There has been a dishes standoff taking place in my house. Really, since about New Year’s. Both my husband and I broke down once to do the dishes, lots of dishes done angrily while thinking nasty thoughts about our spouse…but neither of us mentioned to the other one what we both knew was taking place.

And then last week, the standoff ended and a war of the dishes began!

“So, you were really busy today?” my husband innocently asked.

“Yeah. Super busy, back-to-back calls,” I replied.

“M-hm. And when did you pick up the kids?” he clarified.

“Noon. You know A has a half-day on Fridays…” – knowing EXACTLY where this was headed.

The truth was. Yes. I was home from noon to approximately 5 pm, just me and the kids. I’d been sick and working (I am a WAHM in the communications industry) all week and so when my 4-yr-old daughter crashed for a nap, I happily turned on hockey video games for my son and declared I would be upstairs in a HOT bath. And I did. I went upstairs, drew a turn-your-skin-red luxurious bubble bath and soaked in it listening to Pandora and ignoring the world.

No one barged in. No one asked me to wipe their bum. No one needed a snack. It was a rare, gloriously uninterrupted hour.

And that hour was followed by the normal whirlwind that is being a mom. I don’t know where all the time went, but it was gone. We played. We (read “I”) tried to pick up the tornado of toys that’s omnipresent in our house. And yeah, I checked a couple work emails and likely got sucked into Facebook at some point. And now here we were at 5 p.m., having a conversation that I KNEW was about the enormous pile of dishes overflowing the sink behind me.

I’m going to spare you a picture of the mess, because really – who wants to stare at someone’s dirty dishes? I don’t even want to look at my dirty dishes. If I did post a pic, bit would be some carefully staged stock photo that isn’t real. And I want to stay real.

I’m also going to spare you the details of the argument. Here’s the highlights: He got a promotion at work, he’s working longer hours. I’ve (me) had it good for a long time. Wait – WHAT?!?

Let me be clear that my husband has had exactly THREE (3) weekly chores on his list for forever: He does his own laundry, puts out the trash/recycle for pick-up and is responsible for the dishes. He’s also supposedly in charge of the yard work, but I bag an awful lot of pine needles – it’s more of a team effort in my mind.

My list, as you can imagine, is considerably longer. I let my grumpiness show and asked a series of questions we as moms typically only ask in our minds:

  1. You got a promotion, but my life hasn’t changed at all? I don’t magically need to not work and now you aren’t able to contribute “as much” at home? Why don’t we use your raise to pay for regular house cleaning?
  2. Let’s talk time management: How’s your cell phone and sports articles while I’m doing the bedtime routine with the kids. IDK – maybe that time could be used for dishes?!?
  3. This is Bull$#!! – YOU have it so good! It used to be all the pressure to financially provide for the family fell on the man and all the woman had to worry about was the kids and house. Now, I have to work too.

Let me pause…I know that having the choice to work is a blessing and blah, blah, blah. I’m not saying our grandmothers lived a glamorous life. But I do think that our generation is considerably more stressed trying to fulfill all the opportunities presented to us.

I’d love to write that my husband wrapped his arms around me lovingly and thanked me for the expert reasoning I provided and then started preparing dinner with one hand, washing dishes with the other. That didn’t happen. He looked at me, amused by my tirade, and then I did it…I was a martyr…I said, “Well, I guess I just need to add this to my list of things to do each day and figure it out…like I always do.” And that answer suited him just fine.

ARGH. I love my husband dearly. And I see how stressed out he is with his new role at work. And yeah, I would rather have him playing with the kids when he gets home than doing dishes. So, I gave in.

I did the dishes the next day…THREE LOADS OF DISHES. Plates. Bowls. Pots. Pans. Hot-Cocoa-Caked Coffee Mugs.  You name a dish – you can bet it was in my sink. Since then, I’ve stayed on top of the dishes – rinsing and loading immediately instead of piling in the sink.

And you know what…yesterday, while I was at hockey with our son…he unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher!!!

I noticed and said thank you, and his response was “we can tag team the dishes.”

We’re a team. And that’s all I want.

(originally published on 1/27/16)