I don't like being a housewife.
There, I said it.
Don't get me wrong. I love being a stay-at-home mom. I love being with my son all day, the close relationship this helps us have, and the way I'm the expert on his needs. All that is what I stay home for.
I didn't stay home to do housework. Sure, I do it. I don't do a great job. I keep us all fed, clothed, and more or less clean. But I don't enjoy it.
Oh, the chores themselves aren't so bad. They're no harder than many other jobs I have had. It's the endlessness of it. The way I can spend an hour washing a mountain of dishes, and by the time I'm done, we're hungry again and I have to make more dishes. The way I can never really relax because there's always something I should be doing.
And it's so easy to get resentful. It's tough, especially if you're the more outgoing spouse, to wait all day for your husband to come home so you can talk to him, only to find he's been dealing with people all day and just wants to be quiet. Or to have him come home and put his feet up after a hard day's work just at the moment that your job is getting its most stressful, what with dinner to make and bedtime to handle. Or to see everyone you know relax on a weekend, while for you it's just one more day where people need to be fed and clothed.
There are different ways to look at it. You can see it as a vocation. But then every time you need to ask for help with the dishes, you feel like a failure at your vocation.
You can see it as a job. But it's a kind of awful job with no pay except the privilege to continue doing it, plus the occasional word of gratitude. And then, every time you aren't thanked on schedule, you feel like your pay is getting docked.
You can see it as just trying to keep a tidy house because you like to live in one, and doing the lion's share because you happen to be home more. That's my main approach. But then you get angry when no one else does what you consider to be their share. And you don't feel like you should ever have to ask. No one asks you to make dinner, please - you just do it. So how come other people can walk through the kitchen, comment on the dirty dishes, and then just leave them there? You feel everyone has the responsiblity to pitch in and do an amount of housework proportionate to the amount of time they spend in the house. But, of course, they haven't got the memo and don't know what you might consider proportionate. They might not even know what needs doing, not being in the thick of it like you are.
It's a pretty powerless position. There isn't always any solution to being overwhelmed, tired, lonely, and behind on the dishes. But then, the husband can be in a bind, too, in many ways. If he has higher standards than his wife's (as mine does), and he thinks things ought to be cleaner, what can he do? He could do it himself, but he's so busy outside the home he hasn' t got the time or energy to do it all. He could nag and complain, but if she thinks she's doing her best, she's not likely to make a permanent improvement.
Either spouse is in danger of feeling jealous. The husband can complain that he never gets to spend as much time with his kids as his wife does, that he has to commute, and that he can't arrange his house to suit himself because he's never in it. The wife can reposte with her loneliness, lack of measurable accomplishments or appreciation, and inability to get out of the house or wear nice clothes. There are times when the other's job seems like a walk in the park. Meanwhile, both have to make constant financial sacrifices for life on a single income to work - and that can be a strain too.
A strong relationship can weather these struggles, but they definitely can be points of contention. Men and women have been arguing about them at least since the Industrial Revolution, and maybe since the dawn of time.
I do the housework because I want it to be done, because I want my husband to have a clean house, and because I'm the one on the spot to do it. But nothing has ever made it easy for me.