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I Like To Mow

My grandmother on my father's side was a home economics teacher. My mother wanted to stop working to be a homemaker even before children came along. I have a friend who positively glowed when she glanced over at her husband one evening and said she enjoys homemaking. Her glance was filled with quiet contentment, her tranquil satisfaction evident that her efforts directly ease his life and create the home environment they desire for themselves and their children. It is a beautiful thing.

I somehow missed this gene.

I always planned on having three to four children, and I have been incredibly blessed to have them, currently ages 10, 6, 3 and 1. But along with children, comes a household to manage, toys to be picked up, dishes to be done, floors to be cleaned, laundry to be washed, groceries to be bought, food to cook, craft supplies to be put away and a never ending interaction and attempted organization of all the additional items that enter one's life with the advent of parenthood.

My children appear to have a theory, and they are skilled at carrying it out in practice, that approximately every one square foot of space should have some item in it. This happens quite frequently, where within minutes of clearing off counter space or a room that is in need of organization, they move right in with their latest game or project to fill it. These photos were taken recently, and while it may look like I did not lift a finger that day, I vaguely remember that I took the photos because I had been cleaning almost all day, then looked around while cooking dinner and was overwhelmed by the appearance of my home.

I like to mow. It is satisfying making row overlapping row, watching the slow progress cross from one side of the lawn to the other. There is a moment of completion when it is finished, everything looking fresh and new. Once the mower is put away, there is contentment knowing that it won't be needed again for another week.

Washing dishes remains completed for a few seconds at most. Someone somewhere in the house has forgotten until immediately after I start the dishwasher and rinse and put away the wash basin that they had a drinking glass sitting out or a bowl from yesterday in the other room.

Laundry is, well, it is never done.

The next meal is forever looming for preparation or someone will want a drink or need a snack, even if dinner was completed ten minutes prior and they were "full" then but suddenly have room now.

My one year old has perfected removing books from the bookshelf. Her favorite time for this hobby is immediately upon the final toy in the room being put away.

I like to mow. I like to pay the bills. I like to vacuum. I like to sweep the front walkway outside. I don't mind taking out the trash to the curb for pick up day. I enjoy cleaning our car.

My preferred "meal prep" is eating fresh fruit or a slice of cheese.

I have not once, not once, ironed a shirt in my adult life that I can recall.

I do delight in the feel of a clean, organized home. It is delicious to sit down in a freshly cleaned room, looking around and feeling my home is cozy, comfortable and beautiful. But this delectable moment occurs only after the kids have long been asleep in their beds. The moment they wake up it seems someone has changed and flung their clothes on the bathroom floor, another on top of the shoes in the closet. One has stuffed three purses and bags with a random assortment of dolls, sticky notes, toys, coins, game pieces, sunglasses, chap stick and more, which she will cart around throughout the day and leave a piece or two here and there throughout the rooms. One of them has begun eating, making her meal and leaving evidence of each stage of its preparation strewn along the counter.

Life explodes in every direction when the house awakes.

I knew this all came with the decision to become a mother, especially the decision to become a mother of four. However, I would like to make a few comments about how all these household chores are done.

Here is my husband mowing as a proud homeowner for the first time two years ago:

Scroll back if you would, to look at the previous pictures on this post, after a day seemingly filled with cleaning and the results I had to show for it.

I know there is much debate and discussion still over which tasks are the "woman's" and which are the "man's". But I believe it is essential for each partnership, relationship or marriage to determine this uniquely for themselves. Trash those cultural norms and expectations, throw out the biases and assumptions you are bringing from your childhood or what you subconsciously imagined your spouse would take on and figure these tasks out anew together. Your sex does not determine which household chores are yours to take on.

Simply because you are a woman does not mean that dishes, laundry, cleaning up after and feeding the children should be solely your tasks. I stand firm on this whether you are a "stay at home" mother or not! Clearly this is especially true if you are both financial providers in the home.

If what you are providing for your family by watching the children and caring for the home is easy or nothing compared to your spouse working to provide income, then it should be nothing to also take on some of those easy tasks outside of work hours. And if what you provide IS challenging and tasking and draining at times, well then you also need that hard earned break that THEY need from their paying career, so they should still take on some of those tasks outside of work hours.

You are a team. Talk, grow, learn, ask, give, take, and act that way!

I firmly believe that one reason my parents' marriage is strong and by all appearances happy, even while approaching 42 years of marriage, is the fact that they frequently spend a portion of their evening hours washing and drying the dishes together. Neither needing to be grateful because the other is "helping" them with their task. Neither feeling put out because they are being dragged in to help the other. They simply face, together, a repetitive, mundane, never-ending household chore and get it done so they can both relax.

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1 Comment

I just read your blog post “I like to mow” and your comment about ironing brought back memories for me and we were only balancing one child and one working parent. Anyway, I quickly adopted the philosophy that “if an article of clothing needed to be ironed then it needed to be given away!!”

I still remember my mother-in-laws first visit. When she asked if we had an iron, my wife and I looked at each other before telling her that we had one somewhere but we had no idea where it was!!

I love your writing—even when it makes my stomach hurt just a little while sympathizing with the amount of work you have on your hands!!

Jim T.

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