I’ve been thinking about domesticity, particularly in view of Blue Witch’s comments. I agree that both parties in a marriage should be able to cook – and housekeep, pay bills and so on – but I’m not sure that it’s the wife’s fault if she doesn’t teach her husband – it may be that he simply doesn’t want to learn. One tends to have a general division of labour and, even if they start doing things together it’s likely that, as time goes by, the one with greater aptitude takes over. Although I know a number of young women who aren’t good at cooking and say in explanation that, because their mother was a good cook, they never learnt. This seems odd to me. It was because my parents were good cooks that they wanted to teach me, and I think this was general at the time. It was absolutely normal for me and my sister to be given jobs in preparation for meals, even if it was just podding peas.
When my children were young, I did most of the day-to-day housework, but once every few weeks I decided the whole house needed a good clean and made a list. This was produced on a Saturday morning and everyone was expected to devote two hours to cleaning. Each person chose a job, did it, ticked it off and picked another one until time was up.
Ro always chose to clean the bathroom and loos, even as a small boy. In later years I asked him about that and he said that no one else ever did and he thought it would be fair to me, who normally did the job. Al always took on the kitchen and spent the entire two hours scrubbing it meticulously. Their father normally cleared up the mess he’d made, which took quite a while, but was also good at polishing wood floors. Weeza did general cleaning, sitting room, bedrooms and so on, and I did what no one else chose.
Then the cooking – my children have always been good cooks. One summer – I’m sure I’ve blogged this before, sorry – I decreed that, for the school holidays, we’d have a five-day rota and each of us take it in turn to cook. Ro was only about five at the time but he took his turn, with a bit of help (though scrambled egg on toast was well within his capabilities and perfectly acceptable, with vegetables or a salad) and it was a really pleasant change for me, even though I did the shopping and helped out where required and it wasn’t much less work. Ro now does most of the cooking at home, by the way. Everyone else did very well – the older two were in their early teens so well able to manage and the Sage probably chose to barbecue steaks and sausages, which went down well.
Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be babysitting Gus and we’ll meet up with Dilly and Hay. We’re hoping for fine weather, but will go to Norwich Castle if it’s wet.