away and wiping down the tables. It's hopeless and boring and repetitive. And did I mention repetitive?

A couple of days ago, I saw Dr. Phil's wife on his show. She's fifty, you know, and terminally cute and perky and well-groomed. And the whole show was about how she does it, how You, Too, Should Take Care of Yourself. Apparently, she is wholly devoted to remaining attractive for Dr. Phil--she uses a team of professionals, a skin-care regimen, an exercise regimen, all kinds of regimens, laser treatments, plus a nightly bath filled with expensive potions. Staying cute sounded like a full-time job to me, the kind of job a former cheerleader would sign up for. I was not a cheerleader.

I'm not that kind of a wife, either, one devoted to my looks and my body. My physical self hardly rates a thought, not to mention expensive cosmetic counter products. I haven't even had a haircut in fifteen months. I don't buy outfits and I never shop for shoes. My workout equipment is holding all the wrinkled pants my husband can't wear.

As I said, I am ill-suited to be a wife. And that's the naked truth. Just don't tell my husband.


Blogger Smoov said...

Okay, no offense.....but I could never, in a million years, be married to an adult who could not handle his own laundry. Or for that matter, a man who did barely any domestic work. It isn't as if you don't have a full time thing going with FOUR kids and a daycare kid too! Plus homeschooling two kids. I know your husband works, but so does mine and he does nearly all the laundry and plenty of other things around the house. So I guess my point is, doesn't it piss you off sometimes that he makes mention of being naked at work because you were sick and did not do laundry? I mean, don't you just want to say "Hey asshole, do your own fucking laundry!" ? Really, the man has a master degree right? And he can't figure out how to iron some freakin' pants? Oh hell no. Not in THIS house!

Sorry for the rant :)

1:39 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I have stumbled across your blog recently and thought I should say hello. I enjoy both your topics and your style. You write about your life but in an intersting fashion that draws me in. Keep up the good work. And iron the guy's pants will ya? :)

8:20 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

You crack me up, Mel. Honestly. Now I don't feel so bad. I, too, sadly, am a sorry excuse for a house wife. Thankfully, my hubby does not have to wear ironed pants. I, too, would like to have a clean, clutter free house, but, like you, I live with others who do not. Thanks for the laugh, I gotta go, there's a show on I want to watch!! ha ha

2:17 PM  
Blogger Thia said...

You are a brave woman. I cannot imagine what my house would have looked like after my pregnancy if my dh didn't clean and do laundry. Ironing is non existant in this house.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Smoov, his good points outweigh his bad. He'd happily pay for his pants to be pressed, but I refuse to let him, so it's a problem of my own doing. I don't mind taking care of most of the domestic chores--really, I don't--but then again, I'm not going to grad school, working full-time and trying to find a cure for cancer. :)

Oh, and I did attempt to teach him to iron when we were first married and it was so frustrating and aggravating that I decided it was not worth the fight.

This is what happens when two southern "moms" raise the youngest, treasured boy in the family. He's definitely a keeper, though. :)

4:36 PM  
Blogger QQ said... least you iron. In my house, if it comes out of the dryer wrinkled...then your shit out of luck :)

5:57 PM  
Blogger Hillary said...

Okay Mel, I am going to start as SMOOV did...please take no offense, but the feminist in me is screaming! I am certain your husband has many exceptional qualities. His work alone speaks to that and you wouldn't be married to him if he didn't. However, every time you write an entry about how little he helps you around the house or with the kids I want to bop him over the head with a big bottle of cleaning fluid. For cying out loud, unless you are exaggerating, this man does nothing around the house. You have a full time job for which you are beyond underpaid. How about for Christmas you buy him a pair of Playtex rubber gloves and a toilette brush. He NEEDS to pitch in. If you really don't want him to, well then I guess I'll quit feeling soory for you : )

8:22 PM  
Blogger Brandie said...

First of all, as a former cheerleader, I do not have any sort of regimens. I, like you, am very ill-suited to housework too! LOL! But somedays, I wish I did have a workout regimen, a skin care regimen, and other things. But, my poor family is stuck with someone who is a poor housekeeper, plans dinner in about5 minutes and could probably stand to be at the computer a little less and folding clothes a bit more!

9:45 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Hillary said: "However, every time you write an entry about how little he helps you around the house or with the kids I want to bop him over the head with a big bottle of cleaning fluid. For cying out loud, unless you are exaggerating, this man does nothing around the house."

My reply: Hillary, I actually thought I was writing about what a rotten housewife I am, in the Martha-Stewart sense of the word. The fact that my husband doesn't iron was sort of imperative to the story, but I wasn't writing about him. I was writing about me. I do my best to protect his privacy in this blog and I only drag him in to make a point or a joke. I could extol his virtues, describe how he read a book about marriage this week, explain how he stayed home from work at the last minute because I asked him to, tell all about him driving the kids to school, taking them to various events, reading every night to the youngest, playing with Babygirl . . . I could tell you how he got up at 5 a.m. with our twins for two years so I didn't have to . . . but this is not about how great he is. I'm not trying to paint an accurate and complete picture of him, so apparently I've given the wrong impression.

I don't think equal division of labor is important or necessary to make a marriage and family work well. If it were that important to me, I would have picked a different type of man. But him not cooking and doing laundry are not deal-breakers for me. I am the one at home--it only makes sense that I do most of the household chores and childcare, too, for that matter, at least during this stage of our lives.

And we've been married quite happily for 17 years, so I think we're doing all right, even though I have come to realize what a dismal housekeeper I am.

Anyway, I appreciate the comments, but don't feel sorry for me! Feel sorry for women married to men who beat them or who gamble away their money or who divorce them for a younger, thinner woman!

This is my journal and as such, I will complain here and there about the daily grind of housework. :)

10:56 PM  
Blogger Trish said...

I found your blog through Suburban Lesbian and I have to tell you that this post is TOTALLY me. Except that my husband has become a husband who does laundry, irons his shirts and cooks dinner because I'm so lousy at being a housewife. Why he keeps me is beyond me... unless it's because I'm dead sexy. Heh.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Eyes said...

I loved your post! I think you are hanging on the image of the 1950s housewife too much. Have you seen Wife Swap (ABC or NBC) and Trading Spouses (FOX)_. If not, you must watch it! You will see you are NORMAL, and a totally good housewife -- probably way better than most :)

I try hard and believe me, next to my mom I fail too. She is constantly deep cleaning. I don't do so well at that one.

7:35 AM  
Blogger Tina said...

When my husband's side of the closet is bare, then I say, "Guess you'll have to shop for some new pants!" ;)


7:55 AM  
Blogger Hillary said...

Poor me! I have been electronically spanked! And here I thought I was extolling your virtues and supporting you for all your hard work and efforts to raise a family. For the record I don't think that describing how supportive your husband is every once in a while is disrespectful in anyway to his privacy. Perhaps you don't realize it, but a lot of your "jokes" make him look like a total boob! As for this being your Blog...duh! I guess I mistakenly thought it was also an opprotunity for your faithful readers to champion your cause. A mistake I'll think twice about before posting again!

12:59 PM  
Blogger Mel said...


Don't be silly. Your comments are always welcome here, even if they do provoke me to feel all defensive and thus to overreact in my comments to comments.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:55 PM  
Blogger jennifer starfall said...

i do all the laundry.

because i hate the way he does it...


6:34 AM  

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