Chores are chores whether you split or share them

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller share the same small house (still), work in the same office (again) and somehow manage to cling to their sanity (barely). Older and wiser (she's wiser, he's just older), the Southeast Missourian sweethearts offer their views on everyday issues, told from two different perspectives.

HE SAID: It wasn't the climbing up and down the stairs that wore me down. It was the folding. Oh, how I hated the folding.

At our house, we long ago decided to divide our chores. Sharing them just didn't work for us, most likely because I did far less housework than my cute and pregnant wife, who doesn't do a whole lot of housework herself, God bless her.

About the time her back started hurting, we switched our responsibilities and she started doing the dishes and I started doing the laundry. Oh, how I hated the folding.

I didn't keep up with the clothes throughout the week very well. It seems every time I was ready to do a load, Callie or I was getting ready to take a shower. Starting a load of laundry while someone is in the shower is a mean trick in our house. I did it once when I was mad at Callie, a very horrible thing to do. She just yelled at me some more, although I thought at the time that if she's gonna yell at me, I might as well deserve it.

While Callie's back was hurting, I did my best. But clothes mounted in the bedroom, especially on weekends when I spent most of my time on major handyman type of things. Many times I would only wash and dry the clothes and leave them in laundry baskets in the bedroom where we would spend a half hour every day digging for socks and underwear. Oh, how I hated the folding.

But Callie's back is much better now. And after all my grumbling, pleading and begging, my wife let me take over the dishes again. What a relief that was. She's a good gal, that Callie. Totally didn't deserve that whole shower thing.

SHE SAID: Ever see that episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" where Ray purposefully does household chores poorly to get out of doing them? Sometimes I think Bob took that plot to heart. When he was doing the laundry (which was especially nice because I have a separated AC joint in my left shoulder that needs surgery and in general renders one arm useless) I would find socks in my sweater drawer. Underwear with my tank tops. My shirts in Drew's closet. Drew's pants with my T-shirts -- you get the picture. After three-plus years of cohabitation, I wondered, how could he not know where my clothes belong?

Finally, I offered up the big switcheroo. I would handle the laundry if he would wash all the dishes. That was about two weeks ago, and I haven't found the silverware in the same spot twice. The glasses are on the wrong shelf in the cabinet. I never know where to look for the cutting board. It makes cooking a Where's Waldo search.

And more often than not, the dishes I do manage to find are caked with grime that the dishwasher didn't clean properly. Rinse, Bob, rinse!

I know a lot of wives will say I'm lucky to have a husband who pitches in. And I am; I really am. But if he does do the chores half-heartedly on purpose (I'm still not sure), then he's in for a surprise. I'm no Deborah. It really doesn't bother me to dig through a laundry basket for socks. And if I pull a cup out of the cabinet with a milk ring in the bottom, I just toss it in the sink for him to wash again.

And on the rare occasion when the frustration builds to the boiling point, I just wait until he's in the shower and turn the kitchen sink on (get it, boiling point! Sorry; bad joke).

For those who missed it, we're having a boy, by the way. I plan on teaching him the proper way to rinse dishes and fold clothes as early in his life as possible. Decades from now, some woman will thank me.

Bob Miller is the Southeast Missourian's managing editor. He likes his job because the only thing he folds is paper. When she's not searching for socks or silverware, Callie Clark Miller is the managing editor-online and special publications. Reach them at bmiller@semissourian.com or cmiller@semissourian.com.

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