I caught up with an old friend last week, with whom I hadn’t spoken in years. The last time we hung out our biggest priorities were making the rent and making it home before sun up. They were crazy, hazy days. We were fueled by big dreams and diet coke and assumed that somewhere along the line, everything would just work itself out. Quite unexpectedly we both become gainfully employed, and quite involuntarily grew into tax-paying, early-rising, child-raring adults. As the years rolled by life took over and our friendship was reduced to Facebook likes and congratulatory texts upon the births of children and the gaining of better gigs. She never struggled for gigs, but I heard her marriage failed, and that she was now a single mum to three gorgeous and clever kids.
She raised the topic of her singledom last week, and checked the credibility of her sources on my domestic situation. “Is it true your husband is a house husband?”
I recognised the look of envy on her face. “Yeah, he is,” I began, but before I could go any further she blurted the inevitable, “I neeeeed a house husband!”
Now please don’t misunderstand me, I am grateful to my husband for the love and care he gives our kids, and for the freedom I have to pursue my career, but yesterday, when he placed a box of barbecue shapes on the coffee table, next to a bowl of cheezels and called it “lunch”, it was a great example of why I always say that I don’t need a house husband, I need a wife!
A man will always operate like a man, no matter if he’s middle-aged and caring for small children, or 18 and living with six other 18-year old men in a two bedroom flat above a Chinese takeaway. A house husband will wash the clothes, but they’ll never make it to a drawer, they’ll remain in the “clean” basket on the laundry floor until they are worn and transferred back into the “dirty” basket beside it. HH’s simply have no need for drawers. The HH has no need for face washers, mops or tissues either, he has a tea towel. Tomato sauce is his signature vegetable, X-Box bans are his most powerful punishment, and the bath tub has no place in the lives of his children.
It’s so frustrating. I work like my Dad did, but he came home to clean floors, clean kids and a meal on the table. My mum even prettied herself up in anticipation of the brave hunter’s return to the cave. Nobody’s getting pretty for my return, I consider myself lucky if everyone in my cave is wearing pants!
None of my complaints convinced my exhausted old friend, or a lesbian bystander who assured me that being one of two mums wasn’t a passport to parental bliss either. What to do then? Well, I suppose I could appreciate the fact that my relationship has survived the introduction of twins and the withdrawal of rest. I could have a go at being a bit more helpful around the place, I could pretty myself up occasionally, stop complaining and start imagining what my life would look like without the loosey goosey I married so long ago. My lovely old friend would settle for someone like him I reckon. Perhaps I should give it a try.
Meshel Laurie is a comedian and broadcaster. You can catch up with her on Nova’s Drive Show with Tim Blackwell and Marty Sheargold 4-6pm on weekdays.
Who does most of the work around your house? Do you get any help from your partner or your family?