Here I was, exactly where I would have never guessed I'd be: standing in the kitchen, wrapped in an apron, my feet and back aching. I’d been preparing dinner for my husband for the past several hours, and I was…blissful.
That realization is what nearly knocked me off of my feet. The daughter of a feminist father, I grew up believing that slaving over a hot stove to prepare a meal for one's family was as backward as Chinese foot binding. Yet here I stood.
I grew up, got married, and settled into cohabitating with my new husband. I soon wanted warm meals at the end of the day and clean-smelling towels in the bathroom. And, like most women, I soon realized that if I wanted those things, then I would need to do them myself. According to a University of Maryland study, men do only about one-third of the housework. My husband tidies up when our apartment gets really messy, but I’m usually the one who notices dust and dirt, and both of us tend to ignore the building piles of laundry and stacks of dishes until we run out of socks or bowls. But at some point, rather than shunning these typical "sexist" household traditions, I found myself yearning to fulfill them.
The good news: I didn’t mind immersing myself in the housework, from cooking to cleaning. The bad news: I had no idea what I was doing. Our kitchen trash was frequently overflowing with take-out containers; we ordered in dinner several times a week. The bathroom towels emitted a not-so-fresh odor. Many women of my generation--a generation that went to school years after home economics classes were abolished--were never taught how to efficiently perform such basic and essential tasks. Housework was never part of the curricula--although I am grateful for the fact that my parents pushed me to get a good education and to learn how to support myself. But once the work day is over, somebody needs to make dinner. And wipe down the countertops. And make sure the bath towels aren't smelly.
To fill this gap in my own life, I decided to teach myself, and to at least temporarily take over all of the cooking and cleaning duties at home. I turned to the experts: Martha Stewart, Barefoot Contessa's Ina Garten, and even Dr.