A letter to my husband…
No, not the sweet kind where I tell you how proud I am of you or how lucky I am to be your wife. Though, yes…all of that is true.
It’s just that yesterday, I know I had a total meltdown over something that may be rated as a lopsided reaction-to-event moment. And I know we talk about this stuff – I do. It’s just that on top of everything else I do to keep our house afloat, the thing that often falls off my to do list first is asking anyone for help.
I suppose it’s because asking for help often means passing the ball. It often means reminding the receiver that they now have the ball. Several times. Eventually, those reminders are met with an eye roll or a telling sigh or even an I said I’d do it and I will! And I believe it. It’s just that when I pass the ball, the ball does not disappear from my thoughts. The ball is still there, floating around in my busy brain where it will stay until the task has a line of completion running through it. Until then, I will keep wondering about the ball and deciding if I should just take the ball back and handle the ball myself.
So when I totally flub something because I not only made a stupid mistake, but it was a mistake that I could have avoided responsibility for if only I had passed the ball… well, yeah…it often causes a surprise meltdown.
I wish I was more like you, my sweet husband. I wish I could pass the ball and immediately forget that a ball ever even existed. But that’s not how women work.
There are so many things that happen in our house. So many. I’m absolutely (mostly) positive that my male roommates are blissfully unaware that my female radar looks completely different from theirs. We’ve talked before about how, when driving up the driveway after some time out, I am sometimes met with a churning stomach as I know that the return to our “real-grownups-live-here!” house means a return of the dots on the radar. When we are out and about, I am able to remove myself from my house manager to do list. When we return, it’s like a floating, jumbled word bubble of tasks appears above our roof. I know that doesn’t happen to my husband. I know that while I’m sitting in the passenger seat thinking of chores and appointments and next meals, he is thinking about how cool it would be if he could see my boobs later.
I paid extra attention this week to the different patterns of our days.
We both get up at the same time. We both come downstairs at the same time. Our get up time is actually much more relaxed than previous days, thanks to a built in morning snuggle. This was created by my husband and does give us a good fifteen minutes of relaxation before we attack the day. It used to drive me bananas – laying in bed knowing that I had things to do. Now I love it and would recommend it to all couples. But yes, once the morning snuggle is over, we start the day at the same time and on the same trek to Destination Breakfast.
That is where our paths split.
I walk into the kitchen in search of all the goods to start my coffee. Typically, I have a clowder of cats waiting for my arrival as they feel that their breakfast should take priority over my coffee. I think this is bullshit, but often concede as one of the said cats will swat at me as I pass by her stalking spot. I get out the cat food, collect and fill their bowls, add probiotics to one bowl because it’s supposed to make the said cat nicer, then distribute to three different dog-safe places. Back to the coffee. Except that this is when I typically notice two dogs staring at me with looks of betrayal. I stop and give them each a dogbone. Back to my coffee. Except as I’m dumping out the previous day’s grounds, I notice how full the trash can is and make a mental note to empty it later, which I will forget until lunchtime. I poke around the house and dishwasher for my favorite/misplaced mug and finally pushed the start button. While the coffee brews, I often notice that the table hadn’t been wiped down after the previous night’s dinner, grab the sponge, and clean it. Which is when I also notice similar remnants on the counters – some Ramen broth here, some peanut butter there – I wipe those down as well. I haven’t had either of those food items in recent days, so I have to assume they were the result of an errant teen. As my coffee finishes, I collect the cats’ dishes and get out a bowl for my own breakfast. About fifty percent of the time I end up mixing my cottage cheese concoction with the same spoon that I used to stir up the cats’ breakfasts (a little extra protein is probably fine, right?).
In summary, my route from bed to breakfast takes up a whole paragraph.
My husband? He walks into the kitchen and thinks SPAM! He then cooks that spam with some eggs and sits down at his desk.
His route from bed to breakfast is only one sentence long. I will give him credit for two sentences, though, as he does empty the dishwasher if he’s got time.
And that is the major difference between our lives. I function in paragraphs, he functions in sentences. It’s not his fault though. The difference is often born at birth – determined by a blue or pink nursery cap. Women are born to multi-task, juggle, and jump through rings of fire all at the same time. Men will juggle…then jump through a ring of fire after a siesta necessitated by the juggling…and, multi-task? Pass.
Grabbing my coffee and cottage cheese, I work my way to my office (visible from the kitchen). On the way, I see Pizza Joe and try to remember the last time he’d been put to work. I put my food items on my top, dog-safe, shelf before scanning the downstairs for anything that Pizza Joe might gobble up while vacuuming. I pick up shoes, empty Arizona Ice Tea bottles (are we starting a collection?), relocate a sword, and move a frisbee. I push the button to have Pizza Joe start his day. And…I’ve made it to my desk…coffee a little colder, cottage cheese a little warmer. In the meantime, my husband has also moved to his desk where he is making sure his spam to egg ratio works out while watching SpaceX videos.
We both spend our days at work. We are both pulled in many directions by responsibilities to the business (the managers like to call it the business – are we in the mob or the royal family?). But while my husband’s “directions” typically center around actual work related items, mine are all over the work and family maps. I have two notebooks on my desk – one for home items, one for work. I have to keep two so that I can easily compartmentalize which part of my life I am managing when – though the tasks often bleed into one another in the name of efficient time management. It is not unusual for me to pound out emails to teachers while listening to work calls. It is not unusual to schedule appointments while waiting for reports to process. I may write thank you notes while listening to a training video. My brain radar looks like air traffic control the day before Thanksgiving. My husband’s brain radar looks more like air traffic control during the height of the pandemic when no one could travel. And yes, if I handed off some items he would gladly accept, but he is a one-thing-at-a-time kind of guy where I am bred to juggle chainsaws and balloons at the same time.
It is both annoying and adorable.
The weekends have a similar look. We wake up together, get up together and head downstairs together. I then approach my day with a go plan – as in how are we going to go into this week? What will dinners look like? How many workouts can I fit in? How will the Barlow Taxi Service be dispersed? What groceries need to be ordered to make those dinners come to fruition? When will my husband get to see my boobs? Who has to be where when? When will I find time to write? I do live by an overly defined calendar. He might even say that I’m slightly OCD, but it is the best way I know to wrangle all of those radar blips into a pretty picture. I know it drives my husband bananas – he would like to get up on the weekend with an empty day ahead of him…spam…boobs…a good pooh…playing guitar. I do try to keep our weekends as clean as possible as I am starting to appreciate moments of nothing. Unfortunately, we also like to keep our evenings clear during the workweek. One of the downsides of working from home full time is that there are no chances to knock out a couple errands on the drive home from the office. When we log out of work and leave our offices, neither of us do so with a desire to hop in the car and hit the Wally World. The result is often combining weekend fun with errands. Just yesterday morning, we wanted to take our youngest driving – it should have been a quick zip around the four mile circle that connects the roads around our house. But by the time this teen had the key in the ignition, we had added on a trip to Target for a last minute birthday present, dishwashing soap, and toothbrushes. The ten minute zip around the block became an hour-long journey that included the terrifying parental experience of wondering if the 15 year old knew that cars came with a brake pedal.
Women walk through life barraged by details, making mental notes of things-to-be-done with each step we take. It is why we are often exhausted at the end of the day. Even getting to bed has countless and endless detours. Last night, I went upstairs early thinking I’d lounge in bed and catch up in my stories before the rest of the gang started their bedtime rituals. As I came around the bed, I saw Pizza Joe. He worked upstairs yesterday and now needed to be returned to his home in the laundry room. Oh, the laundry room. We still had clothes in the dryer. I set down my things, collected Pizza Joe, reached for the laundry basket and…oh, the dogs’ water dish is empty. I reversed course to fill that up only to see one of the dogs staring at me from the spot where her bed typically lies. Where did I move that? It was in a heap of floor items moved out of Pizza Joe’s way earlier in the day. Water down, dog bed down, Pizza Joe cradled, laundry basket in hand, and back downstairs I went. By the time I’d wrangled all those blips, I was no longer heading upstairs early nor would there be lounging with Victor Newman.
My husband often references the never ending-ness of my list. Okay, if we finish these three items, is that it? Can we be done? Well, no, my darling, not exactly. By the time we finish those three items, five more will have popped up on the list. It is a living list that is governed by living people in a living environment. The blips on my radar are on the go fifteen hours a day and sometimes more if my brain opts for a three am planning session. At this very moment, I’m clickity-clackity-ing on my tiny phone screen so as not to wake anybody up while knocking off this week’s blog. It’s 6am. The house is quiet, but my radar screen is on the move.
No, my darling, the list never ends and, yes, that sucks. Just imagine being the one who holds the list in her head. Apologies for the recent meltdowns…you know the old saying? My cup runneth over?
Yeah…that actually means something different for me.
And, no, not those cups.