Last Saturday -- warm and sunny -- was a perfect day to get those last outdoor chores out of the way before winter descended on us.
So I rented a chainsaw and went to work on the buckthorn that stubbornly continues to erupt in our back yard. My husband spent the time cleaning out the cars.
Chainsawing has become my wifely duty, mainly because I'm the one who cares about eradicating buckthorn. The first time I rented a saw, a couple of years ago, I was nervous that I wouldn't be strong enough to control the machine -- without slicing off one of my feet or fingers. I was game to try, but slightly annoyed that my husband wasn't rising to the manly challenge of battling invasive species.
But as I've gotten more comfortable wielding a chainsaw, I've also found it increasingly satisfying to buzz through unwanted shrubs in a fraction of the time it used to take with a handsaw.
When I was finished Saturday, my husband offered to return the saw while I treated the freshly cut stumps. When he got home, he was chuckling. "The guy asked me how it had worked for me," he said. "I told him I didn't know because my wife had done all the work. He just looked at me, raised his eyebrows and said, 'How'd you manage that?'"
The comment got me thinking about household chores, who does what and why. Apart from my chainsaw fetish, our division of labor falls into pretty traditional patterns. He mows the lawn. I do the cooking. He does more of the shoveling and raking, while I do more of the laundry. We've never really planned or even discussed this chore allocation. It just sort of happened.
The icky chores that neither of us likes, say cleaning the bathroom or the refrigerator, are the ones we tend to share and tackle together.
The "chore wars" got a lot of press back in the '90s, when worn-out working wives were urging their hubbies to step it up on the homefront. But years later, many of us are still grappling with chores and gender, judging from recent studies.
One study earlier this year claimed that couples who share household chores are more likely to get divorced (!)
And another found that women, on average, spend three hours each week redoing chores that their husbands supposedly "completed."
What's the story on chores in your household? Who does what -- and why?