Him: Let's do a clean sweep.
Me: What's a clean sweep?
Him: It's when you clean the house as a team. You go from one room to another, knocking it out together.
Me: (Dumbfounded) Sure.
One Saturday morning, my husband announced that he wanted to do a "clean sweep" with me. We've been together for a long time, but we've never done this. We typically work on different parts of the house and cars alone. Most of the time that means that he's doing some sort of work on the yard or the cars, and I'm cleaning the inside. I didn't complain because that's how we just assumed that the work needed to be done. But this Saturday, he wanted to try to work together as a team on the interior of the house.
We worked from one room to the next in lockstep. We functioned well as a team and cleaned the house in half the time it usually takes me to do it alone. At some point in the middle of all the cleaning, I broke down and cried. I stood in the kitchen, with a dish in hand and a man by my side, and just lost it. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I didn't know that working like this was possible.
It hit me in that kitchen that I'd only ever seen a married couple in my family cleaning together once before. I visited some family in the northeast one Thanksgiving, and one of my parents' cousins and his wife cleaned up the kitchen together after the meal. I witnessed it and cataloged it as a sweet memory. But something happened to me when my own husband wanted to work together on domestic responsibilities. It healed something in me: the idea that "carrying" something alone in a partnership is normal.
I like to think I'm pretty progressive in my views about womanhood, but there are some bad assumptions about black womanhood I'm still trying to shake. I'm used to seeing our women shoulder a ton while our men just watch or take a break from whatever hell they are experiencing in the world. Most of the black women I know carry the domestic responsibilities alone, whether they are the breadwinners or not. I'm so used to black women being strong for everyone else that it touches me deeply to see someone caring for her, even if it's just by lending a helping hand.
I have the best life partner, but this one act of kindness revolutionized the way I see family.
I am not alone.
YOU are not alone.
Asking for help is an option.
We can support one another much more than we realize, and when we work together, we are better. We just are.
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