I’m so excited to have my first guest post from a reader of This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today. Well, in this case a reader AND a contributor. My friend Tod was so helpful while I was writing and you’ll find several quotes from him in the book. He was also present for the margarita night I held with several fathers described in Chapter 11. I knew Tod’s irreverent voice and perspective as a father would be perfect for a guest post this month when I wanted to focus on marriage and sharing family work, and he didn’t disappoint. Hope you enjoy it and take a look at his blog! Then join the conversation over at my Remodeling Motherhood Facebook Group too.
There is a glass casserole dish that is currently the bane of my existence. OK, well, maybe not the bane. But definitely a bane.
You see, when I do the dishes and put them in the drying rack, I’ll put them away the next morning. But I have an unspoken rule: “I will only put away dishes when I know where they go.” This rule works very well for the arcane tools that could either serve to frost a cake or well serve a medieval bloodletter. And since I didn’t get those tools out, it makes sense that I shouldn’t necessarily have to put them away. Plus, the frustration my wife displays when these tools turn up missing (usually because I put them in the wrong place) makes me wonder if, once found, she’ll first use them to decorate a cupcake or the other use mentioned above.
However, this unspoken rule is not currently serving me well with the casserole dish. You see, I used to know where it goes. I did. But there are cookbooks there now. And there are no obvious casserole-shaped holes anywhere in the cabinets. I’ve looked. But the ground I stand on here is a little shaky – it’s a casserole dish we’re talking about after all and not a closed star pastry tip.
So, I just leave it in the drying rack. And after a week of filling and emptying the drying rack around it, what I had always suspected becomes a hardened fact – my wife has an unspoken rule, too: “If you washed it, you put it away.”
So, here we’re stuck – husband and wife and their unspoken rules battling it out. Very quietly.
This stuff isn’t fun to talk about. On the conversation checklist, it falls way down the list below the favorites,
- Look at this cute thing your daughter did!
- You won’t believe who I bumped into!
- Did you see that dancing Wedding Video?
- Wait, what happened at work?
- Will you give the baths tonight?
- Did the repairman call back?
and the old standbys
- What do you want to do about dinner?
- When is that meeting again?
- What do you want to watch on TV now that the girls are down?
After all that, there is little energy left for
- Hey, hon. About this casserole dish…
But it has finally dawned on me that having this conversation is important. I might not have thought so a few years ago, but a friend of mine was writing a great book and really opened my eyes to all the assumptions that get made when things go unsaid. And even as “modern” as I hope my wife and I are on dividing work, I can’t help but notice that the default is that she deals with more timely and delicate issues, like getting the girls dressed and taking temperatures, and the default is that I deal with less glamorous issues or more laborious issues, like taking out trash or putting up Christmas lights. I am pretty sure the division would be roughly the same if my wife and I discussed it, but right now we are just falling into patterns rather than making a conscious choice. And that seems dangerous.
So, tonight I am going to finally have that conversation with my wife. “I love you. You are beautiful and you mean so much to me. Now, about this casserole dish…” And it may turn out that she doesn’t actually have an unspoken rule and she really could care less about a dish sitting around for a week.
But I care enough to find out.
Tod Cole is first and foremost a husband and a father to 7-year old and 4-year old daughters. He is happily trying to find the right balance in life and blames his inability to do so on the fact that his daughters keep growing on him. His friends, if pressed to describe his job, would say he “does something with computers.” He loves to run and mess about on the computer, but mostly in the sense that while he runs, he thinks about what he needs to do on the computer, and vice-versa.