on strikeIt seems I am surrounded by labour strife.  The contentious replacement of NFL officials, the tiresome lack of progress in the negotiations between NHL owners and the NHLPA, and the squabbling between the Ontario government and both the elementary and secondary school teachers’ unions seem to be ongoing dinner table topics in our household.  I should also mention the most recent epic collapse in negotiations which saw me cracking under pressure and buying my 12-year old a strapless dress for a recent family wedding.  When will it end?  Soon enough I am sure for the athletes and teachers; probably not soon enough for my 12-year old and I.

However, the labour conflict that provided the highest relevance and entertainment factor to me was between Jessica Stilwell, aka The Striking Mom, and her children. Ms. Stilwell received quite a bit of notoriety when she declared a strike in her own household. She conducted a week-long experiment in her home free from picking up, putting away, cleaning, sorting, clearing, washing – most importantly – reminding and nagging. She made meals but only washed and put away her own dishes. Despite the fact that she had no teenage boys in her household , no pets that I could discern, and not a single hockey player among them, she still had a lot to write about.  Nevertheless, her reflections on her ‘week on strike’ are worth a read with your next glass of wine.

In thinking (and drinking) while I read her blog, I wondered…

How many times this week have you made a simple household request, and got the following answer: either no response at all or “Yeah, in a minute.” Kidspeak translation = “never” or “remind-me-every-two minutes-for-the-next-hour- until-you-threaten-to-ground-me-from-all-known-manner-of-social-interaction-for-the-rest-of-my-life- because-watching-your-blood-pressure-is-entertaining-but-will-soon-be-boring-and-then-I’ll-probably-do-it“.

And about as many times the same week, I would answer with the question, “I wonder what would happen around here if I took on that attitude?” I wouldn’t have the nerve, would you? Or the persistence. Or the patience. Or the budget for the post-apocalyptic cleaning bill.  I’m not really sure what would happen in our household if I took on this mission, because I simply do not posses the intestinal fortitude of Jessica Stilwell.  I do, however, possess astute scientific hypothesizing abilities and can predict what would NOT happen.

I’m pretty sure that the back door and the garage door would NOT ever be closed and remain open 24/7, making anything of value in our garage (including my Christmas supply of pinot grigio) entirely available to the neighbourhood.

I can say with some certainty that the dogs would NOT survive on love alone, would starve and die (although their life expectancy would likely exceed that of the fish and the hamster because the dogs, at least, know how to beg).

The toilets would NOT ever be flushed (unless I am using one; then for sure it will be flushed and then for sure it would overflow and then for sure I would be blamed for that).

All the lights in the entire house would NOT ever be turned off nor would the TV.

We would NOT have any tops for any of our tubes of toothpaste.

We would NOT have curbside garbage collection anymore because the garbage will NOT make it to the curbside.

Everyone would NOT have any clean laundry but on the upside, I will NOT run out of laundry detergent.

kitchen-messWe would NOT have any clean dishes from which to eat but again, on the upside, perhaps a new set of dishes for me is sitting under the tree (but, Honey, in case you’re reading, that would be pretty pathetic).

There would be NO dry towels in the entire house, though there would also be NO need for a humidifier with all these damp towels on the floor and beds.

There would be NO need for me to get my sports update from TSN for each newspaper would remain on the kitchen table spread open at exactly that day’s sports pages.

There would be NO milk in the kitchen frig because NO ONE will walk out to the garage to get more.

Oh, I know, many of you would suggest that I am to blame; that I have raised a household of slack and unappreciative dependents. In the end, I guess it the end the question really was a rhetorical one.  We all know that mothers were long ago declared an essential service without the right to strike. Meanwhile my right to seek redress for domestic grievances is – well – chilling in the garage.


What would NOT happen if you went on strike?

16 Responses to Domestic Labour Unrest …

  • My husband would NOT eat vegetables.

  • You must live at my house because you have described exactly, and I mean exactly, what happens here and what would happen if I ever went “on strike”. I don’t know how Jessica Stilwell ever had the fortitude to do what she did, but she is my new hero. In fact, I have threatened the kids that I am going to do the same thing she did. They just roll their eyes, because they know I don’t have it in me.

  • Hmm, may I suggest a well-timed case of the ‘flu? The stay-in-bed variety, rendering you most definitely helpless. This might flip the guilt switch of a few in the house, particularly if you stuff cheeks with cotton, and use a little lipstick on the forehead for that fever-from-hell look. A feeble, raspy voice might elicit some action from otherwise-busy offspring. A little web searching for the latest trends in cemetery markers might further get their attention.

    ‘Tis the season to get a little recognition. A new approach can bring some refreshing results and renewed appreciation for your efforts when not, well, sick.

    And you can rise, like the proverbial phoenix, when it suits. I suggest mid-January.


    • The proverbial Pheonix – love it!
      But even on my deathbed I am certain at least one of my kids would lean over, put a loving hand on mine, and whisper, “Where do you keep the ketchup?”

  • I drank red wine. A lot of it 🙂
    Truth be told, I am very type A. But I made a choice to leave it alone. Kids learn better hands on right?
    I was so sick of the nagging!
    The media had a hay day with people telling me I should have ‘trained’ them earlier. Duh…they have always helped out and they do know how..but now that they are almost teens…well, enough said right:)
    It was disgusting…but after making a joke on face book and then people asking me to write about it more publicly, I created the blog and it just became fricken’ funny to me.
    But the wine helped the most.
    Thanks for the shout out and the link lovin’.
    May the wine gods be with you..and Merry Christmas.

    • Jess, you are my new hero! Thanks for stopping by. Your posts were hilarious! I cringed in motherhood camaraderie. LCBO (or your liquour control board equivalent) should definitely sponsor you (and me too)! Merry Christmas to you – eat, drink and be drunk 😉

  • Astra, my kids are grown and have long ago flown the coop. However, when they are here for a visit, there’s no way on earth I can get my daughter to help clean up her dishes, do her laundry. My son, on the other hand is mostly conscientious. However, he does slip now and then and leaves his dirty dishes in the sink (though he does do his own laundry). Ironically, when my daughter is in her own apartment, she’s a neatnik and keeps everything tidy. Sigh. What’s a mother to do? I’m too exhausted to strike.

    • Your words are not encouraging! I was hoping for them to get better with age?! I’m beginning to think that rather than”strike” perhaps a “lock-out” is the answer instead 😉

  • Astra do you live in my house?! Creepy….

  • Astra – sorry for my delayed response. I started the year on bed – the icky sickness — and then I was on a road trip taking my daughter back to school. We moved out of the dorm and into her first apartment. Where was your Pinot Grigio when I needed the reinforcement?

    As for going on strike…I think about this often, and have in the past refused to do something out of principal because, frankly, I hate nagging. I never signed up to be a wench. No one has to tell me to pick up my dirty undies off the floor or not to leave the wet towel on the bed, which by the way, the hubby always use does so I left it there one day. Imagine his surprise when he crawled into bed that night and the sheets on his side of the bed were … well, damp and cold. I refused to get out of bed to change the sheets. After all, my side of the bed was warm and cozy. I know what you’re thinking. Evil. But heck, that towel is hung up everyday now. 🙂

    • I do not think you evil – you’ve more than earned your keep, wench – I would have done the same if my man had done so (but I apparently have more than a soft spot for my offspring)….
      Happy new year and thanks, as always, for stopping by!!

  • Astra, I’m certain that your kids and mine share DNA, along with all the other young adults in that age bracket. They’re all one big, conglomerate family! Oh my goodness, I’m exhausted. And by that I mean, I’m exhausted of getting anyone to do anything in this house. If this knee injury has taught me anything it’s that I cannot depend on the people I live with to get chores done on spontaneity alone. Instead, I wake up every morning to a cup of coffee and list making. Structure is vital if anything is to get done around here but really, there are days I’m too tired to even make a list and the house pretty much goes to the dogs. Other days, I’m convinced I would be more successful if I taught Roxy how to clean the toilet! hee hee! Yep, like Monica, I’m too tired to strike. Sigh. 🙂

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About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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