Friday, September 08, 2006

...you're good enough, and darn it, people like you...

Another post makes me ask myself: Do I under-value the role of stay-at-home-mom/dad? I think maybe I do, a little. Or rather, to cut myself a little slack: although I believe homemaking is as *important* as anything we do, I am guilty of considering it less demanding than other types of work.

I think this has to do with a number of factors, but first a little prolepsis to forestall your many angry protests:

Taking care of a house and kids can be hard work. They are a constant drain on your time and energy. It feels like your work is never done, and you may spend years doing the same thing over and over to minimal applause. It often takes forever to get a few simple things done. At times it can be highly unpleasant, mind-numbingly boring, and physically exhausting. There’s no question it is critically important work, and is usually under-appreciated.
Furthermore, I think we *do* place too high a value on the dollar, and too little on quality-of-life issues (ie, many of the things a home-maker provides).

And all that said, on to why I think homemaking is often valued less than market work:

1) Immediacy. It might take years to see the results of good parenting vs bad parenting. On the other hand, doing poorly in “market” work (ie, a paying job) may mean you have to give up eating and sleeping indoors, starting next month. The immediacy of failure looms large.

2) As well as being more immediate, the needs supplied by earning money (ie, food, shelter, clothing) are more basic and more universal. The needs met by good housekeeping (clean towels, made beds, ironed clothes) are luxuries. The needs fulfilled by good parenting (life enrichment, education, self-esteem, social adjustment, self-fulfillment, etc) are higher on Maslow’s hierarchy; while they may be considered just as essential as physical needs, they aren’t as generally understood or as universally satisfied.

3) Penalty for failure. With the significant exception of parenting, the rest of a SAHM/D’s duties carry a smaller penalty for failure than a typical market position does. If you don’t do laundry, cook, clean, or make beds for a week, the result is inconvenience for a handful of people; there are many market jobs where significant amounts of money, time, opportunity, or even life & death is riding on adequate performance.

4) Training. Again, with the significant exception of parenting, housekeeping requires less training and less experience to achieve a satisfactory level of performance.

5) Pressure. The pressure to be a good parent, to keep a clean house, etc, are mostly self-applied. On the other hand, unless you’ve been there you probably have no idea of the adrenaline and gastric juice a lone wage-earner goes thru in trying to fulfill their responsibility for the survival & well-being of several people, while balancing their portion of parenting, role as spouse, personal pride vs boss’s demands, and personal and professional integrity.

We all speak from our personal experience, and I’m no exception. I had heard from everyone how a woman’s work is difficult and never done, but I remember when Hannah was in the hospital, and I took several days off from work to keep house and care for our small children. I assumed it would overwhelm me. It didn’t – it was bliss. I had no deadlines, no cranky boss breathing down my neck threatening to fire everyone and close the company, no agenda, no difficult clients or insecure and ill-informed supervisors to work with (or maneuver around). I did not spend my day wrestling with knotty design challenges and making difficult decisions with inadequate data that left me mentally exhausted.

I dressed the kids, I bathed the kids (not in that order); I fed the kids; I vacuumed and did laundry. I took the kids to the park. I took the kids to the hospital to see Mommy. I put the kids in pajamas. I read the kids a story. I blew on their tummies and practiced counting and what all the animals say. I put the kids to bed. I sat down in the living room and read a book. I practiced my guitar. It was wonderful, and I hated to go back to work.

I readily concede that:
a) it might become boring to do every day
b) anything seems like a vacation if you only do it for a week
c) my standard of neatness/cleanliness was lower than Hannah’s
d) I didn’t have chronic back pain like Hannah did at that time

But then again:
a) boring doesn’t mean difficult
b) see above
c) one’s neatness standard is one’s own choice – nobody’s forced to scrub their floors till you can eat off of them, or buy bed sets with so many pillows & shams & ruffles that bed-making takes 10 minutes per bed per day, or have thousands of china plates, figurines, and houseplants that require dusting, watering, etc
d) when people talk about how difficult homemaking is, they’re not assuming the pain Hannah had

And great gosh almighty, the lack of pressure! If I made a mistake with the housecleaning, no one got fired, no client called the boss threatening to leave, no one noted it on a performance evaluation, there was no danger of not being able to buy groceries, of ruining our credit, of having the sheriff put our stuff out on the curb. I could run the house as I pleased. I could chat on the phone for an hour while folding laundry, and no one looked askance at my use of time. I could get a babysitter for an hour if I wanted, and take a nap. I could take the kids for a drive. It was great.

My point, as I look back on what I’ve written above, is probably really less to do with how easy homemaking is (not that simple to do well) as it is this: Because homemaking has been under-appreciated, we’re used to hearing a lot about how SAHM/D’s should be valued more. Which is all true. What I guess we (or maybe just I) haven’t heard acknowledged, is that the complementary role to the SAHM/D – that of single wage-earner – often carries a significant amount of pressure. And many wage-earners – or at least, me – have learned to just suck it up and produce, not whine about it. Until now, that is...

It’s also possible that I’ve been doing it wrong. That is, that I find the idea of home-making attractive because my jobs have sucked so badly; that other wage-earners have jobs that are satisfying and pressure-free. But I doubt it.

18 Comments:

At Fri Sep 08, 01:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger prrrof said...

I shouldn't be posting because I have a stack of 25 student essays staring at me and I'm on #8. But here are a few quick thoughts.

First, I do think it's stressful to be the sole anything: the main SAHM/D or the main "breadwinner" (although winning sounds a lot cooler than staying.)

That said, I think these waters are still more fraught for women than they are for men. The choices aren't as clear, the judgments seem to come more quickly--for any "choice" a family/woman makes.

Some families make the conscious decision to have one person stay at home; others fall into it. But when there's one mostly-at-home and one mostly-at-work, it's really hard to be in either place.

I'm not a great stay-at-home parent. I get lazy; I don't get anything done; I get frustrated by the kids. Yet when I have my full days with them and this happens, I feel guilty because I should *want* to be home all of the time (right? that's what good mothers want?) *And*, I know I'd feel even more stress on the _parenting_ angle if I were home full-time (am I stimulating their minds? providing fun, safe activities? etc., and so on).

So I go to work, and I feel twinges there--I'm paying someone else to watch my kids? What kind of parent am I?

For the first time in our little family's history, I am the only wage earner. This is temporary, and because my salary is totally predictable (I'm not in sales!), and because we're lucky enough to be in cheap housing, we're getting by. I *don't* feel the pressure of being the only wage earner, but perhaps that's because I do know it's temporary. That, and after 14+ years of marriage, we've figured out how to budget (we're slow learners)

So this is far too long--but one more thing before I quit hogging the comment section. It's frustrating how this kind of discussion nearly always sets up only two choices: either you work, or you stay home. This is not the argument you set out to have (at least I didn't pay for it--ha ha), but still: these debates never seem to acknowledge how *healthy* it might be for *both* parental units to work some and *both* to be home some. At least that way I can never come home and complain about the undone laundry. After all, it'll be my day to end with a dirty kitchen floor tomorrow.

 
At Fri Sep 08, 01:17:00 PM PDT, Blogger Left Coast Sister said...

(Are you shocked that I'm jumping onto the comment box asap on this one?!)
So in reality we all just need to appreciate the struggles of our respective roles. I don't doubt that it's stressful being the only wage-earner, but the wage-earner also has an office full (or farm full or firestation full, etc) of people telling him/her how he/she is doing and affirming the wage-earners sense of being. Not to mention the fact that a paycheck after two weeks (or not, I guess) is a good indication of one's value. A SAHM/D has neither. As for the pressure? Sure, no one's going to fire me, but there are days I'd like to resign and I can't. That's got its own feeling of pressure. I guess in this era of two-income families being more normal, it seems like the SAHM/D is treated like a person without a brain. (At a party: "What do you do?" Me:"I stay at home w/the kids." Person: "oh. Where was that brain surgeon, I was hoping to have an interesting conversation here.") I'm glad that for you it didn't seem difficult and that you weren't overwhelmed... but you had an end date. You knew you weren't doing laundry, grocery shopping, bathing and dressing ad infinitum so you had a totally different perspective. The thought of solving a tricky problem that doesn't involve peanut butter in a light socket sounds relaxing to me, but it probably wouldn't if I did it 40 (or 80) hrs a week. Everyone's role in da house is important, & I guess that's what I think is missing in society... the willingness to say, My job's hard, but thanks for doing your job which is also hard (although maybe for different reasons). I just don't understand why someone always has to be the winner of some Biggest Shoes to Fill award. Respect each other, people.

 
At Fri Sep 08, 05:53:00 PM PDT, Blogger unca said...

Nicely said and that's all I have to say. "Everyone's role in da house is important, & I guess that's what I think is missing in society... the willingness to say, My job's hard, but thanks for doing your job which is also hard (although maybe for different reasons). I just don't understand why someone always has to be the winner of some Biggest Shoes to Fill award. Respect each other, people."

 
At Fri Sep 08, 07:00:00 PM PDT, Blogger jay are said...

Amen to all the above. Left coast, we're in the same place. I think what resonates the most for me is the lack of validation, the lack of physical tangible things that tell you "you're doing a good job". More often than not what stares you in the face all day are indications that you aren't maybe doing as awesome a job as you wish you would be (undone laundry, dirty kitchen because you're tired of laundry that's not getting done, kids who are arguing constantly---where am I going wrong there?---etc.)...And yes, everyone has a different standard about what's acceptable, that's true. Anyway...no easy answers for this. Different perspectives, none right or wrong.

 
At Fri Sep 08, 08:37:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Willa said...

Great post and great comments. Just a petty thought- the wage earner (depending on jobs of course) usually gets to go out to lunch without kids!!! ;) Really though, there is a social dynamic to *outside* jobs that the SAHM/D misses. Though I can't say I'd trade it. I do enjoy all the things Bryan mentioned during his week at home. But, there are plenty of things I recall enjoying about the liberties of the work day too. The grass is always greener I think. So back to respecting each other as LCS said.

 
At Fri Sep 08, 09:23:00 PM PDT, Blogger Lisa said...

Right now, my husband and I do what prrrof said: we both work and we both stay home. I only work 15 hours a week,so I'm a little more on the SAH side, but won't be forever. Thing is, my husband is pretty miserable at his job, and claims he'd LOVE to stay home all day. I think he probably would, too. He's a better cleaner, more patient with the kids. He'd do a great job. I resist this solution, though. I don't WANT to give up being a SAHM. I really don't. yeah, some days I hate having no validation. Some days the laundry is threatening to fall on me. And sometimes (ok, a lot) I feel guilty because I'm not keeping the house as clean as he would. BUT, given the choice, I wouldn't trade roles.

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say. I guess it depends on whether you chose the SAHM/D role, or whether it was thrust upon you. But if you chose it, and if you believe it's right, can you accept that you get your validation in different ways than the regular wage job and be happy anyway? (I'm not judging, just wondering if internal validation is possible).

Maybe it's good for every SAHM/D to imagine themselves in my situation: imagine your SO comes home tomorrow and says "I'm ready to stay home now; YOU go work". Sounds good, but when it really comes down to it, would you want to?

 
At Fri Sep 08, 10:50:00 PM PDT, Blogger Twisted DNA said...

You make a lot of sense. Stay at home parenting is hard work, but essensially less risky than say a high paying executive job. Good post

 
At Sat Sep 09, 05:46:00 PM PDT, Anonymous si said...

(first of all, in a debate you would chew me up and spit me out in a million little pieces...)

so, that being said, i'll still vent re this post and the previous one on the forbes article –- i'm hoping that they have been created more in the spirit of stimulating discussion, providing point-counterpoint, and yes, even controversy in and of itself (and in reading one of your rebuttal comments, i think that was probably part of your intention). and that therefore these views are not an absolute take of the working and home worlds and the relationships within them. i generally don’t consider myself a very strong feminist in the true sense of the word. but these posts -- well, i recognize that they annoy me; apparently the feminist in me is not quite dead.

michael noer concludes many causal effects of career women and marriages/divorces/unhappiness. i find his conclusions and your agreement with them to be generalizing and simplistic. (i know that i’ve shared some specific things with you but that shouldn’t dismiss my opinion on this.) temptations and opportunities are out there if one wants to find them -- in corporate offices or at the gym or with the neighbor next door. divorces/unhappiness obviously happen even when the wife is not a career woman. also, your dismissive tone to the responses to the article (some of which I found just humorous and not to be taken too seriously) and additional chauvinistic and sexist comments about the differences in what men vs women want ideally (and apparent pride in these views), while didn’t take me totally by surprise (you’ve said them before), rubbed me the wrong way this time...

then on to this post -- my conclusion as to what you said: SAHS (stay-at-home-spouse [for the most part wives]) really do not provide the immediate value to the relationship/family and have a less than demanding “job” than that of the WOTHS (work-outside-the-home-spouse). OMG, it’s not so much the words or even the theories behind them but the tone of, again, dismissal that irritate me. your filling-in when hannah was hospitalized was, as someone else pointed out, just that -- “filling in”. there was a finite-ness to it. it wasn’t the never-ending, and at times, mind-numbing road that SAH’s have. you’re correct, if the floor isn’t swept and the bathroom isn’t cleaned today, that doesn’t pose the same immediacy as a specific deadline that wasn’t met at the office. but eventually the overall wellbeing of the family hinges on all of these jobs being done, correct? and the responsibility of the current welfare and the future “greatness” of your most precious asset(s) (children) must weigh heavily. i think someone also said that the lack of appreciation for the “work” that is provided and intellectual dismissal of SAH’s are the cruxes (sp?) of the frustration. i, myself, would find the SAH-world much more demanding than the career-world.

actually, both of your posts have semblances of “truthiness” to them (familiar with stephen colbert?). (i found it interesting that you posted both of these within a short time of each other. these posts [it seems to me] portray a certain sexism and a “no win-ism” to them -- to both the career- and the stay-at-home- woman. what does this mean?) i recognize that i’m reacting from a mostly emotional stance myself and have my own sense of truthiness to your posts. i’m sure that i haven’t exactly debated/defended my side (i’m not sure if it’s a “side” that i wanted to convey -- mostly my gut reaction to what you wrote).

 
At Mon Sep 11, 01:23:00 PM PDT, Blogger blogball said...

I Say… If your kid(s) are nicer to you than your boss STAY HOME
If your boss is nicer to you than your kid(s) GO TO WORK

 
At Mon Sep 11, 01:24:00 PM PDT, Blogger blogball said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Mon Sep 11, 02:55:00 PM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

That's what we need around here -- less staleness, more passion.
Thx for comments, all. Will respond (not that you cared) when not at work...

 
At Thu Sep 14, 10:36:00 AM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

Thx for thoughtful comments. Acknowledging that I don’t have time to adequately respond to all, and that I shouldn’t be posting anything at all, but working on my to-do list…

THINGS I AGREE WITH / ACKNOWLEDGE:
- women are judged more harshly for their choices, even by their own selves.
- the wage-earner has a tangible reward (money), while a SAH often lacks validation, affirmation. (I think I said that before, but just in case.)
- SAH’s are often subject to “intellectual dismissal”
- we don’t have to compete for the Biggest Shoes to Fill award.

THINGS I STILL STAND BY:
- my “chauvinistic and sexist comments about the differences in what men vs women want ideally (and apparent pride in these views)”. The Perfect Day deal was a joke – it was an exaggeration. But I absolutely believe that men and women are wired differently at a fundamental level, and that -- combined with socialization -- makes us want different things.
- “eventually the overall wellbeing of the family hinges on all of these jobs being done, correct?” Well, yes and no. My point was merely that one can survive without clean laundry, but not without food. Most of the things the worker provides come earlier on the list of necessities, so it shouldn’t be surprising that his/her contribution might be viewed as more critical.

OTHER THING
As si alluded to, I’ve made two posts recently (and others in the past) that could be construed as anti-women. I don’t think I am, but it’s certainly a fair question.
Without a doubt, I speak in part from the following:
- not popular with girls in High School
- recently divorced. (a female client going thru divorce recently told me “sometimes lately I just hate all men” )

So is it just that Bryan doesn’t like women? Still smarting from rejection as a lad, still full of fear and resentment? It would be silly to say those things don’t play some part in why the issues resonate with me, but I think misogyny as an overall explanation is a little exaggerated and a little too pat. I *do* think my history (esp my marriage) is why I take the time to post about this stuff, but I don’t think it’s about disliking women -– I think it’s about expressing *my* side of an issue, about providing a counterpoint to the voices I read and those that still echo from my past.
Remember, I wanted to be a feminist. I tried, and the ideas I adopted cost me. I later had to reluctantly let go of some of the feminist theories I had held in the face of overwhelming evidence. But having been steeped in a culture of “women good, men bad”, I’m now articulating a voice for the “other side”.
So when I hear about women vomiting and full of fury about Noer, I hear echos of college, when I observed gynocentric rage over a million slights, many of which I came to realize were imagined or exaggerated.

And after spending 16+ yrs of marriage trying to get my brain and heart around Hannah’s POV on things, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that Yes, I made a lot of mistakes. Yes, I could have been a better husband. Yes, I could have appreciated her more, etc. But in spite of all of that: Some of the things she wanted and expected were absurd. She had almost no conception of what I went through to provide for her and the kids. She (I felt) mentioned often how difficult things were for her, and even (occasionally) how to her my life looked relatively easy. I felt like whatever I did was never enough (curiously, if you ask her, she’ll say the same). So when LCS posted about the SAH role being devalued, I felt the need to explain *why* people (ie, working spouses) tend to devalue it: because some of us feel we’re working hard to provide things that are even more immediately essential, and not getting a hell of a lot of acknowledgement for it.

Or maybe I’m just mad because I remember how hot Jiffy Cowden was, and she wouldn’t remember me at all. You never know.

 
At Thu Sep 14, 12:38:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Cal said...

First off, I love LCS's Biggest Shoes comment. But wanted to jump in here with a thing...

- Si: “eventually the overall wellbeing of the family hinges on all of these jobs being done, correct?”
Bryan: Well, yes and no. My point was merely that one can survive without clean laundry, but not without food. Most of the things the worker provides come earlier on the list of necessities, so it shouldn’t be surprising that his/her contribution might be viewed as more critical.


What you present above is a false dichotomy, as if the two options are either I do my job well as a breadwinner, or we all starve. In reality, if you lose your job... yes, you'll be poorer, maybe be on assistance for a while, maybe even lose the house... but in this country, ya ain't gonna starve, or even realistically be out on the street. You may be in a smaller house, have to make some sacrifices and have fewer comforts... but the primary casualty will likely be your pride.

I think this leads us to the flip side of your position that the pressures on the SAH are largely self-imposed, as they're essentially trying to live up to their own (arbitrary) expectations for cleanliness, etc. The BreadWinner's stress is often very much about meeting his OWN arbitrary expectations about "what a man should be able to do for his family". (You may argue that Hannah would've been more unhappy at the loss of comfort and affluence than you... but that argument also works both ways, as many/most BWs have expectations about home making, and will traditionally freely express their dissatisfaction if those expectations are not met.)

Back to your initial values comparison, I submit that it is of lesser importance whether we live in an old apartment or a new house, drive a dream or a clunker, dine on steak or mac&cheese. Of greater importance (even leaving aside "parenting", as you did) is ensuring that the children live in a clean, healthy, structured environment, with regular meals, standards of cleanliness and order, etc. Which implies that the level of pressure on the SAH has the potential to be much greater.

Which I think is at the heart of the issue. SAHs feel undervalued because the argument tends to be framed in your terms... The BW says, "well, we gotta eat, don't we?", essentially laying claim to the lowest level of Maslow's Hierarchy, as if those needs would not be met without them. In reality, in this country at least, those needs will largely be met whether you're a top notch consultant or a mediocre (insert menial job here), so the penalty for failure is actually not nearly as high or far-reaching as the penalty for failure at home-- where poor performance may actually DENY the family the realization of the other levels of need, with life-long and generation-spanning consequence.

 
At Thu Sep 14, 07:54:00 PM PDT, Anonymous si said...

i'm thinking that "misogynistic" is not correct. on the contrary, i believe you like women very much and as far as i'm concerned, get along well with them. maybe it's *respect* (fundamentally) that may be in question here -- don't know. (??) a respect that should be reciprocated.

cal (obviously) can present arguments much better than i -- wow, that's surprising. :)

sorry for continuing this thread (actually wasn't planning to) -- i just wanted to say that i did not mean to imply you hated women.

still friends!! (you can't get rid of me that easily!) :)

 
At Thu Sep 14, 10:54:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. All these wordy words..... my ears are laying down.

 
At Sat Sep 16, 12:06:00 AM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

Si, you're right that you never said I was misogynistic.

Cal, mostly not buyin' it.
First of all, there *are* hungry people in this country, there *are* people on the street. Life on assistance sucks hard, and it's about far more than the BW's pride.

And it's not like you can just work 50% less hard and get 50% less money. Flipping burgers 40 hrs/wk at $7/hr can be harder work than consulting at $100/hr. Whatever you do, you'll have to work hard. That's the expectation. That's the pressure.

It's true that the BW's standard often has to do with expectations about "what a man should be able to do for his family". But those expectations are NOT arbitrary. A BW slacking off on the job, losing the house, and the family going on AFDC is a HUGE deal -- the idea that it's equivalent to a SAH doing a bad job on the housekeeping is absurd.

In my experience, the BW, the SAH, and society put far more pressure on the BW to produce than those three put on the SAH to make the beds in the morning.

Believe me: at the end of my marriage, there wasn't a heck of a lot of housekeeping being done. Nobody suffered lasting damage. Imagine if I had done for one month what Hannah was able to do (ie, not do) for over a year -- the financial consequences would have been significant. If I'd done it for three months, they'd have been huge, lasting, and traumatic for the kids. The respective roles and the level of responsibility are just plain not the same.

And it doesn't matter anyway. Let's say FTSOA that both standards are in the heads of the respective people, and are entirely arbitrary. The BW is *still* supplying the basic needs (ie, food & shelter). I never said an exhaustive and logical analysis determines that the BW is more important -- if you recall, I said "...Most of the things the worker provides come earlier on the list of necessities, so it shouldn’t be surprising that his/her contribution might be viewed as more critical."

As to "...a clean, healthy, structured environment, with regular meals..." -- that's all very nice, and of value, but it's NOTHING TO DO with the things that might have "life-long and generation-spanning consequence". Life-long and generation-spanning issues exist -- and they're critical -- but they fall under the category of "parenting", which I already conceded is a special and potentially very stressful activity. And the most crucial pieces of parenting are love, nurturing, teaching -- emotional stuff -- NOT meals at 6pm, tidy bedrooms, and trimmed toenails.

All for now. Thx for your comments.

 
At Mon Sep 18, 12:46:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Cal said...

Ok. You're right about most of that.

- I have understated the impact of financial upheaval.
- I confess to some confusion about your initial post's primary point. Your opening paragraph states that while homemaking is as "important" as anything we do, it's less demanding... but then then you introduce your list of reasons why it is "valued less than market work". Still not sure if it's mostly about a comparison of a) difficulty/pressure, b) real value, or c) perceived value.
- I suppose some of the benefits I cite (structure, order, health) are as much "parenting" as they are other things (actually, tho, that's probably your fault, since you're the one who tried to cheat by separating out parenting anyway. So we'll blame you there. ;-) )

My primary point was this:
While there ARE hungry people, and homeless people, in this country... you are not going to be among them if you're late with an RFP. If you're late enough times, you may need to move down a notch economically, but none of Maslow's big stuff is going to be denied your family (unless you're unemployable). Whereas, raising your children in squalor MAY actually deny them life skills and social awareness that could have life-long consequence. (I don't think your example of your last year of marriage is representative, since a) you assumed many of the duties H abandoned, and b) your kids had already been raised to understand basic concepts of hygiene, and were old enough to do chores and to be essentially self-sufficient meal-wise.)

I objected that you seemed to be comparing unmade beds to starvation, as if those were the consequences of a complete abdication of responsibility by the respective roles. When in reality, the respective consequences are neither as benign nor as catastrophic.

All that said, however, I concede that if both members WERE to abdicate... if you compare homeless to squalor... that homelessness wins, which is in line with your original point.

 
At Mon Sep 18, 09:03:00 AM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

Well, thank you for seeing some things my way. Usually when we argue we hammer away with our points, even if we don't completely agree with all of them 100%. Or maybe that was just me that does that. Either way, you're confusing me by being conciliatory. ("Mr. Debakey's free, but...")

But anyway, since we're conceding things, you're right that:

- ...you are not going to be [hungry, homeless] if you're late with an RFP.

- [I] seemed to be comparing unmade beds to starvation, ... in reality, the respective consequences are neither as benign nor as catastrophic.

I should mention one other unrelated thing here: I'm not sure if Hannah actually realizes/remembers the extent to which she "checked out" during the last few years of our marriage. There were months when her depression was so bad I was doing virtually everything on the weeks when I was home. I think sometimes she was in so much pain she didn't really notice what was going on around her (and occasionally, so medicated that some of that time is a blur).
But it should be said that during the vast majority of our marriage she was a top-notch SAHM, and worked really hard. Of course, I thought she spent too much energy on the wrong priorities, but she was not a slacker. It was only at the end that she no longer had time for much other than the activities that kept away the depression.

 

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