Whose job is it any way? This is a question I often ask myself when faced with a task I'd rather not undertake. Sometimes I ask myself this same question when I am doing something that I actually don't mind doing under ordinary circumstances. I will often wonder whether someone else will step forward if I bow out or what will happen if I just don't do it. In most cases the answer to the first question is a resounding "not likely" and "probably nothing" to the second. But still I wonder............
Like many American families both Glenn and I work outside of the home. This means we both get up each morning to head to our respective jobs. We are fortunate that we have a full time nanny who watches Sidney during the day and as such, this eliminates the need for us to get him up, dressed and out of the house in a timely fashion each morning. (I'm dreading the day when this task gets added to our already harried morning routine). Glenn works a full day while most days I spend six hours in the office before heading home. Technically my work day is over at two but in reality that means that my paid work day is over at that time. Usually I still have hours of unpaid work ahead of me. Some days this entails grocery shopping and running errands (never an easy feat here in Albania) while other days it means planning and preparing for one of our many representational events that we host in our home. The nanny leaves when I return home so spending time with Sidney is always a part of the mix. On rare lucky days this means playing, reading, and just hanging out; more often than not it entails his "helping" me with whatever task I am trying to complete. With a few exceptions, cooking a sit down dinner each evening is always on the agenda. Even if we have an event to attend I still make sure there is dinner on the table for Sidney. I enjoy cooking so most nights I don't mind being in the kitchen experimenting and creating but there are some nights when I just don't want to do it. But if Mamma doesn't cook, the family doesn't eat. Or do they?
Is cooking really my job? Is it Glenn's job? Is it the responsibility of both of us? Deep down I feel as though it is all mine. Right or wrong, because I only work part time I feel as though taking care of this aspect of the house is my responsibility. The same goes with meal planning, shopping, and making sure everything we need is "in stock" in the house. (Perhaps I would feel differently if I was working, and getting paid for it, on a full time basis). I justify this by thinking that because Glenn is working more hours doing more critical work than I am, I need to step up and take over the responsibilities in the house. But where do my responsibilities end? If I end up working until five then who is responsible for putting dinner on the table? If I don't feel like cooking are we relegated to cold cereal or leftovers for dinner? Am I ever off the clock? Or for that matter, is any parent ever off the clock regardless of the number of paid or unpaid hours they work each day? I used to think that once Sidney was out of the infant phase of not sleeping through the night the wee morning hours would be responsibility free. As fate would have it we've transitioned back into the not sleeping all night phase so at the moment even these hours have been stolen from me.
I found myself thinking about the division of labor this weekend as I prepared a sit down meal for nine for the working lunch Glenn hosted this afternoon. Glenn had rearranged the furniture and set the table according to my specifications. As I spent all day Sunday chopping carrots, baking mini cheesecakes, mentally compiling to-do lists and contemplating which dishes to serve from, I thought about how this meal wasn't for my family; rather it was a part of Glenn's responsibilities for work. And then I left work early today to make the final preparations and serve this lunch before returning to the office to complete my paid work day. Is this a part of my job responsibilities as well? Maybe, maybe not but I am the one doing the cooking because my churning out the food in turn supports Glenn's job. And supporting Glenn and his job is a part of my job just as he supports me and my work. It isn't always easy but for better or worse, it is all a part of what makes our household work.
I know that I will continue to take the lead in making dinner each evening. After all, for me cooking good food is a way of showing my love, but sometimes I wonder how far that love extends. Does it extend to Glenn's business colleagues or do I cook for them because I love Glenn? It is definitely the later. Over the past several months we have gotten into a routine where Glenn cleans up if I do the cooking but many nights as he is washing those dishes I feel twinges of guilt. After all, he worked all day; but then again I did too. Perhaps I need to get over these feelings of guilt and enjoy the division of labor we share in Household Brown. In reality I suspect we have a pretty equitable division of labor. Thanks to both of our efforts everything that needs to get done does. Can you say the same for your household?
As an added bonus, because of our leftovers from earlier today I'm off the hook for making dinner tonight. And I might even get Glenn to do both the reheating and cleaning up!
In honor of Glenn, who more often than not, washes the dishes each evening