OPTIONAL SUNDAY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Optional

After getting up a dozen times this morning to try and convince Bonnie to stop barking — which only something crunchy will accomplish, it would seem — I began to wish I was deaf, too.

Normally when I get up in the morning, I take out something to defrost for dinner but I decided today is optional. I’m not doing squat. I am tired. I’m frustrated. I don’t want to cook dinner, put away laundry, or clean anything.

I’m sure by tomorrow, I’ll manage to get past this, but right now, I am feeling as un-housewifely as I ever have. Am I the last woman of my age who cooks dinner — a hot dinner — every night unless I’m hospitalized? Do other people get a day off sometimes?

Is any woman married to a man who actually recognizes that dirt is not something to be ignored because you-know-who will take care of it, but actually cleans it? Just wondering.

So today in Optional Sunday. I will do as little as I can. I might even go TWO days and option Monday, too. I think I’ll call it “Marilyn’s Weekend.”

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

34 thoughts on “OPTIONAL SUNDAY – Marilyn Armstrong”

        1. Even “so many words” doesn’t help. He will promise me anything and then do exactly whatever he was doing before. Garry ALWAYS agrees with me. It doesn’t mean he REALLY agrees, just that he’d rather watch TV.

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    1. I got a bouquet of flowers. And of course, he bought dinner at the grocery. Cook? MEN DON’T COOK. It’s just that he’s not only a peripheral member of the family (why take care of that? Marilyn will do it!), but he’s getting downright grumpy and I’m getting pretty grumpy about his grumpiness. He’s even grumpy when I’m doing him a favor. I think it’s a guy thing.

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  1. No, you aren’t the last woman who thinks a hot meal (self prepared) is the ticket. But I’m from Utah, and not doing THAT (especially on Sunday) is akin to unthinkable. Utah women (including the coming generations) are EXPECTED to be ‘housewifely’…married or widowed or whatever.

    Yes. My sister-in-laws, but one in particular, is married to “Mr. Clean”. He’s not OCD about it, but he is the one doing the majority of the housework besides working a sometimes 60+ hour work week. I wouldn’t want to be his wife. He’s sort of an asshole about the fact that he works (full time) AND has to clean. But at some point she just stopped (not entirely, but immensely given how she USED to be). She has chronic depression (which my dear brother refuses to recognize as a real illness) and one day I think she just said “Enough is enough.” and began to do the bare minimum of house keeping. Whenever I’m over to their place for dinner or whatever, he’s in the kitchen cooking. He says it relaxes him. After dinner is done, he is in the kitchen scrubbing things and putting the dishes in the dishwasher and forcing his children (grown) to help. I think it’s a sort of family time for them, because he works so much and they probably didn’t see him a lot as they grew up.

    For myself? My mother was a mediocre house keeper. If there were dirty dishes in the sink for three days, so be it. If there was stacks of papers and clean clothes needing attention and all that, and they sat there for a long time, it didn’t bother her.

    So of course I grew up trying to be the exact opposite and when I was young (19 through my early 30s), my house was CLEAN. No dirty dishes, no mounds of stuff around, no dust anywhere. I got married and that was OVER. Hubby (may he rest in peace) was the biggest entitled slob on the planet. His mother took care of the ‘woman chores’ for he and his father and he got used to that. I doubt he ever picked up his dirty clothes without being nagged to the ragged edge. One day I came home from my full time job and looked around at the sad ruin of my house, and told him to get with the program. I worked as much as he did and to my way of thinking, splitting up the chores (or doing our part…like he’d would (theoretically) put his dirty clothes in the hamper and at least rinse off his dirty dishes, and I’d do the same for myself. Plus he wasn’t frail (at first) and doing the vacuuming once in a while wasn’t out of the picture. None of that happened, and over time I stopped trying too. I HATED the dirty house but it became one of the major battles of our marriage. A house that gets to that state means nobody wins. And now I’m mediocre, just like Ma and I don’t give two hoots either. I can please myself and if folks visiting don’t like it? They can stop visiting.

    The antiquated idea that housework, laundry, child rearin’, grocery shopping, cooking the meals and cleaning the bathroom (*shudder gag*..yay for maids) is solely ‘woman’s work’ is dying I think. We just got caught in a generational transition. The men of OUR era (50s, 60s, 70s) expected to be waited on. Because they were MALE and isn’t that supposed to mean they earn the bread and we wait on them? Phooey to that.

    One last thought: The male in that scenario cannot be changed. I know. I tried changing hubby for over 18 years (we were together for a time before we wed) and it was discouraging and a waste of my time. He never changed. Mindset and ‘nuture’ made those guys what they are. And who can argue with 50, 60 or 70+ years of conditioning? You just take care of YOU, do what you can, as you can and as you wish. It’s fully as important in my way of thinking.

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    1. My mother had help which I’ve always wished I had. Mainly, I wished I had a wife who would be me for me. She never really got into the housewife thing and barely coped with motherhood, but since she had three kids, she didn’t have a real choice. She wanted to paint, sculpt, design clothing. Ice skate. Bobsled. I suspect she got married because it was 1942 and that’s what women did.

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  2. Yes, you are entitled to a do nothing day, I’ve had my share. My husband is willing to do the cooking, cleaning and shopping, however we share the tasks. I like a tidy house and found it’s easier to keep a tidy house clean. Be well, Claudia

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    1. I used to do it all, but I can’t anymore and I never will be able to again. I seriously wonder what he’s going to do when I can’t do even what I already do. I thought learning basic cooking might save his life in years to come.

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  3. Of course you get to take a day ‘off’ … in fact, as a week has seven days, I suspect that you need to have three-and-a-half of them off! There is another person in the house with four limbs that function and a brain to guide them, who is perfectly capable of doing the same thing.

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  4. I’m there with you! It seems to go along with our generation. I know many younger men who assist their wives in the household chores, but it seems our generation think it is the “woman’s” responsibility and unless prodded with a cattle prod, don’t see the need to assist. That’s one thing the newer generation seems to have gotten correct.

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    1. Not only won’t Garry help voluntarily, but he has also managed to remain essentially ignorant of how anything is done. Even the cattle prod won’t help. I have to stand there and tell him what to do … and it’s easier to do it myself. I think that was the idea.

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  5. Of course you are entitled to a day off from cooking. David was always happy to cook, he enjoyed it and when I was working and he wasn’t he took over cooking and shopping for groceries. He’d do the laundry but he didn’t iron. He would make the bed (badly) because I would get mad at him if he didn’t but cleaning… Well, he just didn’t see dirt the way I did. Even if I could get him to vacuum it never seemed to look better and I am sure he never cleaned a toilet in his life. A friend of mine whose husband is one of the “grumpy old men” once remarked to me that our husbands were from the last generation whose mothers did everything for them. They managed to learn to feed themselves but that was about it.

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  6. Marilyn, it‘s not only a generational thing. My (much) younger Hero Husband also has ‚attitudes‘ – but contrary to his predecessor he never complaints much when there is no food prepared AND he always says Thank You for every meal I cook. He always tells me that it is ‚wonderful‘ and since he always eats everything with gusto, I think he means it…. But as for help – nada….. I also made my experiences that yes, ooooookayyyyy, if I ask 20 times, he does do a bit something but as you said, by that time I‘m so exhausted by repeating my plea that I‘ve done it several times over myself BUT I‘M ANGRY AT HIM and that‘s doing a disservice to both of us too. So, no solution can be offered and also: I have NO REMORSE saying ‚I‘m tired and/or not feeling like cooking anything – go and get yourself some bread, cheese and a glass of wine or tea yourself. Job done! 😉

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    1. Sandwiches are the last choice. I feel after the thousands of meals I’ve cooked, that one day I deserve to BE served. And actually NOT have to instruct the entire effort. By the time I’ve explained every movement in the kitchen, I could have done it twice myself and been less exhausted.

      It’s not going to change. He will promise change but it will stay the same regardless. It pisses me off so much that I feel this little rumbling anger a lot of the time. I thought by the time we’d been together for 30 years, it might have improved.

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  7. I saw a shirt while shopping this morning that said “Mornings should be Optional” which suits my feelings exactly! Maybe you need to get one that says”Cooking Dinner is Optional – I’m opting Out!”

    As for being generational? I think it’s more inherited. My Dad and Mum both used to work, but dad was a factory mechanic and Mum worked in retail so he always finished work before she did. He’d cook all the evening meals, and do vacuuming, laundry, cut wood for the wood fire water heater and all the ‘heavy’ housework like lawnmowing, repairs and other garden work/maintenance. I cook our evening meals, do laundry (not a lot of the ironing) help with vacuuming, take Mum to the shops and help with the groceries/banking/insurance etc.

    We share the load and do what needs to be done – each to our best abilities. maybe our family is an exception? 🙂

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    1. No. My son cooks. My father cooked. Many men cook and do it very well. But Garry’s father did NOT cook and his son seems to be trying very hard to copy dad. Why cook? Isn’t that how come I got married?

      Garry does the heavy things I really can’t do. He shovels and hauls groceries and all that stuff. The problem is the “taking care of oneself and others” stuff. Banking and cooking and cleaning and remembering that you do need to change sheets sometimes. I do all that stuff and that’s fine as long as I CAN do it. But what if I can’t? How will he manage? There’s just some stuff that’s really important and if you can’t do it, who will?

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