There's not much to housework? Excuse me?

By Minx McCloud

Very rarely do I defend my lifestyle to others, but today I'm going to make an exception. After this column is in print, I'll read it to my husband and then staple it to his forehead.

A few years ago, after some soul-searching, I decided to pursue a career in free-lance writing. Jim would continue to work in the city as a computer geek, and I would sit at home and try to create something that Oprah Winfrey would fall in love with.

... There are many little chores that are invisible to the naked eye, especially when that naked eye belongs to a husband.

Jim would take care of the yard work and I would take care of everything else related to the house because I was at home all day. However, men have little concept of what exactly goes into the running of a household, even one without children.

This became evident to me after Jim commented to one of his friends about how I was "free" during the day because "there's not too much to do around the house."

OK, I admit that there have been times that I've been a bit remiss in dusting, but believe me, most of the time, this house is clean and well organized. Bath and kitchen areas are always immaculate.

However, there are many little chores that are invisible to the naked eye, especially when that naked eye belongs to a husband.

If Jim were to come home and smell something unpleasant, he might suspect the garbage pail was full. He might even empty it. Would he wonder who scrubs out that garbage pail with soapy water and washes the wall behind it when he misses the bag or the garbage pail altogether? Who cleans the refrigerator and removes the fruit and vegetable bins to clean up the spills from his soda, milk and other things he's tipped over in his odyssey to locate the relish?

The family cat sleeps in his lap at night, but does he ever wonder who feeds it, brushes it, clips its claws and takes it to the vet? Who cleans up its hairballs and changes its kitty litter?

Gosh, it's the same person who pretreats Jim's underwear and scrubs the inside of the toilet. Oh, and let's not forget that I clean up the bird poop on the pool deck. Sometimes I think only new mothers and proctologists are up to their armpits in excrement more than I am.

Does a man even understand how many little things there are to take care of during the day? It's easy to think a woman has a few important tasks -- cooking, laundry, shopping and cleaning -- but break them down and there's so much more.

I make all our doctor's appointments, clean up billing errors (often spending hours on hold in the course of a week), handle all correspondence; do the food shopping; and go to the post office, library, video store and pool store. And by the way, who does he think skims the leaves off the pool before he gets home to go for his nightly swim during the summer?

Am I swimming with him? Not bloody likely, because I'm in the kitchen cooking dinner.

I clean mirrors, remove ceiling cobwebs, straighten out closets, Windex the computer screen, sew buttons on his clothes, dust the tops of books, toothbrush the grout, and throw the bed's dustcover in the wash. I go around with a little sticky cylinder and get the cat hair off the furniture so it doesn't end up in his food.

I change light bulbs, clean the fish bowl, and use a wet sponge on the phone receivers and mouthpieces so they don't get icky.

Who washes the vegetables and fruits, cleans the little doohickey on the can opener so we don't get salmonella, and Q-tips the dust out of the stereo speakers? Who resets the clocks when there's a power outage (why do we have 15 digital clocks in a 10-room house anyway?) and sets the VCR for his favorite programs? Who crawls around on the floor cleaning baseboards, sponges out the microwave and Easy-Offs the oven? Does he think the toaster empties its own crumbs into the garbage?

When Jim leaves his favorite glass on the floor and the cat licks it, who does he think washes it out?

Well, I could go on and on, but you get the general idea. There's a lot to do to keep a house running properly, and if you have kids, there is 10 times the amount of stuff I do.

When I mentioned this to Jim in front of his friend, he said, "Well, you don't have to do all that stuff. I wouldn't care." His friend unwisely agreed with him. You see, some men want to look around and see an apparently clean house, but they would never think of tackling what they consider the "invisible chores."

Therefore, they prefer to believe that their stay-at-home spouses have an easy time of it. If I died tomorrow, the "Fall of the House of McCloud" would occur within a month.

As the two cackling idiots chortled about how "easy" women have it, I kept my mouth shut and vowed to write this column, which will bore the guys and please the daylights out of the gals.

To show there were no hard feelings, I even good-naturedly fetched them some potato chips and soda.

(I found a couple of glasses on the floor by the couch, but alas, I was so pressed for time that I just didn't have time to wash them.)

Minx McCloud is a free-lance journalist who writes about life in New Jersey. She can be reached at To see her most recent column, click here.

This article is copyright 2001 by Minx McCloud and appears here with permission.

May we also suggest:
Out of the way, Martha Stewart -- I'm in the kitchen now