Housework as Hostility
Have you ever done housework as an act of hostility? Have you ever wiped down kitchen counters with a barely simmering rage at either the person who was supposed to do the wiping or at the person(s) who made the mess? Have you ever folded laundry so sloppily and so angrily that you might as well have not folded it at all? Have you ever been completely overloaded, inundated, and buried in housework you've left undone for ages while resenting someone else for reminding you that you haven't done it? Have you ever stubbornly refused to so much as pick up one single thing off the floor because you know you won't even make a dent in the drift of JUNK invading every surface and corner of your home? Have you ever thought dark, nasty thoughts about the people who create this work for you, even though it is your lot, even though you signed up for this, even though you really, in the grand scheme of things, don't have it so bad?
Of course you have. Because whether or not you have children, whether or not you have a partner, if you have EVER done any housework of any kind, I feel convinced that you must have had these feelings. This is what I tell myself.
In Like Water for Chocolate, Tita is forced to make the wedding cake when her sister marries Pedro, Tita's beloved. Tita sobs into the batter as she mixes; when the guests sample the cake, they all fall into the same weeping and nausea Tita felt while making the cake.
Will my family, when donning the clean but barely-folded clothes that have been angrily stuffed into drawers, feel the barely contained rage and hostility I felt while doing the laundry this morning, done for no other reason than that I had been called out for not doing it sooner? Will they feel the resentment someone who feels overworked and underappreciated when they eat off the dishes that were flung into the dishwasher without being rinsed? Will they hear muttered curses whispered in their ears when they sit on a sofa that has been angrily cleared of the kid debris that is constant, unending, and overwhelming?
I live in Richmond with my husband and two kids. I write daily professionally and not often enough for myself. I run a small communications consulting company that specializes in content and thought leadership: www.thrivecomm.com.
Sarah has taken classes with Valley.