I’m a recent college graduate who, like the vast majority of my generation, has found herself living at home while trying to save up enough to move out. I live in a large house with my sister, her two young children, and my aging parents. I have three other siblings older than I am. My two brothers live in the area and my oldest sister lives out of state.
My problem is the somewhat “uneven” distribution of household chores. I find myself spending an upwards of four or more hours a day before and after work cleaning up after my sister’s children, taking care of her dogs, and trying to get as much yard work done as possible. Every morning before work I clean up after my nephews’ breakfast, walk the three dogs, water the yard and perform a number of other daily household chores. My sister never seems to be able to clean up after herself or her children. I understand that she is a single mother who has recently gone through a lot, and that can be a tremendous struggle in and of itself, but more often then not she has her friend come over and help her watch the kids or hang out with her as she watches me mop the floors or sweep up Cheerios her children leave around the house. I think that during the time she has another set of eyes on her children, she could at least bother with sharing some of the household’s burdens. It’s a sensitive matter because, every time I even try to mention it, she becomes upset and shouts that I’m calling her a bad mother.
My two brothers are always “offering” to help me out more, but, when push comes to shove, they never seem to be able to make it. On days when they’ve promised and failed to show up because “something came up,” I’ll often see that they’ve posted photos of themselves on Facebook of themselves relaxing at some lake or out with friends. A lot of the work I need help with requires heavy lifting and, strong as I may be, I’m not physically able to do it on my own and really could use their help. They both have good-paying jobs and the means and time to help, but they never seem to make the time. I mean, for shit’s sake, my one brother works in landscaping and has easy access to lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, and all of the other tools I need to use to get the outside in order. I’ve been using an old rusted push mower for months now because we don’t have an automatic one at the house.
My parents are old and not in the best of health, so I know they won’t be able to help out — nor should they be expected to when they have five able-bodied children, two of whom live at home and two of whom live within a few minutes’ drive.
To make matters worse, my oldest brother, “Kevin,” stops around the house frequently to go jogging through the neighborhood, do laundry, or even just “borrow” food. I’ve begged him to take the larger of the three dogs running with him but he never has. I walk the larger of the three dogs twice a day, about two miles around the track each time and then I have to come back and walk the two smaller dogs. Rinse lather repeat twice a day every day. I pay for all of the dogs’ medical and daily expenses, and I’m the only one who walks the dogs even though they aren’t even mine! To make things even MORE irritating, often when Kevin comes over he jokes about how “neglected” the dogs and the house are. I do everything in my power and beyond to make sure these dogs are well taken care of! Even when I’m worn out from work, mopping, dusting, taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, changing the cat box (oh yeah, there are two cats involved here), sorting my nephews’ toys, and sweeping the floors, those dogs get walked and played with. I’m a big animal rights activist and I would never sit by and let the dogs or cats go unattended to. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night thinking the animals were left wanting. I know he’s only joking, but it still hurts. He gets to spend all of his free time doing what he enjoys and spending time with his girlfriend, but I can’t even find the time to see my boyfriend or practice my creative endeavors like music — which I went to college for.
I don’t make much money where I am now and I’m still willing to shell out as much as needed for cleaning supplies, dog supplies, and anything else. A few weeks ago I read something Kevin posted on Facebook about how “ridiculous” his parents home is, and I broke out in tears. It’s one thing to share a private joke with family, it’s another to post it on the internet for the world to see, and none of it was true anyway. My mother called him and tried to talk to him about it and he even left me a voicemail later with a half-hearted apology, but he and my other brother have yet to show up to help me with even some of the chores. Am I being taken advantage of here or am I being self-absorbed and jealous over my siblings’ freedom? What can I do to to elevate some of the strain? — “Tired of being Cinderella”