When a man washes up = heroic. When a woman washes up = ?

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First published in the Portsmouth News, Tuesday 23rd September 2014

When a man completes a domestic task such as washing up, it seems he is then classified in terms that border on heroic. Congratulations are heaped upon him and a small Mexican wave may take place, performed in jubilation by the other members of the household.

When a woman does the dishes, the cleaning, the tidying, the meals, the ironing, the dog walking, the school run, the finances, the shopping, makes the beds and scrubs the loo, she gets not even a mention.

Of course, I speak in terms that are generalisations, but I don’t think I am far off the mark. I would say that my husband is very good around the house, but why do I even think in these terms? He should be ‘good’ – he and the kids contribute to the mess; why should it be assumed that I’ll clear it up? I’m not aware that ovaries trump testicles in the Best Floor Sweeping stakes.

It seems insane that I should be ‘grateful’ to him for performing a domestic task because why on earth shouldn’t he? Why should it be assumed that these are my domain alone? I’m not a stay-at-home mother (I once was, but even that does not equal ‘slave’), I go to work, and then I work from home.

Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t expect congratulations: he’s as baffled as I am. Though I note that he still basks in my praise when I senselessly heap it upon him.

Yesterday, I got up at 6.45am (an hour after him), and put the washing on. He washed up, fed the kids, put the bins out, and left for school at 7am. I proceeded to wash up from breakfast, make the lunches and clean the sink and surfaces. I then dried the dishes and cleaned the downstairs loo, before quickly wiping over the oven.

After this, I ran the hoover over downstairs and mopped the floors. I opened my laptop at 7.45am and sent two work related emails.

At 8am the girls and I went upstairs to get ready. At 8.30am we left the house and my friend, Lenka, took the girls into school for me. I cycled to the school where I teach part-time and managed to get my photocopying done before my lessons began.

I taught until lunchtime, cycled home, and walked the dog to the shop to buy milk. Once home I cracked on with paperwork and exam entries. I then planned and resourced some lessons, before noticing it was nearly school run time.

I got the girls, completed more work, filed some admin away, and fed the children whilst popping a chicken in to roast for later. I peeled veg, washed up, dried and then took the kids up for a bath and put the washing away.

I then ran a duster over downstairs, put the veg in the oven, and at 7.15pm my husband got home. I await my Mexican Wave with bated breath!

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