An anomaly worthy of praise.

th 2 146x150 An anomaly worthy of praise.I’m sitting near a blazing fire watching Chamber of Commerce snow fall. The flakes are fat and fluffy and seem to dance on their way down, the way the bits of white inside a snow globe frolic back and forth before settling.

The house is perfumed by the corned beef simmering in a Dutch oven and by a batch of kale and sausage soup (heavy on the potatoes, moderate on the garlic and with a judicious amount of Frank’s Red Hot pepper sauce). If I concentrated, I could probably scent the last of the homemade yogurt that I drained through a cloth-lined colander a little while ago.

But the dominant fragrance is of freshly washed laundry hung on racks set up between me and the fireplace insert, which is cranking out so much heat that the clothes and towels may be dry before I finish writing this.

Domestic contentment – made even more delightful by the fact that it is shared domesticity. When DF got home from church (he’s the cantor for 8 a.m. Mass) he dove right into chores: two loads of laundry, putting the corned beef on to cook, cleaning the tub, general tidying. I can track his progress by the whistling or occasional scraps of song he emits while moving from job to job.

Where was I? Cutting up soup ingredients, placing some vegetable scraps into the freezer for making stock later on and relegating others to the compost, putting the yogurt into a container and storing the whey in a jar. Oh, and smiling. Smiling.

I love a man who whistles while he works. And I especially love a man who doesn’t regard the domestic arena as expressly female.

Housework often comes up in discussions of equality. Men often get impatient when you bring it up. Some protest that they do “all the outside stuff” or “all the dirty work” like automobile care and yard chores.

But snow tires get changed over once a year and gutters cleaned maybe twice per annum. Meals, on the other hand, must be prepared three times a day and bathrooms need cleaning week after week.

And all the “dirty” work? Have you ever swabbed out a toilet or changed a diaper?

It’s still optional

Even more galling are the guys who say, “Hey, I help around the house.” You help? These are your kids, your meals and your toilets too, buster. At what point did the woman you love turn into the maid-of-all-work whom you “help” when it suits you to be magnanimous?

For an update of “The Second Shift,” sociologist Arlie Hochschild found that little had changed. Women, she says, are still largely responsible for what gets done. If she’s not staying home with the kids, then a woman must arrange for good child care. (She must also find time to punish herself for having been absent in the first place.)

She needs to set up immunizations, purchase snowsuits, make sure school lunches are paid for, deliver baked goods to classrooms, cart children to soccer practice or play dates.

She has to cook or to arrange for food to appear. All this in addition to doing the cleaning or contracting to have it done – and to absorb criticism, unspoken or not, if the house is a mess.

Because men have not typically been involved in housekeeping or child-rearing, they may be truly unaware of things such as bathtub scum or the need to buy snowsuits before it snows (and preferably on sale). I’m also aware that some men do clean and care for kids, sometimes without being asked.

However, it is still an option for them. When they pitch in at all they get praised for being so “involved with the children” or so “helpful around the house.”

Meanwhile the wives, who pick up most of the load, have to smile and agree – or, worse, initiate the praise so that their partners will continue to “help” maintain the home and family that should technically be 50 percent of their responsibility.

Women have to choose

Why do men get away with this and why do women keep reinforcing it? Because we don’t have equal access to power at work or at home.

Men have been socialized to expect certain tasks to be done by others. Women have been socialized to make people happy and not to make a fuss. We don’t want to upset our partners by suggesting that they participate equally in the running of a household, so we pick up the slack.

The women Hochschild interviewed frequently spoke of feeling “lucky” that their husbands do any housework or child care at all. Yet the author notes that “husbands almost never talked of feeling ‘lucky’ that their wives worked, or that they ‘did a lot’ or ‘shared’ the work of the home.” Hochschild suggests that something is wrong with “the usual male outlook on the home, and the cultural world of work that helps create and reinforce it.”

Understand: I know that men may be caught in the same social trap. Maybe they want to be at-home parents but can’t risk the career suicide that can accompany that choice, or the subtle or overt judgments of other men/society at large, or are afraid that they would lose their identities in a blur of baby wipes and play dates. I am not saying this doesn’t hurt all of us.

What I am saying is that not only is it optional for men to be involved parents, it’s an anomaly worthy of praise. A man is not required to make such choices – and if he does, he’s some kind of nursery saint. But women have to choose. We must pick motherhood or career or an exhausting hybrid of both. We’ll be criticized and adversely affected no matter which path we take:

If we choose full-time motherhood, we lose status at the job and, possibly, most of our support networks.

If we choose full-time career we’re second-guessed by coworkers, pediatricians, pundits, our parents and (maybe worst of all) other moms. Will our spouses be judged? Nah. No one expects them to quit their jobs or put careers on hold.

If we stop working, our paychecks stop, too. Don’t underestimate the psychological factor of being dependent on someone else’s paycheck, and of being the at-home parent required to stretch that paycheck (translation: do without so that others can have).

If we stop working, our careers may derail. Ask the average man what being out of the workplace for five years would mean in terms of advancement and seniority. Ask if managers would question their devotion and commitment. And just for fun, ask if they’d like having to ask their spouses for money.

Always, always busy

My ex-husband never lifted a finger. When I asked him to “help,” he’d insist that he did do housework: He washed the dishes and made the bed.

This was a ridiculous answer. He worked from 2 to 10 p.m. and thus washed only the plate and utensils he needed to reheat the food that I’d cooked and left in the fridge. (We hardly ever had family-style meals.)

“Making the bed” was a matter of pulling up the sheets and comforter; nothing got tucked in or even smoothed out. Occasionally I would suggest that we come to some kind of agreement over what should be done around the house and split up the jobs. He’d become enraged, yelling that I was obsessive about housework and he wasn’t going to be told what to do.

Thus in 23 years of marriage he never once ran the vacuum, mopped the linoleum or cleaned a toilet. I can still see myself on Sundays, playing board games with my daughter or taking her roller-skating in between running loads of laundry, cooking food for the coming week and doing whatever cleaning jobs I hadn’t managed to finish on Saturday. That laundry, incidentally, got hung on wooden racks to dry because I wanted to keep the electric bill as low as possible.

And where was my husband? Lying on the bed for half the day, reading every section of the Sunday paper.

Time to step up, guys

You know what’s most delightful about DF’s approach to housework? He seems surprised when I express gratitude that he always does his share (and sometimes more than his share) around the house.

“Once a janitor, always a janitor,” he said today, referring to his first job out of college: overnight cleaning crew at a department store. An all-male cleaning crew.

Men: If you don’t already pull your own weight in the household arena, let me assure you that Pine-Sol fumes will not cause your testicles to shrivel. In fact, the opposite may be true: A study published in 2009 in the Journal of Family Issues indicated that the more housework a married man or woman does, the more often he or she is likely to have sex with his or her spouse.

More to the point: Your wives/girlfriends are neither your maids nor your moms. They are your partners.

Readers: How do you handle indoor and outdoor chores? Do you delegate tasks or just sort of take turns?


51 Comments

  1. We work together, but not side by side. I might be pulling weeds while he does dishes; I cook the meal, he cleans up after us, etc. He does the snow removal while I watch from the window.
    Your first marriage sounds much like mine. I never knew life could be so great until I met and married my second husband.
    How do you use the whey left from making yogurt?

    • Donna Freedman

      I make oatmeal with half water/half whey and I add it to soups and stews (there’s some of it in the kale/sausage soup). At some point I’ll probably use it for breadmaking; keep forgetting it’s in the fridge.
      And ditto on the “never knew life could be so great.” We’re both lucky.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  2. Your DF is awesome. My husband is also awesome.

    And, as a mom, I would like to note that my son is awesome and able to do more chores all the time. I am also not his personal maid.

  3. There’s an interesting article (“The dame shame”) in the NY Post today critiquing Sheryl Sandberg’s view in her new book that women aren’t advancing in the workplace because they don’t find “true partners” to help with housework. The writer argues that the real reason there are fewer female executives is because men haven’t caught onto this and don’t pitch in enough!

  4. Great post. I would like to achieve domestic contentment. Is there an update to The Second Shift? I envy you and am so happy for you.
    My ex never put a sheet on the bed or made a bed. And, “you had the children, so they are your job.” Need I tell you there was no equality, nowhere near it. I need to write a book. I promised my sociology teacher I would.

    “Where is my DF?”, I ask myself.

  5. Hi! I think I read some articles of yours at GRS but I just found this blog. Just wondering – what is a DF? Have a nice week.

    • Donna Freedman

      It’s short for “Dearest Friend,” the only name by which I will identify my sweetheart. Here’s more on that:
      http://donnafreedman.com/2013/02/14/midlife-love-rocks-ask-me-how-i-know/
      Thanks for coming over from Get Rich Slowly. Hope you stay awhile and browse.

      • sScooze

        Thanks! Enjoying it thus far. Also, on this topic.. my sister is the breadwinner in her family and her husband stays home. She had to train him to actually manage the home. He used to just play with the kids and tinker around like any typical Sunday. Now he gets that he has to manage the family schedule (which is packed), buy the girls’ clothes, etc. Its not just about cooking dinner. She has outsourced everything he isnt good at. I think she still manages the family and he follows her direction. At least he does the tasks assigned.

  6. Wow, another great read. I’ve been married 30+ years, and to this day, my husband does stuff around the house when and if he wants. Was there for the conception of our children, but not so much for the rest of their lives. And then wonders why he doesn’t seem to have much of a relationship with them. I tried to raise our kids to make them realize this isn’t how successful relationships work…

    • Donna Freedman

      I hope the lessons took hold. One of the things that does cause me a lot of anguish is the fact that I exposed my daughter to such a poor relationship model: What she saw was that women do everything and men do what they want. Oh, and that they emotionally and psychologically bully their wives to get their way. Sigh.

      • We do the best we can, given the circumstances. Please don’t beat yourself up.

      • Girl, we did the best we could at the time. Lots of us take years/decades to figure relationships out.

        And not everything is our fault. One of my grown sons has not made wise decisions about his life, although I feel he had a warm, sensible upbringing.

        Honestly, at some point, I have finally decided they are HIS decisions.

        • Donna Freedman

          And they are.
          If he decides to start making smarter ones, he has his background upon which to draw.

  7. We’ve delegated house chores based on preferences for the most part. For the tasks we both aren’t fans of we suck it up and just split it.

    Growing up both of our families had us take care of things around the house, male or female. Being a single parent, my mom simply couldn’t do it all so we all had turns preparing dinner, including my baby brother. It’s something I didn’t truly appreciated until I got married. I’m very happy that my husband was raised to do his share around the house. Thank you MIL!

  8. Interesting post.

    My father used to say “there’s no such thing as women’s work and men’s work: there’s only work.” He used to mop the floors, haul the garbage, and do the laundry.

    On the other hand, I recall going to a dinner party at the home of one of my former husband’s law partners. His wife had worked herself so hard fixing an elaborate dinner and cleaning the house herself (why she had no housecleaner was not explained) that she’d lost her appetite and couldn’t eat. Her little jerk of a husband sat there and refused to dump the ashtray, because, said he, that was “women’s work.”

    Realistically, men are unlikely ever to share housework 50-50 in any consistent way, across our society.

    IMHO, the real issue is that the work of maintaining a home, raising children, and supporting a marital or domestic partner is so massively undervalued as to be regarded as worthless. Women resent having to do all the housework and child-rearing not so much because it’s such hard work as because we, like everyone else, regard it as sh!twork. Unpaid sh!twork.

    So does the larger society. Try to collect Social Security if all you’ve done during your life is bring up several children to successful adulthood, maintain a house and property, nurture and care for a man in and out of bed, support his career by performing as his social secretary and PR lady through high-profile volunteer work, care for aging parents (yours and his), budget for and supervise the feeding, clothing, and entertainment of a household, and take care of the spouse in his old age.

    Women’s pay in the workplace is lower than men’s because women’s work in general is undervalued.

    • Donna Freedman

      It’s valuable only if someone has to be paid to do it, apparently. Case in point: I used to transcribe interviews for my ex’s books (regional publishers) even though I had some RSI issues after working all day at the newspaper. Several times over the years I’d try to bow out but he would erupt that we “couldn’t afford” a transcriber.
      After years I finally said, “I cannot do this” because I hurt a lot and had to start wearing a brace at work. He finally hired a transcriber and guess what? It cost a lot of money! Not so much that it would make him consider doing his own #$#@! transcribing, mind you. Before that, though, it was OK to expect his partner to give up hours and hours of her already minimal free time (during those years I had a busy freelance life concurrent with my full-time newspaper job plus the house, the kid, the snow shoveling and doing household maintenance/arranging for it to be done).
      Like I said to Andrea: Still working through the bitterness.

  9. This is something my husband and I have struggled with through the years, and it’s still occasionally a bone of contention. He was raised by a neat freak who knew no one would ever clean the “right” way, so she did everything. That means both my husband and his sister are complete slobs who expect their houses to be magically clean.

    Hubs and I would go rounds about this, partially because I’m not the world’s greatest housekeeper and he had certain “standards” he expected, even though he has never been able to maintain those standards himself. It was bad enough before we got married that I seriously considered ending things over the imbalance.

    But, it’s gotten better. Mostly because I’ve changed my attitude. Instead of feeling like “why should I clean up after this ungrateful so-and-so,” I started remembering that I feel better when the house is clean, and I’ve been trying to take care of the house in a way that would make *me* feel good. Because I am always taking care of things, my husband has started stepping up, because he knows I expect the kitchen to stay clean because I clean it and because it’s nicer all around that way.

    We’re still nowhere near 50/50, and that’s a damn shame. I love my husband with everything I have and I know that he’s a great guy and a great dad, but he was severely handicapped by his childhood. I just hope that my son will learn good habits from me and not assume things should be a certain way because of how they are between me and hubs. I’ll definitely be holding my kid to a higher standard, and I hope that will be enough.

    • My DH and his brothers have a similar handicap. Fortunately, DH and I share similar (um, lax) standards, and I really think the job he had as a janitor taught him what it takes to keep a place clean.

      When I talk with my sister-in-law about how little DH’s brother helps around their house, I am shocked. But I can see where it comes from – their parents clearly think no one else can do housework to their standards, so they did (and still do) it all.

      We’re already showing our toddler son how to pick up and tidy things, and he’s not yet 2. :-)

      • Donna Freedman

        Good for you! Every kid should know how to take care of himself/herself from the start. It’s harder to retrofit this kind of behavior.

  10. Ro in San Diego

    My husband doesn’t help as much as I would like. I recently was fortunate to have found a wonderful cleaning team that comes in once a month for a decent price and I tip them heavily. They do the chores I can’t do or don’t have the time/energy to tackle. The house practically shines and twinkles when they’re done.

    My husband and I are both happy with the results, and I’m not killing myself or stressing over my dirty house.
    helps with dinner and that’s something. I don’t particularly care for BBQ but that’s his contribution and that’s dinner so he doesn’t go hungry on those nights I go “on strike” in regard to the evening meal.

    We’ve made the compromises that work for us. After 29 years with him I don’t expect any changes anytime soon.

  11. I would probably still be married if my husband had helped around the house. (Okay, no I wouldn’t, but that’s a whole other story.) He was very fond of telling people, “I do all the cleaning around here,” after which I would reply, “Then WHY is the house always such a mess?”

    Somehow I was supposed to work, attend grad school, take care of our son, cook, clean, grocery shop, etc. while I had to hire someone to mow our postage stamp yard because he wouldn’t do it. All that while he worked third shift and went to bed each day at 2pm (right before our son got home from school) and slept until 10pm, effectively missing any opportunity to spend time with us OR do any household chores. It sickens me to think about how many men get out of participating in real life and how many women kill themselves trying to do it all.

    I’m going to stop myself… This post made me so happy for you because you have found a real man who knows that relationships are comprised of TWO people, not just one. But it also makes me realize how very bitter I still feel, three years after my divorce. Hopefully it gets better with time like everything else.

    • Donna Freedman

      As you probably inferred from my post, I’m still a little bitter myself. Trying to work through it on the grounds that I shouldn’t give the ex any more rent-free space in my head.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment. Hope to see you at FinCon13.

    • Andrea, it will get better!! Just look at it as a learning experience. It took years to learn that I am somebody and, gradually, all bitterness and resentment was replaced by happiness and joy. Best wishes.

  12. Vin Daman

    Made the worn lino floor shine – dear wife said “why do you use Future on the floors? it looks so tacky!”

    Did all the laundry for a family of four – DW said “you shrank my jeans! AGAIN!”

    Cleaned the oven – DW said “you stank up the kitchen! Why didn’t you buy the low-fume cleaner?”

    Washed the windows – DW said “I can still see streaks on the glass!”

    Made the yummy dinners (after a full day at the office) – DW didn’t say anything. She was raised not to talk with her mouth full.

    Honestly, I get the points you are making, but when the gentleman “helps out” around the home, are you truly aware of your reaction and comments in response? Or is a perfectionist personality causing little unedited comments to discourage such “helping out” in the future?

    • Donna Freedman

      @Vin: I’m aware that some women criticize their partners’ housekeeping. Some say it’s a form of maintaining control. At times I think it’s just rudeness.
      I’m all for courtesy, myself. If your partner (male or female) stinks up the kitchen, open the damn windows already! Then say, “The oven looks great. Next time it’s my turn. I’m going to look for one of those low-fume cleaners so the smell goes away faster.”
      Example: Last week I tried making kale chips in the oven. I seasoned the raw vegetable well, forgetting that the surface area of the leaves would shrink considerably. The resulting product was waaaaaay too salty. I warned DF that they were inedible but he tried one anyway. Rather than spitting it out and saying, “God, these are awful! What were you thinking?!?” he suggested that we use them to season soup. Bless his frugal heart.

      • Have you told her this? Also, you might want to send her a link to moose-turd pie.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zb1qsVqjwg

        But seriously, sounds like you two need to communicate more!

        • Donna Freedman

          Communication! Yes, that. And not the, “Well, if you think you can do the windows better, then FINE!” variety. Sometimes being called out, gently and lovingly, will work: “I worked pretty hard on those windows so that our house would look nice. But I’m not perfect. Imperfect people sometimes leave streaks. Is there some reason you had to point them out to me in such a negative way?”
          Your wife may be repeating a pattern she saw in her own childhood, not realizing how hypercritical she sounds and how off-putting it can be. My own mom used to say things in all innocence that could be pretty hurtful: What came up came out. She got a little better about it later in life, when she began to examine her past — and when my sister began to point out, gently, that there was a better way to communicate.
          And again, control could be at the center. My mom had so little in her life that she could control that she kept a tight grasp on those few things she could direct. My sister had a comment for that, too: “You can be right, or you can be happy.”
          It wasn’t an ultimatum, but rather a reminder that she think about why she insisted that all visitors to her home in Florida eat dinner at 5 p.m. and that there could be no food served (or even prepared by the guest) at any other time. That rigidity had caused another sibling to stop visiting her for a while. Eventually my mom relaxed her standards a bit and found that the world wouldn’t end if an in-law made a sandwich at 7 p.m. vs. having a hot meal at 5 p.m.

          • If you’re going by scripts, the suggested script is pretty much what you told us initially, but using lots of “I” language instead of “You” language.

            “I would like to help out more around the house, but I feel like I’m incompetent when I work at it and it isn’t good enough. That makes me not want to help.” Maybe then adding, “I know this isn’t perfect and I need more practice, but it’s hard to practice.” or even, “I would do chores more if you praised me for doing them.”

            Another thing my husband and I do when we’ve done some chore by ourselves is proudly announce it and demand praise from the other. That’s totally kosher. Sure, some folks say you don’t deserve a reward for loading the dishwasher unasked, but I think we do.

  13. april yedinak

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I find nothing more attractive than a man who is a true partner.

  14. Awesome post Donna. It’s so nice seeing all these lovey-dovey posts from you :D

    Ok but to the point of the thing. Stallion and I have been together a year. We’re still ironing things out between us. I don’t feel we’re close to an equal distribution but it’s something to work on. My biggest issue is getting over THIS: “Women have been socialized to make people happy and not to make a fuss. We don’t want to upset our partners by suggesting that they participate equally in the running of a household, so we pick up the slack.”

  15. I have just three words for you Donna, “Sing it sister.”

  16. Melissa

    While I wouldn’t describe the division of chores exactly equal, my husband is responsible for the laundry, which is a big choir in a family of six that’s a big one. He’ll also do other chores uncomplainingly but I do have to ask. The children have chores appropriate to their ages, abilities, and need for cash, so the housekeeping duties are as heavy as they have been.

  17. Oh, Donna. I LOVED this post. Just this morning I was feeling the very exact way. AND I have a husband who does do more than his share. It’s the ‘expectation’ that they are all MY jobs that he is ‘helping’ out with that irritates me. I may just have to show my husband this post so that he will understand why I get so bent out of shape. :) !

  18. Lorrain

    Great post. I am happy that you have found someone who doesn’t expect you to do everything. My ex husband not only wouldn’t even pick up his own clothes when he took them off or even take his dishes out to the kitchen, if I dared to ask him to help, he would deliberately do worse, like buy bags of individually wrapped mini reese’s cups and lay on the sofa and eat them and throw the wrappings all around the room. I was working two jobs, taking care of two small children and expected to do all the housework and laundry while he worked only one desk job and laid on the sofa in front of the TV all evening because he was “tired”.

  19. Punkinpye

    When I was a little girl I would watch my mother slave from morning to night without my self centered, sexist father lifing a finger (she had seven kids). I also received a lot of lectures from her about all the things men don’t like in a woman, including being too smart. I loudly and vehemently declared that when I grew up, my husband was going to do just as much housework as I did. She laughed and frequently told friends and family that I was never going to find a husband. My mother was shocked when I did get married. Not only that, I married a man who truly cherished me and who always took equal responsibility for housework and child rearing. My mother became furious with my father and started heaping almost three decades of rage on him. For the first time, she realized she that everything she had believed about the roles of men and women was a lie. Very sad, really.

    • Donna Freedman

      Better late than never. But how much better “sooner” would have been.
      And oh, do I well remember those days of “Men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses” and “Reference books are never taken out.” The sad thing is, I did internalize those messages and am still trying to ameliorate their effects.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  20. I’ve ended many relationships for just that reason. You know what I’ve learned? No matter how much they do in the beginning of the relationship, it always disappears in time. I think 6 months was the longest I’ve ever had a man consistently do household chores. With the latest one, I have made it a point not to criticize and to praise for his “help”, but to no avail. If only there were a man out there for me that believed in a partnership and not “I need a second mommy!”

    • Donna Freedman

      I expect that mentality is common because we’re on our best behavior at first but ultimately revert back to our upbringing/socialization. That goes for the women, too: We tote more than our share of the load while telling everyone how lucky we are to have found someone so “helpful.”
      Don’t think that DF will change, because he seems always to have had the same attitude espoused by Funny About Money’s dad: There’s no such thing as women’s or men’s work, only work in general.

  21. i am embarrassed to admit that my DH does a lot more than I do, though I do many tasks he hates (all finances, all shopping, most cooking). I do thank him profusely–every day.

  22. Donna, enjoy your lovely, considerate DF. He sounds wonderful!

  23. Thank you so much for posting this article. I was just having this argument with my boyfriend today. I asked him to clean the litter box. One simple task and I got a lot of grumbling. Is it that hard to not only pitch in when asked, but to pitch in just because you live there too? He sees the cat litter boxes every day like me. Why doesn’t it occur to him that they need to be cleaned? So frustrating.

    And for the record, I know your article was about women having to choose between being a full time mom or a career woman, but the career woman option you gave didn’t mention the women who choose the career INSTEAD of motherhood. We are looked down upon because we chose not to have children. I’ve been told that maybe it’s better that I don’t have children because I wouldn’t make a good mom. Ouch! How would they know that? I’m not their mom. Men can make that choice without feeling like less than a man.

    Thanks again! I love all your articles. You are lucky to have found someone who shares the work.

    • Donna Freedman

      Women who choose not to have kids are second-guessed all the time. It’s really no one’s business when/whether someone chooses to procreate, but the whole world is waiting to weigh in, it seems.
      Maybe when people say stuff like that to us we should turn it right back on them: “What? Why in the world would you say something like that? You’ve never seen me around children. What gives you the right to make a judgment like that?”
      People sometimes just say whatever comes to their minds — and often, they’re just parroting stuff they’ve heard all their lives, e.g., “If you don’t have kids, who will take care of you when you get older?”
      Think it through, folks: How many elderly people end up alone anyway because their kids can’t/won’t take care of them?
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

      • I couldn’t agree more. The birth rate in this country is declining – what do you think might happen if men actually pulled their weight at home? Maybe more women would feel confident that having kids wouldn’t be such a burden.

  24. My husband is a true man the way your DF is. He’s the stay-at-home parent, so he is certainly pulling his weight in the domestic duties. Most evenings I come home to a cheerful toddler and dinner baking or bubbling away in the kitchen. Many days there’s even clean laundry. It’s wonderful. Over the years we’ve learned what we each prefer to do (I like fiddling with the finances, he enjoys grocery shopping) and what we both hate (poopy diapers – but who loves that?) and we make it work.

    But you know what? His first job was as a janitor, too. For three summers he worked the 4am to noon shift 6 days a week, the sole janitor at an ice cream shop. Perhaps every man should spend some time in the custodial trade before he seeks out a mate!

    • Donna Freedman

      DF said that cleaning the women’s rooms kind of destroyed his romantic notions about what women were like.

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