Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Being Married to a Man

Shameful confession: I listen to Dr. Laura every day on my way from my school to the monkeys' school to pick them up. I don't know if that is the kind of thing one can go around admitting in public, even before she started all this recent nonsense. I mean, she has historically had some helpful things to say--there was a time when The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands did a little bit of help for my broken marriage... but then that was before we separated and realized that our problems were bigger than me needing to give E more compliments every day.  It took more than a book from a cranky Skeletor lady to fix what was wrong with us.

Anyway, I digress.  Dr. Laura ain't the most popular gal in town lately--and let's be clear that this post has nothing to do with aligning myself with her ideology.  Not that it matters much to me anyway as I choose my afternoon listening from parking lot to parking lot.  I listen to it because nothing else is on talk radio from 2:15-2:30 PM and I'm too lazy to change the station from the morning.  I listen to it because I have a junkie-like obsession with other people's lives (duh--blog fan) so it feeds my addiction in between sessions with my beloved Google Reader.

But Dr. Laura, she loves to tell people that they didn't marry a man. You know the type, the women who complain that their husband won't storm into the principal's office to deal with some issue their kid is having, or the wives of wimpy guys who won't step up and make a decision or be an active father.  Dr. Laura is happy to berate any ol' sad housewife who calls by telling her that her man is a Grade-A Wimptastic Metrosexual Namby-Pamby Momma's Boy.  She's so mean sometimes.

But it's pretty clear I married a man, for better or worse.  He might not have been one yet when he proposed that April evening in 1999 (we were 20 and 19), but I knew from about 1997, on, that he would be one eventually, and that I wanted to be there once he was.  (I think it's here!  Man time!) Sometimes the man-ness (man-ity? Ha!) frustrates me, as when he doesn't think the way I'd dream about him thinking.  This Sunday he asked me to go for a Harley ride with him to look at houses out in the country.  An outing!  Gasp!  Romance!  Sweep me off my feet, E, my heart shouted.  But as soon as he learned that I wasn't feeling up to taking the bike, he announced we might as well bring along the kids.  See, that's a man thing.  No need to "waste a babysitter if we are just taking the car."   Man thought.  He's thinking about practicality, I'm thinking about "alone time" with big puffy pink hearts and I'm drawing our initials together on my notebook.  HP + EP FOREVER.  Know what?  We had a lovely drive anyway and lots of good talking.  The kids were there; it was not bad at all.  Our kids are great.  Man thinking equals pragmatic thinking.

When it really comes down to it, I want him to think like a man.  So this is why I have girl friends who think like girls and want to do girl things.  My friend Cheryl once told me (and I'm paraphrasing) that her mom said don't expect any one person in this world to meet all your needs.  She was right.  And the circle is complete because Dr. Laura (in all her infinitely politically incorrect glory) was right about this one thing about being married to a man.  It's how I really want it to be.  Dr. Laura just might be a whackadoodle, but in this area I find her sentiments to be kind of apt.  It's easy to fall into a pattern of expecting people to think like you do--and for me that means I sometimes don't expect E to be in the man zone.

He's a pretty great man, you know.  I came home this afternoon and found that he and his father (also a real man, as is my own dad) had made a hole in my ceiling and installed a ceiling fan and overhead light fixture.  Then they put holes in the wall by the TV and installed wall sconces.  Amazing.  I like it when he builds stuff, plain and simple.

Heidi Klum marvels at all the man work in my house.

Can you feel the breeze?  It's positively arctic.

The gleam in E's eye this afternoon as he navigated the attic ladder and snaked wires through walls was worth a hundred hours of "alone time."  Seeing him happy--happy with work, and now happy with being handy, adding to our home--makes me happy.  In the long run it's probably better for how we get along anyway.  (Plus I know now that he knows I'm thinking some of that QT is on my mind and maybe it might be a good thing if we had some soon.)  It "fills his bucket" as Henry would say, to build things and to work with his hands.  His job is allowing him to make friends and use his amazing brain and do all manner of mental man things.

So even though I didn't grade one paper in the four-packet stack of essays on the table, even though I didn't get to go to the grocery store tonight because payday comes one day later than I planned, even though the dog is laying at the end of my couch and stinking up the room to high heaven, the night has come to a satisfying close.  E has finally settled in next to me and he's managing the remote like it's his job.  The fruits of his labor are cooling the air and lighting the room with a gentle yellow glow.  I definitely married a man, and I lurrrrrve him.

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