Sunday, January 23, 2005

Our return to traditional gender roles

As you can see, we're getting hit pretty hard with this here snow event... the one that someone on NPR called "one of the top ten storms of the last 100 years" this morning. And just in case you had any doubt, that's my husband, out shoveling the driveway, and me, in the warm house, shooting fotos from behind a snowed-in window.

We're pretty flexible around here when it comes to who does what. Darren's job tends to be a bit more predictable, time-wise, than mine, so he does the majority of the general neatening of the house, as well as most of the laundry. I like fixing stuff --- or at least drilling holes in things --- and so tend to take the lead on repair projects. But I also like to unwind by cooking.

Working out the division of duties was contentious early in our married life, mostly because I was deathly afraid that he assumed I would do everything domestic --- a ridiculous thought, because he'd never uttered anything to that effect, nor acted in any way as if that was his expectation. I spent several hours on a therapist's couch, realizing that *I* was the one who was putting those expectations on myself.

Over the years, I've lightened up considerably about how we divide the work around here. I'm still a little over-sensitive if I think I'm doing too many of the household duties, but on the whole things are much smoother: We each do what we like and/or are good at, then ignore the rest (ie, cleaning the bathroom and mopping the kitchen floor) until such time as it needs to be done.

All of which is a preamble to today's division of duties. The storm --- they're calling it a blizzard! --- is still rolling, with wind whipping the snow into several-foot-high drifts. We were prepared, grocery-wise, for this occasion, but the one thing that makes Sunday morning complete is the local paper and the New York Times --- the first read over breakfast, the second attacked more leisurely, in fits and starts throughout the day. And because we like walking a few blocks to our fabulous bakery/cheese & wine shop for the papers, we don't get them delivered.

Which meant one of us had to venture out in the storm to get them. I was willing to go, but Darren was already dressed after having taken the pooches out in the yard. So we made a deal: He'd walk for the papers and I'd make breakfast (a scrambled-egg-and-cheese bagel for him, two eggs over easy with a bagel and raspberry jam for me). After breakfast and a bit of relaxation, Darren started bundling up to go out and shovel. I was (and still am) in my flannel pjs, but said I'd be happy to get dressed and help shovel. ("Happy" was perhaps overstating it.)

My fabulous husband told me to stay inside and keep warm, and give Jelly her medicine for the morning. "Fine," I said. "Then I'm making dinner -- no help from you." And it was a deal.

Of course, I'm sorta getting the short end of the stick on this one, since the Best Neighbor Ever came over with his snowblower and cleared most of our driveway in five minutes flat. Darren shoveled the deck, the steps and a path through the yard for the pooches, and is already back inside showering. Later this afternoon, I'll sear some beef and make tamale pie. And perhaps tonight we'll actually eat the tangerines and dark chocolate --- we ate so much gnocchi last night that none of us could even contemplate dessert. A lovely Sunday, to be sure.