Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Cleaning House and Finding Clarity

Leonard and Remi. Their posture kind of represents some days of marriage, doesn't it?! 

I'm fortunate to have a husband who helps around the house. He does dishes and cooks meals, he does his own laundry, and vacuums the rugs.
It wasn't always like this; in the early years of our marriage, when Dwayne was still working long hours for the Department of Transportation, I did all that work because I was home.
Once he was off work due to his shoulder injury, however, he started to do more around the house. When I wrote Field Notes in the winter of 2016, and last winter when I wrote a novel, he gladly took care of everything to allow me to focus on my work.

At some point, though, I said to him, "I shouldn't feel like I have to thank you every time you clean the house or do the dishes. I mean, you live here too; it shouldn't be something special that you clean up. You don't have to thank me, I don't have to thank you. We're just doing what needs to be done."
To me, it was like making a big deal of a father "babysitting" -- when it's your kids, it's not babysitting, it's parenting!

Despite saying that, I've continued to thank him because it's feels like I'm wrestling to hold the words in. It feels weird not to say thanks. It feels weird not to acknowledge what he did, or to have what I've done be acknowledged.

This morning, when he headed out early to help his father get his day started (because his mother is in the hospital), I looked around and realized the floors desperately needed cleaning, and even though I had work to do, I postponed it to sweep and vacuum. It didn't seem fair to leave the chores for Dwayne to do even if I was working.
When Dwayne arrived home later and I wandered downstairs to see how his morning went, he said, "Thanks for doing the floors."
I shrugged. Why would you thank me when I live here too? Yet I appreciated his noticing.

This niggled at me -- why does it feels wrong not to express thanks for such mundane daily activities? -- so I let my brain work away at the question while I worked until the answer formed itself into a proper sentence: Thanking each other is who we are.
It has nothing to do with traditional gender roles or "babysitting" or equality. It's about the two of us.
It's the foundation of our marriage: Being thankful and expressing that thankfulness. It's how we CHERISH each other, and the marriage we have, and the time we get together. For me, it's about who we are and how we are together, and that's why it feels wrong to not thank him for doing the dishes or vacuuming the floors.
I'm not thanking him because he's a man and he's doing something out of the ordinary; I'm thanking him because he's my partner and this is how we live together.

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