The Benefits of a Domestic Revolution
Even as I try to grapple with my negative feelings about Pat's totally awesome success, I do see the many benefits. Our household is part of a domestic revolution in which old norms are upended on a daily basis. My sons witness Daddy doing the laundry and Mommy going to an office, so they don't perceive work or responsibility to be exclusive to one sex or the other -- except for dusting because, as they've pointed out to me, I'm the only person in the house who actually sees the dust.
I walked in from work today to find the house a wreck. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich sat, plateless, on the edge of the coffee table. I sighed and looked around for someone to blame, but no one was in sight.
Laughter erupted from the bedroom. I sighed again and followed a trail of plastic animals through the hall to find our pup tent erected in the middle of our bedroom. The whole structure wobbled from the disjointed elbows and feet that pressed against the fabric so that it looked like an animated being -- one that giggled. I leaned down to unzip the tent.
"Oh, hi, Mom," said Spencer, sitting next to his father and younger brother. They were all in their underpants. "We're picking teams," said Spencer, "and Murphy wants to be a Bear and a Colt."
They laughed hysterically as though the idea was preposterous and therefore hilarious.
"A Bear and a Colt," I repeated. "What's the matter with that idea? Can't he be both?"
"Mom," Spencer said, "You definitely can't be both."
I got it and smiled.
"Why'd you all take your pants off?" I asked.
"It's hot in here," Pat said.
Right. I stifled my practical mom urge to ask -- then why are you in the tent? Instead, I crawled in with my guys. Practicality and heat be damned. It felt good to be home together after a long day.
Originally published in the March 2010 issue of Parents magazine.