It used to be that I had certain domestic ethics and standards. Not very many, clearly in the eyes of those around me. After all, I left a marriage. I abandoned (no, but that is how my behavior was presented to me) two children. I was a slut and an adulteress (technically yes to the adultery part: after I left my husband and before I was divorced from him; no to the slut part, or at least, if there was a slut part, I wasn’t doing right; I mostly just worked and I had three serious relationships in seven years, the third man I ended up married to).
But I had certain standards, some of which were less to do with my personal behavior and more to do with my personal home running. I was recycling long before it became a thing. I always had chickens, not just because of the delicious side benefit of eggs, but because then I didn’t feel guilty about the kids wasting food. I made my own bread. I made home made beer. Grew my own vegetables. I always used storage containers rather than throwaway wrap. And I never, never ran a load of wash or a dishwasher unless it was totally full. Even then it was on the most ecologically sound cycle and the dryer was never used.
When I met and married my current husband I was appalled at his casual use of the washing machine. He would just use it every day. IRREGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT IT WAS FULL OR THE CYCLE ENERGY EFFICIENCY. (Forgive shouty caps. Can you tell I feel strongly about this?). One of the ways I weaned him off this was to pretty much take over the washing myself but I found that I had taken on a Sisyphean task: the man wears a hell of a lot of clothes. There is the work overall. There is the shirt and the shorts/pants that goes under the work overall. There is the underwear and socks that goes under the shirt and shorts/pants that goes under the work overall. (Sometimes it feels like watching a Matruska (sp?) doll getting dressed.) Then there is the gym outfit after work. And there is the after gym outfit to change into. Can you say after me: “Man, that is a fuck of a lot of clothes to wash!”
Enter my daughter, the well dressed Barbie Doll. Admittedly, she only lives here one week out of two (or used to) but that girl could plough through the clothes and she doesn’t much think of how they miraculously get from her person back to folded in neat piles. Gym outfits, work outfits and going out outfits. Her saving grace is that she is the approximate dimensions of a curvy piece of linguine and her garments tend towards the wispy, making them easy to launder, or at least taking up less space in the washing machine.
Anyway, between the two of them and my desire for my water and electricity bills in this sky high expensive city and the ecological ramaperficiations, I do the laundry, although I quite often demand they do some of it when I get fed up or when my back hurts from hanging it all out, My husband is very good when asked. He realizes how little of it is mine. I worked it out day – 5 %. Seriously. 5 %. And I am by no means filthy.
But my dad’s situation and its repercussions on my own emotional state have tightened my focus on the things that I can afford to care about. There is him. There is my beloved stepmother. There is my family. I have to care about work, food, shelter; they are the basics. Yes, laundry does come into it. But, sadly it seems that my long held (or what I thought were long thought ingrained) beliefs about conservation of water, electricity etc are not the basics. I just don’t give a damn about them any more.
Today I told my husband to wash his own clothes and dishes when they were dirty; that I would rather things be done as they were dirty even at the cost of squandering resources needlessly.
The worst of it is that I do not even feel ashamed as I would have done in the past. I don’t have the spare emotional energy for that. I am getting by the best I can and that is all I can do.