A Day In The Life Of A Househusband
Field notes from a domestic battlefront.
I am a househusband. A dedicated soldier executing dishes, laundry, and occasional shopping with military-like precision. Pajama pants are my fatigues and 409 is my weapon of choice. Each morning I go over the battle plan with a steaming cup of black coffee that is strong enough to make a veteran truck driver’s face pucker because of its bitterness.
It’s 8:00 am. I craftily leap out of bed just after everyone in the house has left for work and school so I can go over the plan unbothered. Only the dog is by my side as I navigate through the jungle of domestic duties.
Today’s list: Bills, laundry, sweep and vacuum, this week’s meal plan, and of course dishes. Can I get this all done early so I can spend the afternoon lying on the couch, I wonder?
First, the kitchen counters. Whoever made breakfast this morning left a hell of a mess. Then the laundry. Let’s get this thrown in the washer while we’re drinking coffee, I tell the dog.
After I’m properly caffeinated I tackle the bills. Most of them paid online. They’re easy. I swiftly navigate through them like an intelligence operative tracking an international criminal on a high-powered computer.
Then I sweep the kitchen floor and fire up the vacuum cleaner. Always sweeping before vacuuming. Such is the standard operating procedure and I never deviate from the plan. The dog seems unimpressed.
Next, back to the laundry. I pull the clothes out of the washing machine and clean the lint catcher in the dryer with trained precision. I hit the start button in an emotionless manner. They will be done in 43 minutes.
Once noon rolls around the only things left to do are the dishes which I have avoided all morning. They are my nemesis and a worthy opponent capable of breaking a lesser man.
There are pots and pans and an insurmountable amount of forks, spoons, and other utensils, and one frying pan that has eggs petrified to the bottom and sides so much so it looks like it is encrusted with barnacles from a 17th-century Spanish galleon that has just been recovered from the ocean floor.
I consider for a moment that I could simply throw the pan in the trash. Maybe no one would notice its absence but then the thought of duty and my sense of responsibility to this little quarter-acre suburban nation-state I have created creeps into my mind and I know I must execute my mission before my wife and son come home.
Out of pride, I cannot and will not let them come home to discover that I have spent the day being lazy. Mindlessly scrolling through Twitter and writing pointless articles like this one polluting the internet with whimsical nonsense that will likely get me exiled by my own family.
No, that pan won’t stop me and I eat the proverbial frog, deciding to wash it — just to get it over with. The house is quiet and the only noise to be heard is the sound of me scrubbing the dishes with my matte-black-kevlar-like-ultra heavy-duty-men’s-dishwashing-gloves. I never bare hand the dishes. Just like a sniper always wears at least one glove when eliminating his or her target.
Once the dishes are done the end is in sight. I’ve almost completed the day’s mission outside of drying and putting them away. Perhaps I should take a break — I think to myself. Or I could dry them now and get it over with. There are tough decisions to be made in the heat of domestic battle.
I dry the dishes and place them in their respective places. I head to the couch. An infirmary of sorts for us househusbands. A place to lie down and de-stress after a trying and arduous morning.
I scroll through my phone and do a mid-day check-in with the wife via text. I lie on the couch until a mild sort of hunger sets in. It’s not a weak hunger, I must inform you. I could continue my lateral position if it was such. But this, however, is sufficient enough for me to get up and go into the kitchen to forage through the fridge for provisions.
Now obviously, I’m not going to cook anything. Especially after I just finished the dishes so lunch will consist of something unheated. Something I can eat off of a napkin.
Today’s lunch: A slice of bread with two pieces of swiss cheese and a little bit of mustard. Not dijon mustard. Nothing fancy. Just that bright yellow gas station mustard.
This isn’t cuisine, after all. I’m being lazy by refueling my body with just enough to stave off any hunger that may drive me off the couch later in the afternoon. The taste of the sandwich is awful if we’re being honest, and I eat it over the kitchen sink as crumbs and globs of mustard fall into the basin. I am a pig.
I refuse to do any more cleaning and spraying mustard and crumbs down the drain of the sink with the sprayer is as much as I want to tackle at this early hour in the afternoon.
And so It’s done. The house is in acceptable order and I am off to the couch to think about what I’m going to write today or decide if I am going to write at all.
The dog is ready for her mid-afternoon nap and she has climbed up on the couch beside me further convincing me to maintain my position of idleness.
An hour and a half goes by and I realize it is two o’clock. My son will be home from school soon so it is time to spring back into action. I can’t let him catch me loafing around. I head to the kitchen and open my laptop. It’s time to start writing.
I start with an idea and write 300 words. It makes no sense. I delete it. I start with another idea. Again 300 words and I’m thinking this is eff’n garbage.
Finally, I come up with an idea. This idea that you are reading now. I start to write and make a fair amount of progress but then… my son. I can hear him coming up the stairs in a loud clunky fashion.
He walks in and immediately starts talking — mid-story — leaving me to decipher what he is actually talking about like I’m some sort of Sherlock Holmes solving a mystery while dropping his backpack like a cumbersome corpse in the middle of the floor. My concentration is broken. Will I be able to refocus?
He takes off his coat and boots. He puts his backpack away. To the fridge he goes as he will soon devour enough food for an entire brigade of househusbands. And of course, he needs a stiff drink. Milk is his poison of choice. I’m helplessly listening to him with little chance of finishing my writing as he goes on about the juvenile shenanigans that have taken place at his lunch table today at school. I am crippled by this social kryptonite.
It’s now 3:30 pm and I take a deep breath as he has disappeared to his room giving me the opportunity to resume writing.
Luckily, today is an easy day and I am able to quickly regain my prior focus. I tap like a madman on the keyboard making dozens of typos in the process. I don’t care, I think, I just need to keep writing.
At 4:45 pm I finish what looks like an essay a sloppy 3rd grader wrote. It is a mess.
I edit for a little while, which is more like rewriting at this point, and the soft lavender glow of fading light that is typical of late winter afternoons in the upper latitudes is streaming through the kitchen window telling me the day is near an end.
The dog is getting restless. It’s almost her dinner time and my wife will be home at any moment. I save my work and close my laptop. It’s time to feed the dog and figure out what’s for dinner. I never made that meal plan.
This article was originally published at BarryFralick.com