Father’s day is in a few days and as such, I thought now would be a fitting time to show my gratitude to the man who cleans the refrigerator, bathes the children, mows the yard, buys the groceries, teaches the kids to play ball and ride bikes, and cooks our meals. Just what is it that I do here anyway? Seriously, if something happened to him or we split up, the girls and I would sit on the couch all day, in our pajamas, just waiting for someone to come by to bathe and feed us. Recently, it took me four hours to get the kids and myself ready to meet family at a restaurant for lunch. FOUR HOURS! For one meal, not even a fancy-get-all-dressed-up-and-wear-tights-and-ruffles meal. Just a salad bar lunch. I was exhausted, almost too tired to eat. Almost.
But I digress.
His status as my very own superhero is a recent and rather surprising development. When we first moved in together, I was the driving force of productivity. I paid the bills, cleaned, did laundry, watered the plants, organized our possessions, filed papers, and otherwise managed our household with swift efficiency. And he, if I’m being honest, excelled in the art of leisure. We got married and the same system continued for a bit. During this part of our relationship, he would tell me, “You’re driving yourself crazy trying to get everything done at once. It will eventually get done, it always does. Relax, put your feet up. You can do it tomorrow.”
Around the time I became pregnant with our first child, I must have started listening. I found that I not only couldn’t do it all anymore, I also didn’t really want to. I had other things to do now that seemed more important than keeping a perfect home. You know, things like attending baby showers, doodling baby names on scrap paper, and sitting with my swollen feet up, watching the second season of American Idol.
Now, two kids later, I seem to have truly taken to heart his message about not having to get it all done myself. As I have relaxed (i.e. stopped cleaning my house and preparing meals), he has taken the driver’s seat in several areas, including money, cleaning, and cooking. As things have shifted, our conversations about housework have shifted too. He no longer tells me to relax or put my feet up. Instead he says things like, “Did a velociraptor get loose in the house again today?” and “We’re awfully close to achieving our goal to dirty Every. Single. One. of the dishes. Maybe we can wash some soon?” Or my personal favorite, “Hey Nik, Mt. Laundruvious tipped over. Again.” (Mt. Laundruvious is the incredibly witty nickname we’ve given the ever growing pile of laundry we no longer fold or put away.) None of these things are said with any malice and I generally look around at the cluttered mess and laugh along with him.
What this shift in our household division of labor has shown me is that where I have relaxed (thrown in the towel) he has picked up my slack. It’s a relief to know that if I am ever out of commission for some reason, he’s got my back. I like to think I would do the same for him if needed. I’m getting pretty good at leisure though, and I’m not sure I can unlearn this new way of life. But at least for Father’s Day, relax Super Dad. You’ve earned a break and my undying appreciation. Put your feet up; it will eventually get done, because remember, you can always do it tomorrow.