His & Hers: He does this, she does that

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller use this space to offer their views on everyday issues.

SHE SAID

Bob and I fall into that traditional marriage trap. We each feel like we're respectively carrying the load of household responsibilities. Phrases like "Why am I always the one who ..." are a regular part of our dialogue.

There are some things, like dishes and laundry, that we distribute in a relatively equal manner (60 percent me, 40 percent Bob). And then there are the less obvious chores, the little things that make our world go round.

For example, I am rarely the one who uses the last of the toilet paper in the bathroom, but I am always the one to refill it. Once, frustrated by yet again finding an empty roll, I hid all the toilet paper from Bob and just took a roll with me from my secret stash every time I went in. Unfortunately, that did not have any lasting impact.

Finally, this week, after our 15th conversation along those lines (culminating in Bob complaining that he's always the one who has to haul heavy boxes upstairs -- dude, I'm six months pregnant!) I decided enough was enough. So I said, "Let's just make a list of what we each do around the house and see who does more (insert evil wife laugh here, please)."

Then, to complicate matters, I decided we should also write down what we each perceived the other contributed to the household workload, since neither of us seems to think much of what the other does around this dump. The only rule was that it be something we do at least 90 percent of the time.

Here's my list of things I always take care of on my own:

Packing Dawson's diaper bag, paying the bills, cooking/baking, cleaning the toilet, making Dawson's doctors' appointments, buying Drew and Dawson clothes, sanitizing Dawson's bottles, vacuuming, restocking the toilet paper, throwing away the junk mail, hanging up our coats, throwing away Bob's socks with holes in them, packing the suitcases to go out of town, removing the clothes hangers that pile up in the bathroom, making sure the portable phone batteries are always charged, giving Dawson his medicine, emptying Diaper Genie, mailing birthday cards, buying gifts, refilling the baby wipe warmer, washing bed linens, handling federal/state income tax returns, refilling soap dispensers, picking Dawson up from day care, clipping Dawson's fingernails, cleaning the high chair, picking up Dawson's toys

And here's my list of what Bob does on a regular basis:

Taking out the trash, vehicle upkeep (oil changes, etc.), ice/snow scraping and shoveling in winter, moving furniture, cleaning litter box, feeding/watering cats, hanging pictures/photos, changing light bulbs

HE SAID

Here's what I missed on my list for Callie:

Cleaning the toilet, making Dawson's doctors' appointments, buying Drew and Dawson clothes, restocking the toilet paper, throwing away the junk mail, hanging up our coats, throwing away my holey socks, packing the suitcases, removing the hangers from the bathroom, making sure the portable phone batteries are always charged, the Diaper Genie, refilling the baby wipe warmer and washing the bed linens. She did not put on her list the following that I noted: coming up with things for me to do and interior decorating.

My score for her: 44 percent appreciation rate.

Now, here's what she missed off of my list:

Recycling (we just started this two weeks ago, so she doesn't think it counts yet), washing the cars, making runs to the post office and city hall, building furniture, hauling in the groceries, moving furniture, pumping gas, feeding Dawson in the morning (anywhere between 5 and 6 a.m.), deep cleaning the kitchen, hooking up electronics and food runs. She noted on her list that I shoveled snow and ice, but as that's a once-a-year occurrence I had not considered it.

Her score for me: 39 percent appreciation rate.

It's clear by our experiment, and numbers don't lie, that I appreciate Callie more than she appreciates me. Her list is 27 items long. Mine is only 21. It's also quite clear that her list is much lamer than mine (is phone battery checking really a chore? She enjoys shopping anyway, and I know it must be excruciating work to throw away junk mail). But what this very scientific study does not account for is that Callie, indeed, does more stuff than I do around the house. Then again, I work more hours at the office.

The best thing about doing this list is how much fun Callie and I had putting it together. We had a great time poking fun at each other. Now, if you'll excuse me. I've got to go on a food run. Why am I the only one who ...

Callie Clark Miller is the Southeast Missourian's special publications managing editor responsible for roughly 20 monthly and quarterly publications throughout the year. Southeast Missourian editor Bob Miller is responsible for the paper every day. Reach them at cmiller@semissourian.com and bmiller@semissourian.com.

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