Mr. Clean – This week’s column

Here’s this week’s Regarding Annie Column, if you’re interested.

“There comes a time in every marriage when you find out exactly what you’ve ended up with. I’ve reached that point.

Unfortunately, I’ve been laid up for the past two weeks of gestation, mostly unable to do anything worthwhile that doesn’t involve television or pointing and yelling. During this time I’ve come to a very scary conclusion: I miss cleaning my house. It’s gotten to the point where I sit on the couch and leak tears of total frustration at my inability to do anything of value.

So last week I called Jason at work and said something like this (with a lot more exclamation marks and possibly a few mild curse words).

“Hi honey, I would greatly appreciate it if you’d let me call the Ladies From Church now so I can get some help with the house/kids/food situation. I am feeling panicky and slightly volatile at the moment, perhaps you’d consider consenting to this very rational and reasonable plan?”

Why did I ask permission? Because at the moment, he is completely determined to do it all himself. Translation: he thinks he can come home and do my job, mow the lawn, run the scouts, feed the kids, be on call for work–you get the picture. The boy rarely puts his foot down on me, but this time he’s been adamant: thou shalt not put anybody else out.

“Honey, no,” he says. “Be patient with me, I’ll take care of everything tonight when I get home. This is my family, I can do this.”

“But darling,” I say with possibly a little more emphasis on the “but” and maybe no “darling”, “If I wait until tonight, you might have to commit me to an asylum for crazy housewives who can’t get anything done and start calling themselves Sara Sylvia Synthia Stout and spend their days reciting creepy poetry. The Ladies From Church can do more than toll painting, you know.”

“Look,” he says, “Please, I can do this. You just have to let me do it on my terms. Now I have to get back to work, and Honey, it’s going to be okay.”

Then he hung up and I freaked out at the wall.

That night when he came home we had a nice, warm (heated) discussion about our current situation and his limitations. In the end, I agreed to let him give it a go for a week and see how he survived. I’ve changed our grocery list to pre-made foods he can throw together in a country minute, and have since employed my children in back-breaking labor on a daily basis to keep me from going insane.

The biggest shocker? One week into the new setup and I hate to admit it, but he was right. He walks in at night and asks for his “list” (which I  may or may not pad with unimportant mindless tasks just to test him), then goes after it like a freight train.

And I’ve realized something big. He loves me. A lot. No guilt, only the occasional sigh, and plenty of back breaking, loving labor on his part.

You know, I think I could get used to this.”


  1. You are taking all the kids with you, right?

  2. Camille says:

    You have a good man. Sometimes it’s hard for me to read your posts…..
    Give him a good hug.

  3. He sounds like a good man. And he SHOULD be able to do all this. I did it for years as a working single mom. It’s not unusual at all for a person to work full time and run the household. When you do this, you realize that running a household, including hauling the kids to doctor’s appointments and sporting activities, doing the grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning house, etc. is not a full time job.

  4. While I think it’s great he loves you and wants to do all those things for you… I can’t help but wonder if it’s a pride thing in that he may perceive himself as a failure if he can’t do it all. And the other thing… the ladies from church, he may be denying them an opportunity of practicing their reason for existence. If that makes sense. Just sayin’.

    • annie valentine says:

      It is a pride thing, and he is denying them, but at the same time, he seems to feel really good about taking care of us so I’m letting this one fly.

  5. I’m just hoping to get to the point where I no longer have to re-do all the cleaning projects that my husband attempts to help me with. He’s banned from laundry, but very good at washing dishes.

  6. Is he for hire? How do I get my hubs to do that if I’m not pregnant or gestating?

  7. Too bad there isn’t always pregnancy to use for a husband to do the cleaning:) You should develop a severe case of cleaning material allergy after the baby comes so he can continue with ths list.

  8. rebequita83 says:

    That’s awesome. My husband tried to tell me he could do all this after I had our first child but I refused to let him-MY pride got in the way. That was silly of me. Next baby: I’m accepting his offer. No doubt! He just better offer again…

  9. Well I’d say you have quite a man there. Is is for hire…..I promise I won’t sleep with him (tee,hee).
    Actually, my hubby is a hard worker too.
    Like they say, Action speaks louder then words……………….and I am convinced HE DOES LOVE YOU and his little family.

  10. Pride can also be a great motivator, when applied correctly and I’d have to say this is one of those times. Sure if things weren’t working out so great then he’d have to give in and call the sisters. But it sounds like to me that he’s also the kind of man that with time would look back and be proud in his effort to support and be there for his wife and children when they needed them and the very fact that he stepped up to the plate first instead of just passing it along. You’re a lucky woman! Enjoy the break and the hard work of a good man and be proud of him.

    • annie valentine says:

      We talked about this yesterday, the idea that it’s not a bad kind of pride. He made the good point that he doesn’t want to ask others for help until he’s done as much as he can. If that’s not enough, no problem. I’m lucky; it’s been enough. And it feels good to let him take care of things.

  11. It’s another facet of that amazing man-thing, the I’ll-do-it-as-long-as-it-was-my-idea thing. My husband doesn’t want to be reminded about anything – if I “plant the seed” I have to walk away and let it turn into his plan. But it seems to work eventually. Glad it’s working for you. Hang in.