Friday, April 6, 2012

The Man He Could Have Been

"The way you're raising Jacob is going to make him unsuited to marriage." he said. 

As usual, when someone discusses my children or how I'm raising them, my ears (or eyes in this case) perked up right along with my level of irritation. "I'm not sure what you're talking about, but I can't wait to hear how you came up with that theory." I replied. 

"Men who are skilled at household chores are less likely to do well in marriage. They don't need a woman to do those things for them, so they appreciate it less. I realized that when I made myself breakfast again this morning. I don't need anyone to cook, clean, or do my laundry." he explained. 

I'll be honest, I saw the direction he was coming from. I could understand where he was finding his "logic". I just felt like he was missing the biggest piece of the puzzle. 

"There's not much I can't do for myself or pay someone to do for me. I don't need a man to clean the gutters or change the oil in my car. I am capable of mowing the lawn and painting and using tools. Does that mean that I'm not suitable for marriage?" I asked. 

"You're not a guy so you don't get it. Why would men put up with women when they can do all of those things that we are supposed to appreciate a woman doing?" he shot back. 

Listening to him ramble on transported me back to the years we were living together. While he had just put two and two together this morning while he slaved over a toaster and skillet, I'd known from week one that it didn't matter what I made for dinner, how nicely I folded his laundry, or how many extra hours I worked he would never be able to show appreciation. 

"Just because I know how to do something, even if I know how to do it well, doesn't mean that I don't appreciate it when someone can help me or does something for me. I teach my son to do things for himself because he will need to know how to take care of himself. He appreciates when someone goes out of their way to do those little things for him. It's supposed to be about appreciation." 

"Whatever. I am going to do my own laundry and then put gravel on the driveway." I could hear the condescension in his text as clearly as if he were speaking in my ear.  

"Need some help?" I asked, throwing in a big yellow smiley face for good measure. 

When he signed off I sat staring at the screen for a few minutes. A sharp pain tugged at my throat as I blinked back tears for what seemed like the millionth time since I'd first met him. But these tears were not for me; They were for the man he could have been if only someone had loved him sooner, and my heart broke a little more.

I've raised my kids to be fairly self-sufficient. They know the basics of keeping house, caring for themselves, and who to call when a job is too big for them (not me). Both of them know how to do laundry, cook a decent meal, do yard work, and minimal upkeep. More importantly, they know how to say thank you. They understand that it isn't just important to know how to do things, but that it's also important to know how to let others do things too. If that makes either of my kids unsuitable for marriage, then I would be thrilled for them to be single. 

I don't have any thought provoking question to ask today, well I suppose I do somewhere inside, but I'm so bogged down in the minutiae that I couldn't put it into words if I tried. 

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