Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Jennifer Housewife

Yesterday Eric stood in the kitchen with tears in his eyes, saying, "I'll be eighty-three before these kids are learning what they ought to be learning." We'd been talking about the curriculum he's been handed for a new class he's teaching, and how he regards it as grossly human-centered and inappropriate for a beginner's class. He has a book, Benchmarks, that he would love to have implemented, but right now, where he is, there's nothing he can do, and he hates it. And I saw, again, how impassioned he can be about the things he cares about, and how much he cares about teaching.

He is now working full-time, including teaching a class he's never taught before, and which he learned yesterday is full of brighter students than he thought he was getting. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; it just means he has to redo a bunch of work he's done on his lesson plans. He's also taking four graduate-level classes in the evenings. He is going to have a very busy semester.

I am now going to be solely responsible for dinner on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and primarily responsible on Mondays. (Tuesdays he has pizza with his gaming friends, and Fridays he has no classes.) I'm a little nervous about this. I've never been responsible for someone else's meals; up until now we've shared in the planning and cooking, not least because Eric is a picky eater and won't eat something if he's not in the mood for it. But if he's to get any decent nutrition this semester, I'm going to have to have food ready and he's going to have to eat it.

I have also--without mentioning it to him, because he balked enough at the dinner thing--decided that this semester, I will attempt to become his housewife. I will cook, and clean, and do the dishes, and pay the bills, and do the laundry, and buy the groceries, and try not to complain that he's not helping. I'm also nervous about this. For one thing, I'm terrible at not complaining. This is actually nontrivial; I don't like not talking about things, and it's liable to make me even more irritable than usual. But I think it has to be done. My schedule is much freer than his, so I can take on the additional work without trouble; and if I draw attention to it he's going to feel bad about putting it all on me, and his stress level is high enough without making it worse.

And yes, if I don't say anything, he probably won't notice. This is the guy who leaves empty boxes all over our pantry because it simply doesn't occur to him that taking the last can/bar/bottle/package means that the box no longer has a purpose.

So we'll see how this goes. In a way I'm kind of looking forward to it. There are lots of projects around the house that aren't getting done because they're our projects and we often find better things to do than put up shelves or organize old files; but if it's just me who's responsible, these things are more likely to be done because I'm less tolerant of clutter than he is and the sense of ownership isn't diffused. So maybe by Christmas we'll have a cleaner, more functional house. Or maybe we'll have the same house and two more frazzled people in it.

No comments: