We watched, and loved, Dan In Real Life this weekend. Since I spent yesterday doing laundry, I was thinking about how the movie opened with Dan doing laundry. And in that way I (and presumably every other movie goer out there) immediately knew that he was a widower. It was a very creative plot devise – they never even mention his deceased wife until much later in the dialog. But we knew she was dead right away.
I am not saying that men never do laundry – John actually pitches in quite a bit. Yes, it is usually under duress (either verbal “requests” by his wife or the realization that he might have to wear sweatpants to work if he doesn’t), but he does do it. But even in those few families where the male head of household does most of the laundry, I bet they also knew immediately that Dan was a widower. Movies are nothing if not bastions of stereotyped characters, and the fact of the matter is, laundry is still considered women’s work.
Then again, I as a woman seem to have some superior laundry gene. When my husband does laundry, he never does it right. Sorting, water temperatures, soap combinations and dryer lint catchers all seem too much for him. I try not to nag, because I want him to do it. But I want him to do it my way. The right way. This, obviously, creates a leeeeetle bit of conflict in the Heartfull household. Words like “nag”, “control freak” and “well, duh!” get thrown about. That is why it is just easier for me to say “I’ll do the laundry, you cut the freaking grass – because everyone knows that the man is in charge of the grass…”
I redid my laundry
dungeon room a couple months ago. John had put up shelving along one wall for miscellaneous laundry supplies when we first moved in, but that was it. I covered a thick piece of 4′ x 6′ plywood with vinyl and set it on top of industrial shelving. I used the bottom two shelves from two sets so the resulting table comes up to my waist. Not exactly this, but it will do. I can store all kinds of things on the shelving – though the original intent was to keep four small laundry baskets on them – one for each child and a combined one for John and I. Finally, I plugged in a radio so I can listen to NPR while I fold. This very cheap set up has made a huge difference. I no longer have piles of folded laundry all over the house, I have enough room to fold and pile clothes according to type/owner, and if there is a good show on the NPR – I actually enjoy the chore.
Of course, unlike Dan, I’m not finding thongs in my girls’ dirty clothes. Yet. God help me the day I do.