By default, I am the family member who does the majority of the cleaning in my household. And frankly, I can't stand doing it.
It takes a full day to really make a difference, and the more I clean, the more stuff I find that needs to be cleaned. By the end of the day, I'm inevitably tired, cranky and extremely thankful that I don't have to do it again for two weeks.
In addition to those sentiments, I also feel like I live with four of the messiest people I know.
So, one day, I decided to ask my husband for help.
“Can you clean the bathrooms if I clean the rest of the house?” I asked him.
I saw his face sink as he turned to look at me.
“Sur-r-r-r-e-e-e,” he said slowly.
“Thanks,” I responded nonchalantly. “It's just getting a little overwhelming doing it alone.”
Then I smiled sweetly at him and walked away before he could change his mind.
From that point forward, my husband cleaned the bathrooms. I could not have been more relieved. It cut my cleaning time in half, and (conveniently) also cut out the most repugnant part of the routine.
But …underneath my appreciation, I couldn't help but feel somewhat justified in no longer having to handle the chore. After all, I told myself, I wasn't a messy person. In fact, most of my duties were actually to clean up everyone else's mess.
Since my husband and kids contributed more to the bathroom mess than I did, then it stood to reason that my husband would clean the bathroom. Right?
“Not necessarily,” a friend responded with a laugh as I explained my logic to her over lunch. “I know a lot of husbands who wouldn't do that.”
“I'm not saying I'm not lucky,” I responded. “I'm just pointing out that it's not me who makes the mess in the bathroom.”
She laughed again and gave me a knowing look.
“Well, it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it!” she said.
She was right — and I was just glad it wasn't me. My husband and I continued on our respective duties, both of us accepting of our chores. Until one afternoon, when my husband came out of the bathroom looking somewhat horrified.
“What?!” I asked with genuine concern.
“You tell me!” he responded exasperatedly. “Tell me what exactly is on that bathroom counter!”
I peeked inside the room and looked where he was pointing. A blob of lip-gloss had landed on the counter and had accumulated a little bit of dust. OK, a lot of dust. I had to admit, it looked pretty bad.
I stared at it with amazement, knowing I was the guilty party, but with no recollection of when the incident had occurred. What I did know is that if the roles were reversed, I'd be pretty steamed. I looked back at my husband sheepishly.
“Um, sorry…?” I offered tentatively.
He looked back at the mess, then back at me.
“Just remember this little occurrence going forward,” he said with a pointed look. I nodded solemnly and turned around before he saw a smile start to escape my pursed lips.
Feeling somewhat vilified that my husband had felt my pain for a moment, I mentally owned up to the fact that maybe I did contribute a little bit to the house mess.
And that maybe it would be a good idea to refrain from complaining about my household duties — at least to the man who cleans the bathrooms.