Discover more from Empty Mess
Or The Competition of Life
“He’s not a team player,” we said at exactly the same time. Jinx!
My friend and I were referring to my husband. We were talking about the well-known fact that most women—and that would include us—do the majority of the chores around the house. You may remember that Jennifer Aniston movie . . . I think it was called The Breakup. She had this great line when she said to her husband, “I want you to WANT to do the dishes,” to which he replied, “Nobody wants to do the dishes.” Maybe he’s right. Nobody wants to do the dishes, the laundry, or any of those other household chores.
As girls, we learned the role of household team captain from our mothers and grandmothers. For most of my childhood, and until I got married, Mom would load us kids into the station wagon and we would drive to Grandma’s house. We made this three-hour drive for every major holiday. Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma, and the Aunts would busy themselves in the kitchen for most of the time. I don’t remember what the men of the house were doing, but it was clear that Grandma was in charge.
All of us kids—that would be my brothers, cousins, and me—spent our time outside, crashing through the woods or rolling and sledding down the hills. I now know that Grandma encouraged us to play outside so we wouldn’t get the house dirty.
When the weather was bad and we had to play inside, we played board games. Imagine that! We didn’t watch TV, play games on the computer, or sit with our phones—there wasn’t any of that.
One of our favorite board games was called Life. The game pieces were little cars that held pink and blue pegs representing people. When it was your turn, you’d “drive” your car along the path of life . . . going to college, getting a job, getting married, buying a house, starting a family, taking a vacation. The object was to fill your car with a family and accumulate the most stuff by the end of the game. One thing you didn’t do while playing the board game of Life was household chores!
When the kids were home, the idea of our family being a team seemed to make more sense. There were four of us, and we turned the household chores into a game. One of my favorites was “Two-minute Tidy,” where you set the timer and everyone cleans up their space at full speed for two minutes. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in two minutes when you turn it into a competition. And we’d sometimes put slippery socks on our feet, turn on the music, and slip-and-slide around the floor, mopping like mad. Anything you can set to music seems like a game and not a chore.
It’s more difficult to have a team of two. Maybe we can think of ourselves as a relay team. I’ll start the washing machine and hand off the clothes dryer to my husband. He’ll start the vacuum and hand off the mopping to me.
Everything is more fun when we do it together . . . when we are each a team player.