I’m grateful to have a husband who pitches in not only in terms of caring for our kids, but doing things around the house. That said, the bulk of our household chores still falls on me, and it’s not just because I happen to be home during the week. Even on weekends, when chores are conceivably up for grabs, I end up doing most of them. And while I sometimes get a little bitter or crabby toward my husband about that fact, I recently realized that he actually isn’t to blame for his lack of participation.
Rather, it’s my fault he doesn’t help out as much as he could, and it’s all because of The System.
That’s right. Like many people I know, I have a system. A system for putting things away. A system for doing laundry. Heck, even the fridge has designated areas for specific items, and if you dare put the yogurts where the tofu packages normally sit, there’s a good chance I’ll go ballistic.
Just the other day, I had several baskets of folded laundry lined up in the hallway, and my husband generously volunteered to help me put it all away. Only instead of saying thank you and accepting the help, I shooed him away. The reason? He doesn’t know The System.
Fleece outfits go in a separate drawer than cotton outfits, and play clothes are stored apart from dressy clothes. Meanwhile, long-sleeved t-shirts go in a different spot than short-sleeved layering tees, unless those short-sleeved tees have cute graphics or designs on them, in which case they go someplace else. And, oh yeah, since I’m the only person capable of distinguishing “cute” t-shirts from those that are more run-of-the-mill, there’s no real way for anyone other than me to know where to put them.
I’m the exact same way about groceries. If you buy the wrong cereal brand, it’ll bother me for days. Get the wrong salad greens, and you’ve officially made my sh&t list.
Because of The System, I’ve been referred to as anal, insane, and both, often in the same breath. But I don’t care. The System is what helps me maintain some semblance of order in an otherwise chaotic household. The System ensures that if I’m rushing out the door on a random weekday, I’ll be able to reach into a drawer and find the right clothing item, or grab what I need from the fridge in a hurry. (And, to be fair, when you’re dealing with young children whose willingness to consume different foods can suddenly change without warning, buying the wrong brand of anything can spell the difference between them eating a full meal or initiating an all-out hunger strike.)
And sure, I could try teaching my husband the ropes (I have, in fact, attempted to do so in the past), but the problem is that The System is constantly evolving based on everyone’s needs. And there comes a point where it just doesn’t pay to sink time into training someone to do something you can accomplish more efficiently yourself. (Side note: Back when I worked in an office, the one thing I often got dinged on during my performance reviews was my failure to delegate. So it goes.)
At the end of the day, I know I can’t have things both ways. But right now, I think I need The System more so than the help. And so I’m officially letting my husband off the hook when it comes to lending a hand. As long as I know that he’s willing to pitch in, that’s enough for now.