Tuesday, May 22, 2012

So much for gender equity





If anyone would have told me that less than two weeks after I got my husband back, after being apart, against our will, for one year-- one year of dreaming really of nothing other than being a family again-- it would feel as if none of it ever happened, I would have told them they were higher than the moon.

So why does life feel so absolutely ordinary around here?

While it took me about a week of seeing Ian standing in our kitchen, our living room, sitting at the dinner table, even hearing him scold Isla for making such a colossal mess of her room, before I could simply accept it was really him, in the flesh--Esther is that really Daddy standing over there or should I go back to sleep?-- his presence has now melded into our worlds.

Right now, our world couldn't be more deliciously ordinary: Ian is mowing the lawn-- desperately, racing the rain. The girls are fighting. Isla has a friend over, it's a school day, and they are doing their best to keep Esther from stealing and reading their diaries. There is much slamming of doors and shrieking in faux indignation. I think they really do want Esther to read their diaries. Given that their "diaries" contain mostly scribble, they are Kindergartners after all, there is not much to be gleaned from them, but I can attest to the sense of excitement at the thought of secrets being revealed.

I'm pretending to work, but with one ear and half my heart tuned into the goings on around me, it's uselessly nonproductive.

Ruby is lying at my feet, stinking in that truly-nauseating old-dog way--stinking, panting, and whimpering and occasionally barking in that late-afternoon way of hers. I swear she has sundown syndrome, that same energy shift that causes the occupants of old folks homes to get agitated and babies to become inconsolable and housewives to reach for the vodka bottle. If I could give her a beer, I would.

The truth is, she can barely move. She's covered in tumors, she has a most-likely-cancerous mass growing in her belly and her quality of life is crap. The conversation, spoken and unspoken, ever since Ian got home and lay eyes on his beloved old Bitch, has been "How do we know when it's time?"

The very first night Ian was home, I had to talk him off the ledge so angry was he at the state of this house. Everywhere he looked, he saw signs of immature-college-student house abuse. Things like nails hammered directly into the beautiful beams up in the attic, thousands of tiny tack and nail holes where Jerry Garcia posters and patchouli-scented tapestries were hung and torn down and hung again. Rotten window sashes, broken casement window latches, dented sheetrock, cracked floor tiles, filthy tile grout--all the things I have chosen to overlook, for self preservation since we moved back in.

Between the state of his house and the reality of his dying dog, I'm afraid Ian went to bed that first night in a fog of overwhelmed despondency. He was better in the morning and, within hours of waking up, had revived our failing push lawnmower and the weed whacker, and caught and tamed our lawn just as it was transitioning, officially, into wild, unmanageable meadow.

As I stood at the window watching him, effortlessly starting the weed whacker, the one I had tried and failed to start several times last summer, I was hit with the utter unfairness of the sexes. While I realize if I had been truly passionate about getting that lawn mower and that weed whacker operating again, I could have figured it out, it just seemed maddening how "second-nature " mastering small machinery is to Ian. Instead of getting all inadequate, as I sometimes do in the face of his ├╝ber, well-rounded competence, I simply rejoiced in it and poured myself another cup of coffee.

Since he's been home, this is what he has done (Warning, this reads a bit like housewife porn):

*Fixed the lawn mower and weed whacker.
*Mown the lawn, twice.
*Whacked the weeds around the lawn perimeters and all the way down the driveway.
 *Cleaned out all the stinky, hairy, horrifyingly- disgusting sink and shower drains.
*Scoured the pots, I'm talking inside and out,
*Cleaned the oven--the guy removed the oven door and took a razor blade to the grunge.
*Scrubbed the stove top, removing more grunge from the burner frames.
*Scrubbed the tile grout clean, in the mudroom,, bathroom, front hall and kitchen, from dingy gray back to its original white. I've been mopping, but hadn't given a thought to taking a scrub brush to the grout.
*Rototilled the three-year-long neglected vegetable garden. 

Bonus points:
*Removed the annoying display- ad mode from our Vizio monitor which has been popping up annoyingly on the bottom of our screen every 20 seconds since the day I so proudly hooked it up. I have Googled it, read the manual, called Radio Shack--nothing could explain to me how the hell to get rid of that. He Googles it, picks up the clicker, done. It's gone. (We watched the original Swedish drama of The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, yikes, last night and could actually see the subtitles.)

*Put up our bed back on its previously unassembled frame-- no more sleeping on the floor for us. I have, literally, been lifted up. I am now enjoying elevated status. The joy of elevated slumber. I no longer feel like a lowlife, at eye level with the dust bunnies and the toilet through the open bathroom door, upon waking up. It's good

While I know there is more, I'm going to stop here for fear Ian will read it, be stunned and amazed at his productivity, and think he deserves a little time off.

10 comments:

Was Living Down Under said...

This post made me giggle. For all my feelings and rantings about "gender equality" I'm afraid I don't actually "walk the talk". I don't fix things, mow the lawn, unclog drains, etc. And worse still, he cooks, vacuums, organizes and even does our girls' hair in the morning. Not that I'm complaining... but if they thought about it, they might find that this "equality" thing isn't really working to their advantage? Except for giving birth to his babies, I often wonder what my purpose is in our family :)

It's so awesome Ian's back home with you guys. And it is funny how they fit right back in - like they'd never been gone. My partner's been home that last few weeks - he'll be on the road again soon... just as I'm getting used to not having to do everything myself :)

Was Ruby Ian's dog before he met you? Or did you get her together?

Kathleen Trail said...

It sounds like Ian is doing some grout repair on your family - he sinks right back in and fills in all those tiny cracks that were starting to form after so many months apart.

Wow, that does not sound romantic AT ALL, but it's just tragically funny enough for me to leave it in the post. Metaphor fail. :)

Stephanie said...

How utterly wonderful that he's back with his family. :-)

Robin said...

@Kathleen Trail--I love your metaphor. Not romantic, but neither is weed-wacking, when you think about it, yet I enjoyed a vicarious thrill reading Betsy's housewife porn myself. Romance aplenty.

Glad things are settling in so nicely, and I'm terribly sorry about Ruby.

Betsy said...

Kathleen: I love it. He is for sure the grout holding together our wayward tiles.
Was Living Down Under: We got Ruby together, three years before having kids, one year after getting married, I think. But she has always, definitely, in my mind, been Ian's dog. Though she is giving him the what for for abandoning her and is favoring me, big time, now. She's like my shadow.

AdrianneP said...

Thank you for the update! I've been wondering how life is now that Ian's home! Sounds fantastic : )

Adrianne

Anonymous said...

Lucky lady! There's nothing like housewife porn! I'm happy that everything is back to normal. I wanted to tell you that after being apart for 18 months as soon as my husband and I were in front of each other it was like it had never happened. Well, except for that occasional "Is he really standing right there?" feeling. It felt like he'd been on a business trip, but it was so soon forgotten. The reason that I didn't tell you that is because I know that things can be quite different for everyone. I didn't want to be wrong and upset you. I will say that it's still strange to talk to him on the phone, but at least I don't get that sick feeling like he's gone again.
It sounds like things are going great! I'm so relieved and happy for you.

KiminAZ

Liliana Holtzman said...

Ian is getting your life in order. The children are relaxing. I hear this happy sound in your writing.
Happy summer!

mooserbeans said...

"housewife porn" You made me giggle out loud.

holly said...

Yay! I'm so happy for your family that he's home!