On valuing the domestic

Friday was an unusual day, but one that makes a lot of sense in terms of who I think I might be.

You see, in the family home, I have taken over vacuuming and dusting duties in large parts of the house due to Papa taking on more than he can manage (again) and not being fit or available to do the job as he likes it done. I will never ever be someone you would hire as a professional cleaner. That’s not my thing, and from my experience of trying that job, I find it degrading and humiliating (but I wouldn’t ban professional cleaners; I am sure some have very different attitudes to their job).

Since the parents make Friday their “Date Night” day where they go off doing stuff out in the Real World, it makes sense I use the empty house time to do the cleaning duties. So I get out my vacuum cleaner, duster cloths (four different colours, for different types of surfaces) and some squirty cleaner fluid, and go around doing a job that satisfies my inspection.

In general, I would call myself houseproud but lazy/reluctant. Many’s the time I’ve cleaned because expecting company, and after cleaning to the best I can manage, felt, “Well, I’ll just apologise for the state it’s in and pretend this is the worst, rather than best, I manage.” (This may be why I am so reluctant: although having cleaner living space is nice – it never feels like a total win.) Of course, several times when the expected company arrived, they said, “Oh, my, you didn’t need to clean up especially for me!” which kind of took the wind out of my carefully planned excuse. Oddly, it’s also less reassuring than, “That’s okay, I don’t mind.”

Last Friday was different: parents off on holiday, and Little Sister with her hubby coming to collect their cat whom we’ve been looking after while they sort out a house move. So what happened was, I texted to find out when they would arrive, and to ask what I should make for dinner from the chicken leftovers from the previous evening’s meal.

As I was preparing the requested recipe, I had a strong sense of being the “househusband”, dutifully having the meal ready for when the “Other Half” arrived home. And I liked it.

I’ve written before about wanting to be a mum, and referenced this kind of feeling in that piece:

I feel it important to distinguish between on the one hand my willingness to play the “traditionally female” role of staying at home, caring for the child, dusting and hoovering, making dinner; and on the other hand my desire to be “mum”.

Here is the practical experience that informs and demonstrates that to be the stay-at-home partner resonates for me, makes me feel accomplished and belonging.

It feels strange to have such a bad reaction to the idea of professional cleaning, and yet to embrace a role that involves cleaning duties. A large part of the difference must be about pressure and acceptance; and what I can achieve. Professional standards of cleaning are beyond me, it seems. I said before that some of my visitors identified my “yes, I cleaned, but it’s not very good” as being “cleaned up specially”. Others, I am sure, were less impressed. As long as the standards I manage and settle for are acceptable to the other party or parties, there is no problem. When people talk about “shared values” in a relationship, it’s easy to imagine things like political values, but shared ideas about home environment standards are also important – maybe, more so than the political ones.

I want to feel like it’s my part in an equal partnership (just like being a Dom would be my part in an equal partnership with a sub) rather than something for which there might be blame or penalties (or, for that matter, extra rewards). A simple thank you is enough (and in my imagined relationship, a kiss on the cheek would go a long way). The curious thing is that I will do far more for another person, in such a situation, than I ever do when it’s purely for myself. My own room is still a semi-tip, even though I have plenty of time to do this cleaning as well. But the rest seems worth it, whereas this somehow gets shunted down the priorities indefinitely. It’s the idea, I think, of playing my part.

~ ~ ~

Jemima @ Sometimes It’s Just A Cigar wrote a couple of weeks back about how her Dom partner is also domestically-minded (FWIW, I totally want to see the ironing blowjob porn she describes in that post! Would quite like to see a M/M version too):

People are I think confused by the idea of a domestic Dominant because of an idea that dominance within BDSM is somehow about reinforcing gender roles, and particularly a form of masculinity that has at its heart power over women.

In my novel, although both partners in the central M/s relationship work, the “slave” is the primary wage-earner; her husband and Master works shorter hours, for less pay, and therefore is responsible for welcoming home his partner, with dinner ready to be served.


About ValeryNorth

I overthink everything.
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