Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rhythms of a Household

In my house, there is no women's work or men's work. There is simply work. I was marveling yesterday at the patterns and rhythms Ruanita and I have developed after nearly thirteen years together. There are no questions anymore. No discussions about delegation of chores. We each have our "jobs" we are responsible for. Perhaps we chose these jobs. Perhaps they chose us. Perhaps they were thrust upon us. However it happened, we each know what it is we do. And we have becomes experts at the tasks we handle. Here is a sampling of the rhythm of our household....

  • I drive everywhere we go (probably due to my borderline control-freak nature). Ruanita is the ever-vocal passenger.
  • I cook. Ruanita does the dishes.
  • I pay the bills. Ruanita prefers to be obliviously ignorant of our money situation.
  • I buy the kids' clothes. She buys the kids' toys.
  • She washes the laundry. I fold it and put it away (after it sits in a basket for a few days, developing deep wrinkles that can't merely be "shaken" out).
  • She mows the lawn. I plant and tend to all of the flowers.
  • I am responsible for anything that requires assembly. She, wisely, leaves the room and stays out of my way.
  • She takes care of all repairs and maintenance on the cars. I turn up the radio when I hear an ominous-sounding noise.
  • I handle anything and everything remotely electronic. Ruanita asks Lucas how to use the television remote.
  • She plays My Little Ponies with Sophie. I play Mario Kart with the boys.
  • I schedule and attend almost all doctor/dentist appointments with the kids. Ruanita, for the most part, gets to avoid holding the kids down for shots and strep tests. (Though she did get a taste of Sophie's belligerent nature when she had to take her in for an unexpected strep test recently...it did not go well).
  • Ruanita cleans the toilets. I don't.
  • I do Lucas' homework with him. Ruanita colors and draws with Sophie and Nicholas.
  • Ruanita does Play-Doh with the kids. For the most part, I find Play-Doh and the unavoidable mess it creates to be an affront to my anal nature, and I refuse.
  • Ruanita makes the beds. I don't see the point. (Yes, Play-Doh mess bothers me. Unkept beds do not. Weird, I know.)
  • I do any and all painting in the house. Sometimes I will allow Ruanita to help, but she is not allowed to touch any trim work.
  • I open all beer bottles for Ruanita. She opens all jelly jars for me. (I won't venture a guess as to why I can open a beer bottle like a veteran bartender, but don't have the dexterity to open a jelly jar)
  • I do all of our grocery shopping. I am a bargain-finding phenom. Ruanita stays home with the kids so I can bargain-hunt in peace.
  • Ruanita gets the newspaper on Sunday mornings. I get the advertisements (the only part of the paper I read most Sundays).
  • I plan all of our social events and thrust them upon Ruanita. She begrudgingly complies.
  • Ruanita works full-time and makes more money than me. I work part-time and spend more money than her.
  • Ruanita vacuums. I forget how to turn the vacuum on.
  • I bake cookies, cakes, and pies. Ruanita eats cookies, cakes, and pies.
  • Ruanita knows where every single thing in the house goes and has an item put back in its place before I am even finished using it. I, on the other hand, know where nothing is and constantly have to ask Ruanita to help me find things. Her catchphrase when I can't find something is: You. Have. To. Look. My response: Why look when I can simply ask you?

These are the rhythms of our household. These are the patterns we have constructed that have, in turn, created the home we love. It's amazing to me how we have worked this all out. Through years of trial and error...lessons learned and barriers overcome...we have become a cohesive unit. Everything gets handled. Every tasks gets accomplished. There is no women's work or men's work in my house. But there are definitely Shannon's tasks and Ruanita's tasks. And amazingly...it works.


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