I hate household chores. But it wasn’t until a bundle of joy and terror, otherwise known as my daughter Sia came into my life eight months ago that I discovered what actual housework actually is.
My wife never nagged me to do household chores but when the baby was born we set new rules. I took over front of house, which included taking care of the household chores as well as the cooking, while my wife took over back of house which was keeping our baby daughter alive.
I also tried to help as much as I could on the newborn stuff, like changing nappies, rocking her to sleep and taking her out for walks to give my wife some rest. I jokingly referred to myself as the ‘can you? guy’ as every time she spoke to me that is how she started each sentence.
Doing those household chores and helping with the baby made me feel pretty good about myself. In fact I thought I was SuperDad for the amount of effort I was putting in. But after taking time out from patting myself on the back I discovered just how much work my wife did around the house and how previous to our daughter’s arrival how slack I was.
Growing up my mother did all the household chores and like most Greek Australian Xennial boys I was also mollycoddled
When I got married I was on easy street as my wife did most of the household chores. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t just sit on my backside the whole time. I was working and studying for my master’s degree at University and sometimes I would pop my head up and do the dishes. Most of the time I took the rubbish out and now and again I would surprise my wife by cooking dinner and making breakfast. But there was certainly no equal division of household labour.
To justify my laziness around the house I would often say her, ‘that it’s not about doing an equal share, it’s about how much the next generation of men do now compared to what their fathers did.’ Which in my case was 500 per cent more as my dad did virtually nothing when it came to the division of household labour. She of course never bought into this argument.
Growing up my mother did all the household chores and like most Greek Australian Xennial boys I was also mollycoddled which meant I became a mummy’s boy who lived at home until I was 37.
Meanwhile, the Greek Australian Xennial girls I knew grew up being treated much stricter than the males. Not only didn’t they have the same freedom as their brothers, and other Greek Australian males their age, but their mothers also taught them to be a good nikokira (Greek for housewife). In fact my wife who is Greek Australian told me that her mother would often say to her, “you won’t find a husband unless you are a good nikokira.”
So when I moved in with my soon to be wife I thought I had struck gold, I was living every Greek man’s fantasy – not only had I found the love of my life, she was also a traditional housewife.
Greek boys weren’t taught how to “pitch in” and “help out”
How did I become like this? I can attribute this lack of willingness to help to a) I never offered and I was never asked; b) when I did do the chores they were never up to a normal person’s standard so she did them anyway; and c) Greek boys weren’t taught how to “pitch in” and “help out”. Growing up I only did the chores once I saw my mother walking towards me with a newly cut branch off the tree.
I also learnt this behaviour from my dad who not only didn’t do any housework, he certainly did not help out with the baby stuff. My poor mother raised three kids virtually on her own.
So it was this comparison that wrongly led me to believe my own bullsh*t like: “If I am better than my father then that’s good enough, right?” I’m sure this is horrifying to hear especially from the women’s perspective but this was the culture and still is. Obviously the opinion that it’s not about doing an equal share it’s how much the next generation of men now did compared to their fathers is not what I believe now. If it was, I would be divorced!
But since our daughter was born I’ve had no excuse. While I could always do more around the house, the division of labour is much closer to being equal. In fact, these days I have been known to do things without even being asked!
Unlike my father, my daughter will see her dad attempting to pull his weight and if she does live with a bloke in the future he will have no chance of using my dodgy excuse because hopefully the next generation of men won’t be like me.
Con Stamocostas is a freelance writer.