I believe there are some who may have formed an unrealistic picture of my wife and what she chooses to accomplish in the course of a day, based on my previous posts. However, lest any come to resent her for seeming to accomplish more than is possible to the everyday woman, she is the first to confess her own imperfections and shortcomings. I must, however, preface my following words by saying first that I discussed the possible content of this post with Claire, and she supported it entirely. That being said, let me make clear a point that may not have been explicit in the previous posts. The experiences and examples that I gave of Claire are what she chooses to spend the majority of her time doing. They were not the accidental outcome of a random intersection of a mother-daughter dyad. Those practices and characteristics are conscious choices. As with all choices, there are consequences; in economics, they call it opportunity cost. It is the value of your forgone next-best-choice. For us, this has meant that meals are sometimes later than intended, dishes often pile up, and our house looks happily lived in. I'll be quick to say that this is not a criticism, nor is it a suggestion. It is, first and foremost, an opportunity. Not for Claire to become a better multi-tasker. Not for her to improve her prowess and acclaim as a mother by doing more in less time. No, this opportunity belongs to me.
Reality is not what was portrayed in the 50's: there is no mother who cleans house in heels and pearls, laying out robe, pipe, paper, and slippers for her returning husband. (I wouldn't mind a pipe; I think they exude class and credibility. Mine would have to be custom, though. Maybe outfitted to blow bubbles...) Claire is no exception. She is an exceptional mother. In my opinion, the best I've ever seen. This does mean that there are some things which she does not have time to do in the course of her day. Enter me. I have my own apron. Not the flimsy, once-a-year "kiss the cook" variety for the annual outside barbecue where testosterone runs rampant. No, mine is sturdy, thick material, and is very familiar with much use. On days when Claire hasn't been able to fit in all that she wanted to, we dig in together to make things happen. It drives our little girl a bit crazy, to have us both working to clean up the house; she's very particular about her messes. I've seen her return an unused potty chair to the same spot on the floor repeatedly. However, I think it is good for her to see both of her parents working together to accomplish a goal they both find desirable. We both enjoy a clean house. And it takes both of us, oftentimes, to keep it so.
My point here is not to point out what a superb husband I am. Anyone who knows me knows the real truth to that, and those who don't, I assure you, I'm as flawed as they come. The point I wish to make is that setting and then achieving worthwhile goals for either or both parents is a joint venture. There is no way nor wisdom to go it alone in an institution initiated with the intent to have two become one. I wonder if this isn't why marriages today so often fail. Marriage isn't a strategic pooling of assets to gain financial or social advantage. It's an expression of commitment to a person and an ideal. It means that, as couples take the time to counsel together and come to a decision on what is important to both of them, it becomes a joint goal and responsibility to assist the other person in achieving their goal. It's been said that we come to love those we serve. What better way to increase in love for someone than by helping them achieve their greatest potential and dream?
It is ironic that, at this point, I must leave the telling of the other half of the story, the story of my better half's service to me, for tomorrow. Stay tuned; it makes my measly efforts look as significant as taking the lid off a pen.
End of part 1.