It seems to me that the number one complaint from all my very wonderful, capable and highly organised girlfriends isn’t that they wished they had Jennifer Anniston’s hair or Kate Middleton’s wardrobe or the body of a supermodel. Nope their number one complaint, to a woman, is that no one else in their house clears up after themselves.
That stairs are magical, making anything placed on them (for later transportation up the stairs) invisible everyone, except the woman of the house;
That houses left clean and tidy when my friends go to work, are like bomb-sites when they return tired and weary after a long hard slog at the office;
That they are treated as a living, breathing search engine, “Mum where are my trainers?” “Have you seen my homework/car keys/phone/gerbil (delete as applicable, list is infinite). That we know the satellite position, or have the intel of the last known sighting of every single item in the house. Information that can be recalled quicker than a Google algorithm;
That no one realises that clothes don’t wash, dry and iron themselves;
That if the men folk do decide to cook every ingredient is in the store-cupboard ready for them, as if Jamie Oliver’s food porn team have been to prep for them before (and then use every pan in the house). The rest of the time we have to respond to “Mum, what’s for tea?” and come up with an answer that would satisfy the harshest foodies, your own kids. Masterchef critiques hold no fear for me, (although I don’t like Paul Hollywood from GBBO – he is really creepy, and I quite like a soggy bottom myself and undercooked pastry with custard is divine!!, sorry just had to get that off my chest!).
All this puts me in mind of that old joke,
Woman “I wish they would invent something that restocked the fridge every time something in it ran out”
Male colleague “Oh I have one of those already. It’s called a wife!”
Well I am putting it out there right now. I would like a wife! Working full time, raising two kids, I need a wife. I want a wife. Why can’t I have a wife! Husband and children are great but they just make more mess and don’t see what needs to be done. I am fed up trying to be the entire staff of Downton Abbey, from Carson to Daisy and everyone else in between.
Another friend of mine tried to get her son to do some cleaning up, she even bought a book to show that other children tidy up after themselves…. the response. The boy just laughed and walked away!
Confession Time! I do have form in this area myself. I can remember all too plainly my despairing mum telling me the story of the little red hen. She even bought me the book.(Nothing really changes does it!). If you don’t know the story of the little red hen I will quickly recount it now. She asked for help from everyone in the farmyard and everyone refused her, so she worked all alone. When she had finished she had a beautiful feast prepared and everyone wanted to help her eat it. And she refused them and ate it all herself. She was a tough old bird, no one helped her so why should she give them anything?
Could this be why mum = skivvy because we don’t refuse our children enough! Harry is now at high school, and we have been sent home with booklets about not doing anything for the child that they can do themselves. To get them into good practice for independent learning. To let them do things and let them learn by their own mistakes, in essence not to keep stepping in and saving them.
Well it’s just so hard isn’t it. Besides the fact they are your flesh and blood and it is fundamental to our core to protect them from hurt and pain, there are the practicalities of life. If you are rushing to get a young child to school, you help them get dressed so they are not late. When you want the reassurance that your child has everything for high school, it’s a comfort to you to help pack the bag isn’t it. And sometimes us women just like things done our way don’t we? Like getting everything into the dishwasher so it all fits, just so. It is just much less hassle. Men may further along the autism spectrum with their collections and fixations but I think women lead the way in OCD behaviour (let’s not get into my inability to let washing sit in a machine after the cycle is finished. it’s not pretty).
But this is so like a woman isn’t it, to turn it back on ourselves, to give ourselves the blame, that our children treat us like skivvies because we let them, that it is easier and quicker to do the jobs ourselves. So I am not going to do it. I am going to make my stand, I am going to play the interactive you tube clip of the Little Red Hen to my children, (I know my audience) see if I can lure them away from their playstations and tablets. Failing that I am just going to hide their chargers! I will let you know how I get on…. you will probably hear the howls of outrage across Yorkshire.