Mum did all the housework when I was a kid.
Cooking. Cleaning. Washing. Ironing. I can’t remember Dad doing any of it. And I was no help either. Just a boy.
We’re talking late sixties and early seventies. Things were different back then.
Dad looked after outside stuff. And fixed things. He worked hard in the building game. It was like Mum didn’t expect him to do anything when he arrived home.
He’d have a beer, and pour the missus a shandy. They’d talk about the day. Usually while Mum was making dinner. Steak. Or chops. If we were lucky, maybe a mixed grill.
Later, Dad and I would take our plates back to the sink. That was about it.
She would wash up, while we relaxed at the table. No offers of help from us. And she never complained. Not once.
In those early days, I’m pretty sure our washing machine was one of those old wringers. Nothing like today. It must have been bloody tough going.
Dryer? Forget it. They didn’t exist. Anyway, that’s what the clothes line was for. I’m not sure the old man even knew where the laundry was.
Before I was old enough to go to school, I remember my dear mother dusting, and mopping floors, and making beds. Every day. There would be music on as she zipped around the house. Which was always clean and tidy.
Things changed a few years after that. Dad’s business went bust. Just like that. I remember our trip home from the bank. The manager, who he’d known for years, refused to help. It was the first time I’d heard Dad swear.
They made us sell our clean house. We moved into a rental place. Much older, but closer to the beach. I’ve told you about it before. The one with the outside dunny and the orange tree out the back.
With money tight, Mum went back to work. Dad was still building, but for others. It hurt him deeply.
It meant their household routine changed. Mum didn’t have time to do all those chores on her own. So Dad had to help. He’d do more around the kitchen. I’d dry up. Sometimes.
He got crook soon after that. And died a few months later. He may have even blamed the washing up.
After that, it seemed Mum went back to doing everything. I have no idea how she did it. She was keeping us afloat financially. And still doing the dusting.
When I moved out of home, I lived with mates, who also had no idea about the finer points of housework. So for the most part, over many years, we’d simply ignore any domestic work.
Can you believe, Mum would actually come over, armed with brooms and buckets, and clean that house too? She couldn’t drive a car, so she’d arrive, unannounced, in a taxi.
On one such trip, the driver warned her not to go inside. Thinking she was a hired cleaner, he thought she should be aware of the horror stories he’d heard about our House of Sin. Even she laughed about that one.
Marriage changes a man. The Treasurer might dispute this, loudly, but I believe I picked up my game. Jobs were shared. Still are. Most of the time. Such is the agreement.
I should stress, I’m still no good at any of it. The blokes out there hear me. We try, but we miss spots. And mopping just doesn’t come naturally.
That’s the beauty of having kids. Of late, they’ve become our domestic helpers. Washing dishes. Drying up. Clearing the bench. And they hate it with a passion.
We cheerfully ignore their excuses. And because they need pocket-money, for important items like Girlfriend magazine and after-school slushies, they have no choice.
They’ll be so much better prepared than I was, if they ever happen to leave home. And even better, their husbands will know no better than to pitch in.
If things had been different, I’m sure Dad would have to. The bloke managed to go to war for his country, and build houses. He would have coped. As long as it didn’t involve anything in the laundry.