The Competition that Can't Be Won

"Oh. Alright, then. I did not realize you would be doing projects after work again tonight. It must be nice to be able to automatically assume you have childcare when you want to get something done. You'll have to tell me what it's like sometime." The first sentence was spoken in normal tone, the second, under my breath but both were heard in crystal clear fashion by the man I love and occasionally loath for his ability to be a man.

"I see. Well, I apologize for working to improve our home instead of being at the bar with my buddies. It must be really hard to have a husband who cares enough to improve the place he lives." The sarcastic icing smothered his words, the ones spoken as the first thought and those as an after one, hung heavy.

I stepped aside in my fast paced darting to and fro for him to pass by, breathing a heavy sigh to help communicate my further point that not only was he enjoying a life of assumed freedom in his project doing, but I was also running circles around him WITH five children around, under and through me. This is what I do all day, every day, while he works with high-functioning, even interesting adults and takes quiet drives with NO miniature people in his truck bed asking him 2.5 questions every minute of the live-long day. All this huffing and puffing, even with the knowing that he is "just a man" (as he often said) and would not be able to translate my complex thoughts from words left unspoken.

Nothing like the long days of summer to set the stage for conversations of the heated kind.

Welcome to the Competition That Can't Be Won. Perhaps you are familiar with it? Maybe you once considered yourself a bright person, only joining in on contests that were fair and could be potentially won with winning colors. Me too. And now, even as I enjoy my place in a small minority (with a husband who truly loves and takes care of me, which makes me eligible for a well deserved slap across the face from wives who live with a certifiable sap), when worn down with the task of mothering (particularly in the summer), I am remarkably quick on the chart-keeping, score-marking, eye-rolling sprint that has no discernible, winning end.

It must be said, that this conversation was from this morning. Not last month, or six months ago when I was less wise, submissive and kind. I think I could be far more wiser, submissiver and kinder than I am now, and my human nature would STILL push my ego to wave in eager participation when the circumstances for the "Who Works Harder" competition set themselves up. Selfishness will always be tempted to respond to it's opposite nature, not matter how time has told you it won't end well.

There is an obvious TRUTH which has remained unmoved from the beginning of time: 

There is a vast difference in the nature of men and women.  We cannot be the same, nor should we expect each other to be.

There is also sensible-sounding LIE that has been perpetuated in women's magazines and relationship books in the last thirty years and it is this:

THE MANAGEMENT of a HOME can be SPLIT EVENLY and SHARED between men and women. I recently read an excerpt from a popular author about this being possible. And in her case (with no children), that MIGHT be able to be true. But otherwise, no.

And it's not the man's fault.

I have learned (but yet to consistently, graciously accept) that multi-tasking is not in a man's nature. Providing? Yes. Protecting? Absolutely! But being able to make dinner, break up fights, clean up the crusty urine around the toilet base, wash hands, resume dinner and text back a friend all within the same two minute time frame? Nearly impossible...not without a beer and nap soon afterwards, anyway.

This is HOW WE ARE. This was how we are DESIGNED to be. And God is FOR US being a team, and is willing to help me (and he) with the specifics of our unique pairing.

And yet, I grow (quite) visibly annoyed at time when I'm pushed to my limit (and perhaps, possibly, MAYBE have a slight touch of PMS symptoms) because I want him to KNOW HOW DARN HARD I WORK when he is HERE and when he is NOT. I have been known to grow giddy with delight at the thought of him drowning in domesticity while I tour Europe for a month. This is sad and unfair, but true.

He feels unappreciated and disrespected when I act like his job is a cake walk and consider it "down time" when he's busting his hot ass to make money for us to live off of.

You see?


This is the part where most thoughtful bloggers write a sound ending, complete with scripture and a prayer we can all pray together (eye roll) in italics.

At The Coffee Cottage, I am sitting here on my backyard swing, typing as I watch children throw mulch into a rubber cesspool from KMart, I am merely closing with this:

Dear Jesus. I am a human woman who loves my husband and who doesn't want to turn into a female goat (rhymes with "twitch" for those purer than I) in the process. We weren't made to carry out the same roles. Please help me to embrace and be empowered in mine  and grateful for the ways he does the same. Help me do this right NOW and tomorrow morning. We'll deal with the next twenty years as we are given them...which is day by day. 

And, I want to add, just for those don't know "us", I love this good man more than life itself. We (particularly me) just simply happen to be really good at being....human. It's our specialty I guess you could say.


With Love from The Coffee Cottage,


Anonymous said…
I love, love, love this.
Sonja said…
Thanks, Jeane. I needed to read this.
Jaime said…
Jeane', thanks for being real. Everything you said is so true and has come out of my mouth in some shape or form. I am finding out that just because i work outside the home does not mean it relieves me of the work inside the home when I get back. Generally, I find my dishes are done and my child is dressed (not all days!) and fed but laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc are still waiting. I'm grateful for the things Peter does do and every now and then I get surprised but the multitasking gene is missing! We are truly different creatures :)
Oh, yeah. Oh MY, yes. Too, too, true - too much of the time. *sigh* I don't know why it so often helps to know that someone else is working through the same (old) stuff, but it does. Thanks for sharing, and "me, too!" :/ Guess it's time for me to work on my gratitude muscles again...!
Carla McCord said…
I enjoy your blog even though the kiddos are long gone. It often stirs up many memories, but I find your insight fullness beneficial in my life in a multitude of ways. Keep up the good work!
debi said…
Good bits of wisdom delivered so honestly...Loved it!

momstheword said…
So very true. Men compartmentalize and just kind of do one task at a time. And often, men see taking care of their children as babysitting, not parenting.

I told my hubby that he had his job which was working during the day, and I had my job which was watching the kids, and that when he came home - we shared the parenting.

He was really good about watching the kids during dinner prep so that I could prepare dinner in peace. I think he realized that dinner got done a lot faster, haha.

When he watched the kids while I went out for the evening that is ALL he did at first. It never occurred to him to have them pick up their toys and it never occurred to him to clean up the kitchen after dinner either. To him, he had ONE job and that is all he focused on.

I remember the first time I asked him to take both kids to the store with him. He said "Both? You want me to take BOTH? I can't take both kids to the store."

Then I reminded him that I took both kids to the store with me all the time, lol!

Dads are good at focusing and tuning the kids out as my husband has readily admitted, and they may not multi-task well.

But they have so many other wonderful qualities that God has bestowed them with that compliment us well!
Rachel said…
Haha..I seriously laughed out loud as I read this! So nice to know that others who have been married for awhile also have those types of conversations/thoughts :) But, like you, I love my husband very much, and am so thankful for all he does! Wishing you strength in letting the Lord change your human-ness into Christlikeness (not sure if those are actual words but hopefully you know what I mean! :))
Rachel said…
Haha..I seriously laughed out loud as I read this! So nice to know that others who have been married for awhile also have those types of conversations/thoughts :) But, like you, I love my husband very much, and am so thankful for all he does! Wishing you strength in letting the Lord change your human-ness into Christlikeness (not sure if those are actual words but hopefully you know what I mean! :))

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