Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Fly On The Wall

The conversation began as soon as they walked out of the school. “Grammy, we all talked and don’t think Dad’s girlfriend is as good as Mom with him. It would be odd for him to ever marry her.” I tried to be unexpressive and invisible. “We like Mom better.”

Well, evidently all of the neighbor kids had voted and with them Mom was heads and shoulders above the competition. Not surprising. They want their family back. Somebody took it, and they want it back.

“She does all the cooking and cleaning. I don’t like the way that the Daddy doesn’t have to do anything but work and come home and sit on the sofa and watch TV.”

The observations of children. What are they learning? What am I learning? Sometimes we think the children are doing well and into the groove we set for them without really knowing what they feel at all. I know this was true for my children. It is true for my grandchildren. I know it because I am the fly on the wall.

Sometimes we wives make a huge mistake by not asking more of our husbands. Sure staying at home looks like a walk in the park for the man who goes to work every day. And, why should he learn to cook and focus full time on his kids if he has women who does it him? No woman wants to wait on her family. She would adore having her husband wait on her.

Two way street, ladies. Yet, we women seem to automatically accept the kitchen, the house, the children and the laundry as our tasks giving the heavy work to the men. What do the children see? What do the children learn? They see Mom work hard at home and give their time to them. Hm. It doesn’t mean that Dad doesn’t work hard, but he cuts himself off at the knees if he doesn’t embrace sharing the work with his wife and children. It can actually be fun and make a marriage better. Researchers are finding that marriages are failing more and more because the use of the words “we”, “us” and “our” are leaving the vocabulary of husbands and wives.

Many older women have told me that their husbands do not know how to do the laundry, to relate to their kids or to cook. They are tired after all of these years of waiting on a man who sits on his duff waiting for her to serve him, take care of him. She wants a partner.

I always wanted a strong man who would fight for me, adore me, be my best friend and work beside me. Hm. That didn’t work. Are there such men? Are there such heroes for young children to emulate and admire?

There are lessons to be learned. Lessons from the innocence of children’s conversations.


  1. My oldest son is one such hero. He and his wife both work full time in professional jobs. They both cook, clean, do laundry, and parent their daughter equally. This seems to be the norm within their group of friends, too. My husband, initially in the 'Daddy doesn’t have to do anything but work and come home and sit on the sofa and watch TV' mode, has gradually transformed over the 34 years of our marriage.

    You're so right about the lessons we learn from innocence of children's conversations. They have a way of distilling the essence of things into a simple clarity.

  2. I would love a husband who would share equally in the housework, but then. . . I don't really want to share equally in the yardwork, home repair, car maintenance, and other tasks. He helps me some with the housework, and I help him some with the yardwork. I feel that I still do the most because housework is so relentless, whereas maintenance tasks are sporadic. Still, no relationship is perfect, and I'll try to be contented with what I have.