(Before you read this post, stop remembering the Andy Kaufman version of the Mighty Mouse theme song. I mean it. Stop. It. Right. Now.)
My husband and I have always had a 50-50 arrangement, if you average it over time. Statistical nerd that I am, I know that the average can mask a labile distribution of responsibility for household and familial duties. Sometimes it’s 75-25, sometimes 25-75, and occasionally even 90-10 (as in the time when we were preparing to move and my husband managed to break his knee on a guys’ trip).
Every time someone says to me that I’m an angel for taking care of my Dad, I remember that the guy holding my halo in place is my husband.
When I stop to take inventory, I realize that it’s a whole bunch of little things he does that accumulate to make a difference. When he comes home from work every evening, he asks if my Dad has his glass of wine. While I scramble to do my “magic” in the kitchen (anyone who knows me knows this is not a joyful experience), he’s contributing the comfortable routine of my Dad’s life. Dad used to have a couple of scotch and waters before dinner that over the years morphed into a glass of red wine. Dad’s almost lost his taste for wine at all, but that pre-dinner libation is a nicety in the not-so-nice world of advanced age.
Sometimes my husband “covers” for me if I have a morning meeting or am entertaining a couple of girlfriends. I’ve never detected a moment of resentment if I ask him to fix Dad’s breakfast or put his dinner on the table.
Taking care of Dad severely limits our flexibility to accept invitations from friends or go out of town for the weekend, things my extrovert husband would enjoy. But he never complains. Ever. I’ve never detected resentment, though he would be well within his rights to feel some.
And he shares his space often, as family members come to visit my Dad.
Perhaps most significantly, he doesn’t try to fix my problems when I feel down or a little worn out. Earlier in our marriage, we learned that my sharing a problem led to him trying to solve it, when sometimes all I wanted was the opportunity to vent. He sits with me and empathizes. I feel held inside even if we are not touching outside.
Next time your mental jukebox plays, “Here I am to save the day!” remember the great men who are out there standing behind the “angels” like me.
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