Monday, April 7, 2014

Bonbons and The Magic Dresser

I do not work outside the home to contribute to our family's finances.  For most of my marriage, that is how it has been.  It is what DH and I both wanted, and what we agreed on, before we were even married (back in the days when he was a full time student and I worked two part time jobs totaling 40-60 hours a week).  Our goal, once he graduated and we got married instead of shacking up together (yes, yes we did.  Sinful people we were.), was that I would stay home, keeping house, tending children and caring for DH.  He would go to work.

Or, in the words of some, he would do all the hard stuff (ie. making the money), and I would stay home eating bonbons and watching soaps.

Which is laughable, as anyone who knows me well knows that I'm not much at all for watching television, and I abhor soap operas.  Plus, anyone who knows me, knows that I spend my days in a whole lot of physical labor type stuff--the barn/livestock chores, the garden chores, the cooking and baking, the canning, etc, etc.  Hardly on the couch with my feet up, taking it easy all day.

Also laughable is the other side of the coin--the feminist side, usually--that says I am being repressed by having to live in a traditional female role and not being allowed to pursue my own career and fulfillment.

Laughable because my greatest goal in life has been to not work for someone else, but to be self-employed. As well as to stay home to raise my kids.  To do what I want to do: a career mother, if you will, in that the career I wanted was to be an at-home mother, and then, when that was passed, to have my own business.  Not at all repressed.  Very much doing my own thing.

That is not to say I have never worked outside the home in the nearly twenty-one years that DH and I have been married.  I have, actually, for most of our married lives.  First, because we really, truly needed me to, when DH lost his job early in our marriage and we had bills to pay.  This actually happened twice in the first five years we were married. Then, because I wanted to, in order to be able to be involved with horses, which are my one true addiction in this world.  When I had to work, I worked whatever hours were required, and the children had to adapt and go to daycare.  When I have wanted to work (for the horses), I have tried to keep that work during school hours only, being at home for my kids when they were not in class.

In return for this ability to not be first and foremost at the beck and call of an employer instead of my family, I do a large share of the running of things at this little place here.  The lion's share of the housework and the garden and the farm-type chores.  I am the appointment scheduler, the chauffeur of the children until they have their own driver's licenses.  I keep the books and make sure the bills get paid.

DH does the rat race and office politicking that I have never cared to do.  He makes all the money that pays all the bills. In return, he doesn't do the secretarial or accounting work, nor the housework, and never does the laundry.

Funny story there, involving me birthing DD2 and DH happening to be the one who loaded the dryer right before it decided to overheat and melt the elastic in everyone's underwear.  So he found himself with a wife and newborn daughter in the hospital, a burnt up dryer, a smoldering mess of cotton and elastic, and three young children needing him to feed them, put them to bed, get them up again in the morning, feed them again, make sure they got dressed, take one to 3rd grade and one to preschool and keep one (DD1 the three year old at the time) with himself while he went shopping for new underwear for the entire family and be back from that in time to pick up DS2 (the four year old) from preschool, then rush to pick DS1 up from 3rd grade at the end of the school day and take them all to the hospital to see their Mommy (me) and new baby sister (DD2).  Apparently it was quite traumatic for him.

That was about the time the Magic Dresser came into being, although it didn't receive it's title until a couple of years later.  You see, DH is the only one in our house who only has to put his dirty clothes into the hamper, and then never touch them again until they are clean, folded, and in his dresser (or closet) ready for him to wear.  Everyone else has to wash their own clothes, or at least, when they were too young to operate the washer and dryer, to take their clean, dry, and folded clothes--courtesy of Mommy--and put them away.

I confess, it was during an argument with DH one day, years and years ago, that I coined the phrase 'Magic Dresser'.  It was one of those typical husband and wife arguments over who's life is easier and who does the most work.  He was stressed over stuff at work, and telling me how good I had it that he provided for me and I didn't 'have to work' (also exacerbated by talking with some of his buddies, all of who's wives worked outside the home).  I had been through a pretty rough several days with the kids and trying to keep up with everything, and I countered the 'you don't work (outside the home)' complaint with "Yeah, well, those guys who have wives that work don't have Magic Dressers!"

A Magic Dresser being one in which every time you open the drawers, there is everything you need to wear.  You never have to refill it, you just take stuff out of it, and day after day it magically replenishes itself with clean clothes.

He and I both knew who made the Magic Dresser operate as such.  It was me, the laundress, the ever loving, hard working wife, who took his dirty apparel from the hamper to the washing machine and washed it.  And from the washing machine, put it in the dryer, or hung it on the line, and dried it.  And then retrieved it, dry, from the dryer or clothes line, sorted and folded it, and carried it back to his dresser and put it away for him.  He never had to think about laundry, never had to plan ahead time in his schedule to make sure he'd have clean underwear and socks (and shirts and pants) from day to day.  He never even had to buy underwear, his own or anyone else's, after that one traumatic day in October 1997. . .

Since then, I have heard a few of his friends make reference to "Magic Dresser" from time to time, so I know he must have relayed that concept to them at some point after the day I spat the phrase in a heated moment.  They always say it in awe.  Which, I think, is how it should properly be used.  In awe.  With respect, and wonderment.

Just like when I tell overbearing feminists that I get to sit and eat bonbons all day.

My figurative bonbons are a special thing.  Not too many women aren't required to bring home a paycheck.  Magic Dressers, in this day and age, are also a special thing. Not too many husbands never have to do laundry.

That is what DH and I have together: a special thing.

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