Last week, we ran out of tissues in the bathroom. We didn’t run out of tissues in the whole house, just in the box that sits on the back of the toilet. Since I am prepared at all times, for almost any situation that may arise (also sometimes called a hoarder), there are usually at least five backup boxes of tissues in the basement.
This isn’t a secret. All of the people who live in my house know that we have an entire wall of backup supplies in the basement. Tomato paste, rice cakes, dog biscuits, coconut water, stain sticks — you get the idea — there’s a plethora of household necessities at our fingertips. Which is why I found it so perplexing (or rage-inducing) that the empty box sat in our bathroom not for a day or two, but for an entire week.
It’s not that no one needed a tissue in that time. I watched more than one of them reach past the empty box to unroll some toilet paper for nose blowing. It’s not that I hid the spare tissues. The shelf is wide open and honestly, it’s tough to hide nine boxes of tissues even if I had some bizarre desire to do so. And it’s also not that no one is capable of walking down the stairs into the basement to retrieve said box. We are all (blessedly) healthy and able-bodied. It’s not even that they’re obstinant and refused to get a fresh box after being asked repeatedly. No. It is very simply because no one asked them to.
The Today Show recently shared a comic strip about the “mental load” that, statistically, falls on women to manage and how it’s sucking the life out of us. (I may have paraphrased a bit.) The premise of the thing is that no matter whether the woman works full-time or not, she is usually in charge of the management of the house as well. Things like making the doctor appointments, making sure there’s always toilet paper in the house, arranging the children’s schedule, etc. At no point does the comic suggest that men do not do things. In fact, it points out that, statistically, men work more hours outside of the home in paying jobs. No one is bashing men. In fact, it’s not bashing anyone. It’s simply pointing out that there is an entire additional — unpaid and exhausting — job that occupies tremendous chunks of many women’s lives, and we’re not talking about it.
However, when I started reading the comments (which I should never do — never), I kind of wanted to scream all the curse words. Because at least half of the idjeets who started tapping furiously on the keyboard clearly did so immediately after reading the title and not even spending six seconds reviewing the comic itself (shocking, I know). There were basically three types of comments.
The first were women who thanked the author for putting a name to something they have felt and had been unable to articulate. Some expressed their relief that they were finally understood and could use this to start a conversation with their spouse.
Next were the men who seemed a little defensive. Shakespeare once said, “The gentleman doth protest too much,” or something like that. These men were on a tirade about how hard they work around the house and spouting on and on about the equal division of labor in their homes and how women just like to complain about their lives. There is no doubt that the comic’s portrayal is not the case in EVERY home. What do people not get about “statistically”? Nowhere did I read, “every man in the world is this guy here.” I had to wonder why these men did’t just scroll past the article, content and secure in the knowledge that it did not apply to them. Instead, they jumped on their high horses and screamed down about how caring and helpful they are to their wives, while verbally abusing other women. Makes total sense.
And the last group was the female women-haters, my personal favorite. There is nothing like the scorn of a woman aimed at another woman to make you wonder about the survival of our species. There were super encouraging thoughts like, “You should get yourself a better man.” Or: “Who’s fault is it anyway if he’s like that? You should’ve trained him better.” And the most generous of all: “This is the life you picked. You should be happy your man helps at all and not be such a b*tch.” Now mind you, I am using much more articulate wording and grammar, but you get the general idea.
I was horrified, but not even a little surprised, by the responses. This comic was not a man-bashing. It simply spelled out a common situation that many of us women experience. No one was looking for sympathy. I don’t believe the author was husband-shopping, either. It’s like she tried to explain an algebra equation to a group of mathematicians and a whole bunch of other people starting screaming about how they don’t use algebra in their lives and how dare she expect them to scroll past without commenting on the grave injustice she is perpetrating.
So allow me to explain about my empty tissue box. I am not, in any way, suggesting that the people with whom I share a home do not help around the house. On the contrary, they are amazing. They wash dishes, by hand. They vacuum up pounds and pounds of animal hair. They even do laundry. And it’s like, hard-core laundry. We have no dryer so it’s like 1920 up in here, with clothes pins and drying racks and everything.
However, not one of these things is ever done without a request. From me. Everyone of them will walk right past their shoes, in the middle of the floor, but quickly put them away when I point it out. They are good people. They are hard-working and brilliant. They are loving and kind, generous and well-meaning.
But that doesn’t discount the fact that they just live in this house without a thought of the daily management. Not one of them has ever worried that we might be running low on toothpaste. Ok, that one might not be fair because we always have at least four to six open containers of toothpaste in the bathroom at all times. (Say what you want, but when the apocalypse comes, my people will be rocking fresh breath.) No one has to consider the coordination of schedules and make sure that everyone can get where they need to be, at the appropriate time, and then get back home. They don’t even mention when they almost finish the milk, even though picking up a carton with about four drops of milk in it when it’s the morning and you’re making the first cup of coffee might be grounds for murder. And every last pet in my house would actually starve to death if I didn’t remind these people, two times a day — every single day — to feed them.
For some of us women (and please, if this doesn’t pertain to you, feel free to move onto another blog about some other topic that does), our brains are never allowed to rest. We are managing a company, all the time, for free. From remembering at 11:23 p.m. that we need to call the plumber to fix the leaky shower to waking at 6 a.m. to text other moms about coordinating carpools for camp, we’re never off-duty. And it’s freaking exhausting.
I’m not asking for a medal. I’m not even asking for an apology from my people. All I want is for them to see the empty tissue box and not keep walking.
I gave in after seven days. There is now a full box of tissues where there once was none. Hey, I’m a work in progress, not a miracle worker.
I’ve considered doing away with tissues and going back to good old fashioned hankies. But you know what? Carrying around a pocketful of snot is gross. Super gross. But if you’re more tolerant than I am, here’s (http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Handkerchief) a super simple pattern for making your own handkerchief. And as an added bonus, wikihow uses photos and video! Have fun adding this to your “to do” list!
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