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Picking Up The House Feels Like Literally Picking Up The House

, , , , | Related | September 24, 2019

(This happens when I am ten years old. My parents have briefly gotten back together at the time of this story, after being divorced since I was an infant. It should be noted that my dad has had custody of me all my life. Beyond weekend visits with my mom, I’ve actually never lived with her. Things get… interesting quickly.) 

Me: *to my mom not long after she and my younger half-sister move in* “Ugh, I hate doing dishes!” 

Mom: “Well, if you pick up the rest of the house for me, I’ll do the dishes.” 

Me: *excited* “Really?! Deal!”

(For ten-year-old me, it honestly seems like a great trade. My dad is lazy with housework, so to me, picking up the house means cleaning up trash, straightening, and putting things away. However, with my mom, I learn a completely different version. While she cleans dishes by hand, which takes less than an hour, she has me vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing, dusting, and pretty much gutting every room in the home from the moment I step inside after getting home from school around 3:00 pm until my dad gets home around 6:00 pm. I try to ask my mom to lighten the load, but she won’t hear of it because we had a “deal.” And I don’t want to tell my dad because I complained so much about doing dishes before. This goes on for weeks until one night…)

Me: *literally falling asleep on my feet while my dad asks my sister and me what we want for dinner* 

Dad: “[My Name]? Hey! [My Name]?”

Me: *jerks awake* “What?”

Dad: “What’s wrong?” 

Me: “I’m tired.” 

Dad: “Why?” 

Me: “I was doing chores.” 

Dad: “Are you seriously tired just from doing dishes?”

Me: *quietly shakes my head* 

Dad: *in a pure authoritarian voice that must be obeyed* “What, then?” 

Me: “I’ve been cleaning the house.” 

Dad: “What do you mean?”

Me: *explains everything* 

Dad: “She’s been having you clean since you got home?!” 

Me: *nods meekly, thinking I’m in trouble*

Dad: “Have you had your after-school snack?” 

Me: *shakes head* 

Dad: “Is your homework even done?” 

Me: *shakes head, feeling a little panicked* “I haven’t had time. I didn’t even have a chance to sit down.”

(Just then, my mom comes out from the back of the house.) 

Mom: *angrily* “Is [My Name] complaining about her chores?” 

(At that point, my dad sent me out of the kitchen. Long story short, I never had to do three hours’ worth of chores again, nor did I ever complain about having to do dishes. Essentially, my mom, who did not work, had me doing what she was responsible for and passing it off as if she’d been cleaning all along. Sadly, this was not the only thing she did while living with us, including wedging herself between me and my dad, throwing out a religious item of mine that was a gift from him because she did not “approve,” and even throwing away my perfectly good Game Boy, because she claimed I was going to get a new one that was in color. I was not upset when my parents separated after a year and I no longer had to endure the evil stepmom version of my own mother. And, twenty years later, I’m still waiting on that Game Boy Color, though I’d settle for the latest version of PlayStation.)

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