Don’t Poke the Bear – Quick Quips about Chores

Marriage is the hardest damn thing I’ve ever done.

My parents made it look easy. They always seemed to be in love when I was growing up. As an adult, I see they fight and struggle – constantly. My mom has high expectations. Dad is stubborn. I’m a perfectly lovely mix of both.

My dad definitely embraces a happy wife, happy life philosophy. He’s an extraordinarily hard worker and seems to find satisfaction in the compromise (you know, until he doesn’t). Both my parents maintain extensive to-do lists with entirely different plans and wildly differing priorities.

When I was preparing to marry my husband, my dad’s advice was:

“You can never stop working on a marriage. There be times where you don’t like your spouse. People change. People grow. Your job is to always remember why you love your partner, and rediscover new reasons for liking them.”

Apparently the advice he gave to my soon to be husband was: “Don’t poke the bear.”

I recall sitting with an older neighbour years ago, as she shared where she thought kids these days were getting it wrong. Her thoughts were: “50/50 is a myth. There will never be an equal division of labour and responsibility. People have strengths and weaknesses.” Her recommendation, instead was “to en-devour to do 100% of the work, and then each and every time your spouse completes a task, you’ll feel gratitude.”

Yuck. I like the idea of a partner that’s in it to win it with me. Who can bend when I stand tall, or lift when I’ve fallen. That can be the yin to the yang and the hilarious to my way too serious.

Lately I’ve taken to asking my son what is a mommy job and what is a daddy job. Pink jobs versus blue jobs do not exist in our household, or do they?

Whose job is it to make a grocery list? – Mommy’s

Whose job is it to grocery shop? Mommy’s if it is more than bread, milk and bananas.

Whose job is it to clean the house? Mommy’s

Whose job is it to fix the car? Mommy’s and Daddy’s.

Whose job is it to fix the house? Mommy’s

Whose job is it to take care of babies? Mommy’s and Daddy’s

Who can have a career? Mommy and Daddy

Who can paint a house? Mommy

Whose job is it to do laundry? Mommy’s but Daddy can help

Whose job is it to wash kids? Mommy’s for baths and Daddy’s for showers.

Whose job is it to take care of a yard? Mommy’s

Whose job is it to pay bills? Mommy’s and Daddy’s

Whose job is it to buy us new clothes? Mommy’s

I always end these chats with a reminder that gender doesn’t determine responsibility. So, it’s fascinating to me that we (he) still re-calibrates and find a response that once again assigns a task based on gender.

As I continue to establish routine with the kids, I’ve been pushing to add responsibility in their world. Some days it works well and others its a disaster.

Each morning we make our beds. We’ve only been doing it for a week, but boy does it feel good to tuck them into a nicely made bed each night.

We collect all of the clothes that didn’t make it into a hamper at the end of the night.

We put everything in the playroom into a drawer or a bin before heading upstairs for bed.

We clear the table after each meal, including breakfast.

We put our shoes in the bins at the front of the door.

We all search for Mommy’s keys (of course she’s lost them AGAIN) and return them to the key box before bed.

We’ve started sweeping, mopping or vacuuming once each day. Sometimes the kids do it, sometimes I do it, but we’re all part of the process. We’re not striving for perfectly clean, we’re searching for better than we started.

It’s only been a week, but I can already tell these daily responsibility routines are building their confidence and their respect.

I still dream of being extraordinarily wealthy and having a live-in maid and chef though. I’m sure I could still teach confidence and respect while be waited on – truly.


Mrs Undad

Saying “have a good day” without saying “have a good day” at camp.

I’ve been trying to find a new way to say “have a good day” as I leave my son at day camp each day. I don’t want to nag. I don’t want my words to get lost in the routine hustle of day-to-day.

So far I’ve used:

“Be the kid I know you are.”

“Be the love you want.”

“Be the kid you’d like your sister to be.”

“Be the kindness we all need”

“Be the friend someone’s waiting for.”

“Find the smile in everyone.”

“Treat the day like there’s a cookie behind every corner.”

We’ve got 7 days of camp left, wish me luck.


Mrs Undad

Can We Just Take A Moment?

The air has been filled with noise lately.

So much noise.

The radio, like the comment section, is an angry buzz of change and frustration.

People are stretching, just as others are huddling.

How’d we get here?

We’re stuck in these endless cycles of “busy” and just “one more sec,” “one more email,” and “one more hour.”

We forget to celebrate the good stuff.

For the last week the kids and I have been focused on new norms.

The kids are sleeping in their own beds. They are going to bed at the same time each night. They are awaking each morning at the same time. Our worlds are routine driven.

The littlest is in daycare for the month.

The oldest is attending day camp.

The kids are active and engaged. They are sleeping well. There is very little yelling.

Ok there’s some yelling, but none of the bad kind. Today, I demanded the oldest stop growling at his sister because it was scaring her and she wouldn’t stop screaming. That is until I moved closer and heard her gently whisper to her brother between screams “Growl again. Growl again!”

We’ve been making our beds each morning and putting our clothes in the hamper each night.

We are picking days to add routine to. So far we have Fried Chicken Monday, Mow the Lawn Thursday, and Funday Friday. The Undad was the catalyst with “Saturcakes” (pancakes) every Saturday morning.

Yesterday morning our alarm did its thing at 6:15 am. The sounds of selected 60s tunes from Calm radio filled the hallway. Two blurry eyed blondes stumbled into my room for love, cuddles, and snuggles. Our clothes were already laid out waiting for us. We had discussed the night before what we were having for breakfast. Lunches were already packed.

We dressed – NO arguments.

We headed downstairs – NO arguments.

We doubled checked that our lunch looked like we expected it would – NO arguments.

We got our shoes and jackets on. Put our dishes in the dishwasher. We wiped the table off. We headed out the door – NO arguments.

We had agreed, in advance, that everyone would climb into the car through the back hatch and then race to get into their car seats – NO arguments.

We dropped the oldest off at day camp at 7:30 a.m.. We had a silly walk race in. We danced our way out – NO arguments.

We drove to daycare. We dropped off bike, helmet, and baby girl. – NO arguments.

And then, guys, this is the best part. I made it to my scheduled 8 a.m. meeting ON TIME!!

No tears. No fights. No yelling.

I arrived at my meeting.

Other meeting people: “Good morning.”

Me “Good morning.”

Other meeting people: ” How are you?”

Me “So good. In fact, can we just take a moment and reflect on the fact that I somehow managed to get my toddler and preschooler to daycare and day camp with no arguments, tears, or bite marks? AND managed to arrive on time?”

We took a moment and rejoiced. We all seemed to understand this may never happen again. Parent win! We joked about what a-holes toddlers and preschoolers can be, sometimes.

So, a gentle reminder, in case you needed it, sometimes we just need to stop and take a moment. Do a little happy dance. Let another parent know they are kicking ass.

Today we celebrated how awesome the kids were and by extension, how awesome that made me feel.


Mrs Undad