Warning: This might come across a skoosh maudlin when I am building up to my point, but it's not supposed to be. DO NOT READ THIS AS MAUDLIN. Thanks!
Every so often, the boy and I stumble into a talk about gender roles in our household. I think that I've come out of the gender closet and admitted this before, but, unfortunately, our household is usually your typical American household as far as gender roles go. That is, it appears to be that way. I make the food...I run the vaccuum...I dust every now and again when I am trying to avoid doing something else less fun...I get the groceries. The boy mows the yard...the boy "brings home the regular paycheck" (gag)...the boy makes the clothes dirty...the boy washes the car. I'm kinda choking on my own embarrassment as I read that because it definitely gives off the impression that we align ourselves into traditional roles that are (we believe) pretty darn archaic.
But I'm only throwing out a couple of points there to set this up. I was making dinner and the boy was changing the oil on the lawn mower in preparation for last night's inevitable first yard mowing of the year. That's as traditional as it comes, right? Well...the boy walks in with a bit of a swagger and does a little bit of proverbial chest thumping as he proudly declared that he vanquished that lawn mower and finally (after 8 years) figured out how to change the oil the correct way (i.e. the way that the manual says to do it) rather than some curse-inducing jerry-rigged way that he has always otherwise done. When I, ever so lovingly, called him out on his pseudo-manliness, his I-am-man-hear-me-change-oil-roar, he laughingly remarked something to the effect of "Well, if I wasn't here, what would you do about it [changing the oil]?" We all know the answer here, don't we? I wouldn't do anything. I wouldn't even think of it until something happened to the dumb thing and I was left with a smoking machine and half mowed lawn (and grass stained tennis shoes...I always forget that happens).
I do think of this basic scenario every so often. What if he or I wasn't around? What would the other person do in order to handle all of the basic day-to-day STUFF that someone must do? As I finished up my batch of whatever, I enjoyed a moment of speculation. It went something like this.
6:30 a.m.: The boy finds himself in the kitchen with 2 small fry who are talking over each other as he tries to scramble eggs and make toast for everyone, who all want something righththisverysecond.
6:45 a.m.: The boy would realize that there are no clean knives because he didn't start the dishwasher last night after collapsing from exhaustion the moment he shut the doors of two girls' rooms. When faced with the overwhelming sound of silence after a harried two hours of dinner-crazy play-bath-bed, you forget such trivialities as cleanliness. He uses the back of a fork as a knife instead and then realizes that he doesn't have anyone's lunches ready either. He starts to growl.
6:57 a.m.: Everyone has a hastily constructed PB & J because he wouldn't think to buy something like almond butter to switch things up a little on the monotony front. There are some sort of vegetable in everyone's lunch bag, probably carrot sticks (again). Yogurt, undoubtedly (easy). Cheese sticks (maybe if he noticed them at the store this week). Apples (washed, but uncut...doesn't have the time). Everyone has food, though it is nothing grand or un-boring. It's very boring. It's like this just about every day.
7:13 a.m.: Feeling his blood pressure rise, he manages to herd the littles out the door. There have been some tears by now, so he's looking forward to the relief of only having to deal with 100 teenagers all day. It's pretty much always easier.
5:12 p.m.: Dinner time is coming. The boy is laying on the floor while two pinballs bounce all over him. This is such a golden activity. The kids get their necessary contact with the big people, and the big people can all but fall asleep, so long as kids don't land on your throat (which hurts).j
5:32 p.m.: The boy looks at his watch and realizes it's dinner time. Drat.
5:33 p.m.: The boy stands with his head in the refrigerator staring. For minutes on end. The door, just open and whatnot.
5:42 p.m.: The boy found frozen vegetables and started making pasta with sauce. A decent solution. Acceptable. But the dishwasher has still not been run. Problems always arise.
I randomly chose to document his day, knowing that mine would be no better if I had to think on behalf of both partners. I'd be paying all sorts of bills for handymen/people who fix things to come make things right. So even though his stomach does add some weight to the weekly grocery bill, he definitely earns his keep fixing light switches and interpreting labels on over the counter medicines. And I have his back knowing the fine line between the right amount and too much salt in food as well as what, exactly, a Swiffer is.
Last thought: I realized in hindsight that I made a couple of typos in the last post. Thanks for your understanding and not chastising me publicly. In my line of work, you always feel the need to be hyper-vigilant of mistakes such as those because people just love to point out the mistakes of those who are supposed to know better. I'd be lowering my grade for those, absolutely.