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What Absence Does

April 11, 2018 | 3 Comments

My husband is in India, riding rickshaws around the South of the country. Tonight he sent me a video of him and his mates at a rooftop bar overlooking a new city they were visiting, as the sun set and the cool music played. I, on the other hand, sent him pictures of how clean our carpets looked after we had them steam cleaned today.

This is how life is though, isn’t it, especially if you have young children – you can’t both always take the trip of a lifetime, so you have to tag team. Being the lone adult in the household is something many people do on a daily basis, but I am out of practise and it’s made me realise that I’ve got a bit lazy around doing certain things.

Examples include on the weekend when all the plugs stopped working, and I had to try locate the circuit boards in our new house and work out what the problem was. Then the alarm battery died (related!) so I had the security company calling me and asking me about the alarm set up, and there were many questions I did not know the answer to.

Then it was a bit warm on Sunday and we decided to have a swim, but I quickly realised that while Gareth had shown me how to do up the new ratchet system on our pool cover, he had not shown me how to let them out (and open the pool). Now if you know me, you will know that I am incredibly bad at figuring out how things work. I stared at those ratchets for a good 10 minutes with a quizzical expression on my face.

Then we remembered that we could Google “how to undo ratchets” (did not know they were called ratchets at first though!) and we then got a video showing us how. But that was also not the most helpful to my particular type of brain, although luckily Rachel took one look at the video and then proceeded to flip the ratchet up in a very clever fashion, and hey presto, the pool was open and we could swim.

My 7-year-old also then helped build Ben’s toy tool bench by following the instructions beautifully, because she could see I was hopeless (“what? You have to flip the thing over and insert the other thing like that?! Who would have thought that’s what that confusing diagram meant?”). The thing is that I don’t have a natural proclivity towards building things and figuring out how they work, so I normally leave it to my husband (and now my daughter).

It got me thinking about how we assign jobs in partnerships or families, and how we err to those things we are interested in or good at. For example I do most of the cooking because I find it relaxing and fun. I also decide what to do about the garden (as I find gardening calming), although the lawn is strictly my husband’s domain – as is the pool.

I am traditionally the one that gets rids of unwanted pests in the house like spiders or cockroaches, and I am tasked with shooing away bees or wasps. This is apparently because I am “a farm girl and not scared of insects” (I think someone else is though?!). I also pick up ALL the dog poo (farm girl reference again), although my husband does most of the dog walking.

Husband takes care of Internet and TV (when we have it), I do decor. I keep our social calendar, he books most of the family holidays. I could go on, but you get the picture. And the same applies to parenting. He’s mostly the silly and fun parent, and I get the routines followed and the tasks completed. But not having him here for 10 days has opened up space for me to be the silly one, and it’s been a wonderful opportunity for my kids to see that I can also make up fart jokes and tickle them and use funny voices.

I hardly ever watch movies with them, because my husband really does like watching kids movies more than me. But this weekend they really wanted a parent to watch a DVD with them, so we sat down and watched Little Prince together and ate popcorn and it was a beautiful. I learnt so many lessons, and realised that I’d been missing out on these special experiences.

I guess it’s a wake up call that as easy as it is to fall into our comfort zones, in any aspect of life (marriage, parenting or work), it’s very good for us to shake ourselves out of these comfy spaces now and then. We learn things and what absence does is show other people parts of ourselves too, that may be less noticeable during the ordinary running of our lives.

In this way I think spending time apart from each other is always very healthy and very productive. But right now, as I glance sideways at my very clean carpets, I do have a longing for a drink on a rooftop bar in a foreign country myself (my turn next!).

Have wonderful weeks all.

xxx

Belinda

3 Comments

  • Reply Nats April 11, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    Great thoughts Bee….but it also shows how we seem to marry people who are good at the things we aren’t. Imagine if Gareth & I were married?! We’d be a DIY dynamo couple

    • Reply Belinda Mountain April 12, 2018 at 7:33 am

      Yes, maybe we subconsciously pick people who can fill in the gaps in our expertise!

  • Reply caleyjaderosenberg April 17, 2018 at 11:14 am

    It is so amazing how we naturally allow ourselves to fall into these slots – and our worlds shake when the other is not there to pick up their tasks. With a traveling husband, I have learnt over the years to be a pretty good back up for his tasks… x

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