In my last blog post, I told a story of doing the dishes and getting so caught up in the act that I spaced time and place and my daughter missed her dance class. It appears that in the same post, I inadvertently gave my boyfriend Chris a bad rap. I did not mean to make it sound like he does nothing but sit around being adorable all day while I walk around with myself nailed up on the Cross. Although quite frankly, he *could* sit around all day doing nothing but being adorable because he really is. And he is a delightful human in many ways, not just that he is a Domestic God. I wrote this about him yesterday in response to an inquiry regarding if he helps with chores and children and whatnot:
“Of course he does. He does them all (chores), actually. Cooks, cleans, does the laundry, runs errands, does the shopping, takes care of Eva like she is his own. The fact that I was doing dishes was really a freak accident. Somehow, on my watch, we managed to dirty 100000 dishes in a matter of a couple of hours.”
Before Chris moved earth and sky in his life to come live with us, Eva and I had been independent women for a long time. We were unruly, messy and lawless. We were having a blast and while we weren’t living in squalor per se…let’s just say organization and neatness were not top on my priority list as a single mom working outside of the house who was on total damage control from a life that had been turned upside down, twirled, shaken, rolled around and dropped mercilessly at my feet.
So when Chris moved in he had expectations that we conduct ourselves with some sort of decorum. Do things like pick up after ourselves, flush the toilet on a regular basis and eat meals at a table and the like. There was shock. There was awe. There was backlash on multiple levels.
On one occasion early in the transition period, after being told to put whatever she had gotten out to play with away Eva said to me, under her breath and on the down low something like “I don’t get it. I mean, I’m just gonna have to get this out again anyway. Why can’t I just leave it here where it’s an eyesore and where people would step on it and slide to their broken hips? What’s with the rules?” I recall responding with a shrug of my shoulders and something like “Yeah I dunno.”
Eva was not used to having to systematically clean up after herself. She was used to “cleaning up” meaning Mama running around cleaning (and by cleaning I mean shoving things in closets and drawers, sometimes under beds) like a cat that got it’s tail stuck in a socket because someone was coming over for a holiday or something. Full scale cleaning was an emergency, not a regular occurrence.
I remember one other time I did the dishes. She was in Kindergarten and I was driving her to school and from the back seat I hear her sweet, angelic voice singing “Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy. Grab my glasses I’m out the door I’m gonna hit this city. Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack….” I remember thinking “Oh fantastic. My five year old kid is going to skip into school singing Ke$ha and the teacher is going to wonder what the hell is going on and hotline me, and Child Protective is going to come to the house and I better do the dishes!!!!” That is how we rolled then.
We live a more civilized existence now. I suspect we are still far and away from fulfilling Chris’s neat and tidy expectations, and we are as perfect as any other family out there, but we have all learned to meet each other in the middle. Eva has learned very useful life lessons and skills and rarely has to be reminded to pick up after herself – no more or less than any other kid. I have managed to train her in The Things You’re Allowed To Say At School and The Things You Can Only Say At Home. Chris has come to laugh at us, mostly. I’m still a work in progress. Most importantly, since he has come to live with us, our walls that seemed so sad and empty have become a home again, filled with laughter instead of tears. And that is worth doing all of the dirty dishes in the world to me.