I got up early yesterday to pick up dog poop in the backyard before I started getting ready for work. I knew that yesterday was my chance to take the dual compost tumbler that I’d spent all Sunday assembling in the living room outside and finish assembling it. (Assembled, it’s 85 lbs and would not fit through the doorways.) We’ve been forecast for rain today and snow tomorrow for awhile, and yesterday was clearly my window. And I was pretty sure that the composter needed to live in the dog poop zone.
I went to work, ran errands over lunch, and came home. I knew I needed all remaining daylight to finish the assembly, and that I had to leave for choir practice 30 minutes after the sun set, so I suggested to my mom that I put some leftovers in the oven for dinner.
She made a face. “I can’t think of leftovers I’d want to eat.”
I don’t mind cooking, as a rule, and I would prefer that she enjoy what she eats. But she knew all the things I needed to do yesterday (except about my starting my morning picking up dog poop.) Also, all the leftovers were things made on her behalf or that she ordered in a restaurant, or that I picked up for her. They’re all her leftovers. If she doesn’t want to eat them, nobody does (the dog will eat anything except green beans— we’re not counting him.)
I approached it from another angle— she consented to hot dogs and canned chili with her leftover cheese enchiladas (I don’t consider it a meal, but she does.) Sold. I got it underway and moved the composter outside. It was drizzling, but I’d done what I could do inside already, so I sucked it up and finished assembly outside, finishing just after sunset. I got dinner on the table I set 25 minutes after the sun set, wolfed my dinner, got her set up with a TV show she wanted to watch, and went to choir practice late.
When I got home from choir practice, she told me that she’d spotted a dead mouse in the garage when she’d gone to get the mail (the clear implication was that I needed to dispose of it.) I walked the dog. When I got home from walking the dog, (now 10 p.m. and a full 15 hours after I started picking up dog poop), I took the trash that she’d removed from the can but left on the kitchen floor out to the trash can. I emptied the car of the things I’d picked up on my errands over lunch. I searched out and found the carcass and disposed of it. I turned my attention to the dishes in the sink (mom went to bed) and the leavings of dinner that had made it back to the kitchen (I had grated cheese and diced an onion) but not been put away. As I rinsed the dishes I wasn’t going to wash by hand, I noticed that she’d rearranged the dishwasher. And I lost it.
Granted, I sat at work during the day and I sat at choir practice, but as far as I could tell, my mom’s contribution to our household yesterday was going to the mailbox, noticing a carcass for me to attend to, and rearranging dirty dishes in the dishwasher. From the time I got home from work until 10:30 p.m., of the time I spent in or near the house, I sat for the less than 10 minutes that it took me to eat the dinner I cooked. And I know my mom congratulated herself on correcting my tragic dishwasher loading.
The animals are mine, and I accept responsibility for their waste removal. I also accept responsibility for walking and feeding them. The composter was my idea (I’m responsible for all exterior maintenance), not hers, and I accept responsibility for assembling it.
Rearranging the top rack of the dishwasher? Not a contribution to the household. I had a roommate once with whom I had a deal for 1:1 chores. I came home from working overtime one night to be told she’d spent 45 minutes feather-dusting the 10×10 living room, so I owed 45 minutes of chores. The thing that 45 minutes feather-dusting the living room and rearranging the dishwasher have in common? They’re both crap. They’re a pretense of effort, and they’re a lot about superiority. And if you think I’m snowed by it, I’m also offended by your assessment of my intelligence. Do a real chore, and in the absence of that, at least throw the onion that I chopped for you into one of my clean plastic containers, available because I consistently load and unload the freaking dishwasher.