I was so busy yesterday The Husband offered to lend a hand with some household chores so we could get everything crossed off the list by the appointed hour. I don’t know why that surprised me so much – he generally is helpful and willing to assist in any way – but it’s rather unusual for him to offer with yucky chores like vacuuming, laundry, and sweeping.
It was when he was in the midst of vacuuming the living room (I honestly cannot recall the last time I saw him using the indoor vacuum. Garage Shop-Vac definitely. Rug vac, no.) that I had cause to reflect on the division of labor in our marriage.
The vacuum has smelled kind of musty for awhile now, though I have actually changed the bag regularly. But I never thought much about it. The Husband, with his almighty obsession over his allergies, couldn’t stop complaining about it yesterday. And then we both noticed a burning smell emanating from the yellow sucking machine.
Husband’s chore list was immediately diverted to “repair the vacuum.” As I worked in the kitchen, I heard him muttering, with occasional accusatory comments:
“Haven’t you ever checked this belt?”
“When was the last time you cleaned the hair off the beater?”
“Why is this filter so filthy?”
Having been married for 28 years, I knew better than to get involved in this conversation…but of course I couldn’t help myself. My answer: “What on earth makes you think I would ever in a million years think to turn the vacuum upside down, take it apart, clean and fix it, and put it back together again?” In other words, “Shut up, fool!”
He knows perfectly well that I do not do this sort of thing. I have no idea how any machine ever created actually works. My answer, and I will stand by it to the end of my days is, “It’s magic.” (This is especially true of sewing machines. Pure wizardry.)
The Husband and The Boy, on the other hand, can look at any piece of machinery and immediately know exactly what it looks like on the inside, what might be going wrong, and how to get inside it to fix it. The Husband was doing maintenance on his parents’ cars while in grade school. The Boy at age 3 looked at the pneumatic tube that closes the screen door and launched into an explanation of what it contained and what causes the whooshing noise when you open and close the door. At age five he looked over a broken TV/VCR for about 15 seconds while The Husband had it apart, then pointed to one spot on the circuit board. “It’s that right there. It’s not connected.” Yup.
My skills on the home front are not nearly as interesting. I can plan a week’s worth of meals, shop for all the groceries, and have a meal on the table every evening. I can keep the household running and relatively clean and tidy without much thought. Hardly rocket science. However, both Husband and Boy would starve in a heap of filth left to their own devices. Interestingly, we have one daughter who’s pretty much in my camp on this issue, and another who is fairly comfortable wielding power tools and yet is useful in the kitchen and knows how to keep the laundry and dust under control. I can take some comfort in the fact that at least one of our children is breaking stereotypes.
And so I have my jobs and Husband has his. I admit to occasionally losing my cool when he truly cannot figure out how to make a sandwich (no exaggeration). So I suppose I shouldn’t complain over his ridiculous questioning while he had the vacuum apart yesterday.
Division of labor: The only math I actually appreciate.