Who had more fun, Betty Crocker or Orville Redenbacher?

July 21, 2009 at 12:13 am 6 comments

tuesdayorvilleIs it a gender difference, or is just me? Are all men able to make leisure a higher priority than women when it comes to our free time?

When Danny became Reagan’s primary caregiver, truthfully, it was at first with some jealousy that eventually grew into appreciation that I noticed he was able to carve out some “me time” from his “free time.” As any parent of a toddler knows, “free time” means any time every ounce of your energy isn’t directed at pacifying, entertaining, feeding, scrubbing down or chasing down that unpredictable little firecracker also known as your offspring. This free time primarily consists of just 1-2 hours each afternoon at naptime and 2-3 hours at night. If you’re lucky. Am I right?

Whilst the primary caregiver, the entirety of my free time consisted of:

1. Picking up. Clothes pulled from drawers. Coinage, credit cards and half-chewed gum (still in the wrapper) from my purse. Books, toys and bits of dried Playdoh in the carpet. Various kitchen items strewn throughout the living room. Twice a day, at nap and bedtime. Twice… sometimes more. A pointless exercise, I know. But, I did it so I could at least savor the order of my home for a short while before my little performance artist took stage again to perform Clutter and Chaos for her admiring audience of one.

2. Cleaning. Not just the usual kitchen, bathrooms, floors, etc. but, wiping the daily handprints, food and spilled drinks from the dining room table, floors, carpets, mirrors, windows and every surface/orifice of our living room furniture multiple times a day.

3. Laundry. ‘Nuff said.

4. Stain removal. Deserves it’s own category.

5. Cooking. Reagan still does not eat meals with us because she is the pickiest daintiest eater ever deserving the last name of Bird. Just getting her to eat something, ANYTHING, requires your full concentration and effort for a full hour at every meal. Therefore, having our dinner ready before 10pm each night, after Lady Bird is fed, bathed, read and put to bed, means preparing it at naptime. (The inventor of the crockpot is my hero!)

With so much to do, I was never really able to figure out how to convert any part of my free time into me time, unless it meant forfeiting precious sleeping hours necessary to start the whole process over again the next day. So, how is it that my husband, now in charge of the nest, is able to enjoy much more of his free time as me time than I was?

Answer: It’s his priority. This means that whether it’s going to the gym, TV, reading, surfing the internet or just relaxing on the deck watching the sunset, it all comes first. Seems so simple, yet, impossible. Granted, the house isn’t as clean and orderly as it once was. And, cooking? Well, if it can be grilled or nuked, then it’s dinner. Otherwise, you’re on your own. There’s the can opener. But, for a man with scarce domestic skills to begin with, he has made tremendous strides. And, for a man who just beat cancer, he has his priorities straight.

Watching my husband not only regain his strength, but gain more energy and balance in his life than I’ve been able to muster these past few years has been a growth process for me as much as him. So much so, that I am now following course. Yesterday, instead of starting my day at my computer, I attended the first fitness class I’ve been to since before Reagan was born.

Whether it be because of gender, or a new appreciation of life, Danny’s order of priorities, while different from my own, are proving to pay off for him. I look at the price I paid for a clean house and dinner on the table every night and wonder, was it worth it? Am I happier or healthier for having sparkling floors and Betty Crocker-approved meals on the table? I don’t think I need to be a man or get cancer to know the answer to that. Do you?

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alisa  |  July 28, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Yet another deeply profound point made laced with such wildly funny humor!

    I can SO relate to this statement:

    “With so much to do, I was never really able to figure out how to convert any part of my free time into me time, unless it meant forfeiting precious sleeping hours necessary to start the whole process over again the next day.”

    Keep doing life, Chris! I, for one, enjoy sharing it with you.

    • 2. Mama Bird  |  August 3, 2009 at 6:39 pm

      It’s still hard to do! I’m learning, though!

  • 3. Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck  |  July 31, 2009 at 8:04 am

    You are such a ray of sunshine. I’ve loved seeing both of your evolutions through this process. As for my husband, he generally rises to the challenge of clean-up but I don’t think he’s ever wiped down a counter in his life. 🙂

    • 4. Mama Bird  |  August 3, 2009 at 6:37 pm

      Funny the little things they won’t tackle when their real-life jobs require so much more of them!

  • 5. The Mommy Chef  |  August 2, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    AWESOME post! You really hit the nail on the head. I do the same thing and then silently grumble about it instead of making myself a priority. I appreciate the reminder!

    • 6. Mama Bird  |  August 3, 2009 at 6:38 pm

      Ha! As do I! This has been a true learning experience for me and I hope an everlasting change!


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A half-hatched role-reversal takes flight on a wing and a prayer.

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