5:00 AM – I am awake, looking forward to getting work done while the house is quiet.
5:05 AM – Little Miss Adorable is awake, calling me. She soaked her bed and baby dolls. I strip the bed, change Little Miss Adorable and retreat to the kitchen.
5:10 AM – Little Miss Adorable and I have our morning beverages (coffee for me & milk in a sippy cup for her). We work on cleaning her baby dolls. She wipes them with baby wipes.
5:15 AM – I let out dog. Neighborhood frogs (!) and birds are awake and roaring.
6:00 AM – Mr. Sensitive is awake. Commences fighting/playing/watching cartoons onNetflix. He refuses to eat breakfast.
7:00 AM- Baby Dunk is awake. I change his diaper and feed him.
7:30 AM – I am yelling at Hubby to get out of bed, NOW!! The day is half gone!
Ahh, Springtime. Bird song. The croak of frogs. Day Light Savings Time. Everything in nature is pushing for early morning rise and shine. Except Hubby. He has never been a morning person, so it’s frustrating when the whole household is awake and ready to go, and he’s still in bed.
But I need to remind myself that although ‘the early bird gets the worm,’ the night owl does the dishes and puts the kids to bed. It’s taken quite a few years but now Hubby and I have achieved some sort of household harmony. We try to work with our strengths. I cook and menu plan. I also schedule appointments. (The instant he hears it’s a doctor’s office calling, Hubby hands me the phone.) I do all organizing of time, space and stuff. Hubby does the heavy chores like laundry, vacuuming, and scrubbing the bathroom. He washes dinner dishes nearly every night.
To achieve this harmony I’ve had to tone down my expectations of both Hubby and myself. To say I can be a perfectionistic overachiever for all things domestic is an understatement. I have painted an entire basement by myself, and cut and installed new laminate flooring for it. I’ve changed door knobs, hung countless pictures and doors (!), patched walls, pulled carpet and grouted tiles. I am not afraid of power tools.
My linen cupboard is labeled. Bath towels, washcloths, bed sheets, duvet covers and blankets. All neatly folded and stacked in rows. The children’s dresser drawers are also labeled – three dressers, side by side with labeled drawers for socks, underwear, T-shirts, long-sleeves, pants, sweaters, pajamas (both matching sets and separates). Add a couple labels for Little Miss Adorable’s dresses and outfits and you get the picture. Oh, and a separate dresser for the children’s bedding, labeled Bed, Crib, Bassinette. God help you if you mix it up.
When Hubby and I were first married I did nearly everything – snow removal, trash, cooking, cleaning, and laundry. When he tried to do any chores he did a lousy job and I always had to redo it. Sweep the floor? I’d vacuum right after. Load the dishwasher? I’d reload it. Laundry was a nightmare – the only bonus was I got to go shop for new clothes after he shrunk all of mine. Oh, and the red-sock-in-the-white-laundry episode? We were feeling pink for quite some time.
When Mr. Sensitive was born everything was worse. Now I had that much more to do. Mr. Sensitive was a colicky baby who launched into early teething (at 4 months!) and was finally put on medication for acid reflux at 5 months. He screamed his way through his first year. I was stressed, unable to cook or eat and lost nearly 60 pounds in those 5 months. I was hungry and needed help. Hubby couldn’t help.
I was angry, resentful and thought he should try harder. So I wrote out instructions detailing how to clean the entire house in one day. He lost them. I gave explicit folding instructions for all garments. He balled things up and stuffed them in the back of the closet. He was working from noon to midnight and never around for the ‘magic hour’ of inconsolable crying. It seemed as though we were heading for divorce over dirty socks. What happened?
He had a two week break from work while I was on maternity leave with Mr. Sensitive. I was spending time living with my sister who could (1) keep a clean house and (2) help with the baby. Hubby came to stay with us. During those two weeks we hiked in forests with Mr. Sensitive in a carrier. Hubby spent time getting to know Mr. Sensitive and me again. We decided that his job was not helping our family.
We decided that Hubby should complete his college program so he could get a job that would allow him to stay with us during ‘normal’ hours. The only option was to go to school full time, so this is what he did. He quit his job, we sold our house and downsized.
Downsizing became a liberty for all of us – I was hugely pregnant with Little Miss Adorable when Hubby received his diploma. A smaller home is easier to maintain while we deal with Little Miss Adorable’s challenges and is more accessible for Mr. Sensitive’s limited mobility. I began to realise there is more to life than a clean house and neatly organized stuff.
I often think back to how Hubby and I spent our honeymoon. We went on a canoe trip through Northern Ontario. I charted out course and steered the canoe. He paddled at the bow and carried it over portages. When we camped, I would set up the kitchen and cook, while he set up the tent and bedding. It worked. Team work, ebb and flow, give and take.