I have just come to the horrible realization that the second wave of feminism would not have happened if it had been dependent on me for existence. This vagina owner just cleaned the entire house (as much as physically possible), despite being laden with an extra thirty pounds of fetus accessories and with a left sciatic nerve that has been screaming in pain for the last three days. I have been limping from the couch to the bathroom, but I am still the one who swept, mopped, vacuumed, folded, loaded, unloaded, scrubbed, organized and dusted. I let the penis-porter off the hook and stepped into the age-old female stereotype – willingly, despite my resentment and annoyance.
I have always known that domestic labor is difficult and worthy of appreciation, and I’ve had it reinforced many times over. Being born with a vagina meant that my personal enjoyment of babies was encouraged from an early age, eventually evolving into a career as a nanny, keeping up everybody else’s home, including cleaning and childcare. I know how to do house work. I can hear when the crumbs are so thick that they stick to the bottoms of every footstep, I can see when there’s a full load of laundry to be done, and I can tell when there’s enough clutter that anyone stepping into the space will wonder if there is anywhere safe to sit. Anybody who has seen my house knows I’m not a neat freak, but for the love of everything unholy, having clean towels and hand soap available is not a super high standard to meet.
Many partners of many genders consider figuratively strangling their house partner for being slobs, and being pregnant has made this my current reality. I’m not very employable with this huge belly, so I am the current domestic. Add to this that I don’t want to spend money at cafes or on other activities, that I am often exhausted and that I am currently having wrenching back pain, and I end up spending a lot of time in the house. While Partner is off at his challenging and praiseworthy job, and when he gets home with different priorities than I have – a love of doing taxes instead of rinsing dishes and a messy obsession with electrical, drywall and power tool work – I am forced to confront that I cannot currently participate in the physically challenging or money-gathering tasks, no matter how much cooler they seem than folding the laundry. If I want to contribute as a partner in a peer relationship, all I can really do right now is take care of our house in as many ways as I can.
It doesn’t sound unpleasant to sit back and let the baby dictate laid back days where I work on my own projects on my laptop and only do the chores that don’t hurt my loosening ligaments. I could let go of some of the chores and relax my household cleanliness standards to better take care of myself. But it just got cold enough outside for a mouse to realize how much warmer our house is than the backyard. The mouse hasn’t done anything truly heinous yet, but when I found a teeny tiny mouse poop on the couch where I was about to sit after visibly hobbling in pain, Partner peered at it and went back to his laptop. I got out the fabric cleaner and scrubbed the poop spot and then vacuumed out the half nest that had developed in the living room storage. He is concerned when I drink half a beer or stumble on a low step, but actual rodent feces on the surface where I am stuck in pain doesn’t bother him? Simply relaxing to his standards is not an option.
I could approach the topic of housework with him again, but we’ve already discussed the footprints across the floors, the food hardened onto the pots he uses, the moving boxes full of clothes that turn our bedroom into his closet and the mess on the dining room table that has become his office. If I ask about these things repeatedly, do you know what that makes me? Annoying. Petty. A nag. Somebody who doesn’t choose my battles very wisely. Somebody who doesn’t just take care of things when they bother me. Somebody obsessed with house appearances. Somebody who isn’t contributing to this family monetarily so I better find some way to keep myself busy. Who needs to write a novel or rest sore body parts when I could be reworking the same chores I did yesterday despite the same ache?
How much of a hero can anybody expect their partner to be? It’s not really fathomable for a real human being to deal with co-workers all day long, to take care of his own priorities at home and then to also completely cater to the household trivialities of a pregnant partner. It truly would not be very considerate of me to downplay how much pressure he is under. It would be disgusting to not deal with the mouse who wants to be our roommate. It would demoralize both of us to nag constantly about unglamorous chores that constantly need to happen. So I will carry this alien, I will pick out and order the implements that it needs and I will shake the rugs even when my back is killing me. Until it happens to be time for my career to get back on one of the freshly scrubbed burners. I’m pretty sure that my turn will come around again.
Thank goodness that women’s suffrage and the feminist movements weren’t depending on me for action, because I am sadly admitting that as a domestic uterus user, it’s my job to suck it up right now instead of demanding anything more than he has to offer.