My dear husband Doug tore a tendon in his ankle this past winter while snowboarding. Finally, last week he had an ankle surgery. As a result, he will be crutching around for the next couple months. But the fun news is he surprised the family by picking a beautiful bright pink cast — it stretches from his foot all the way up to below his knee. Our 7-year-old daughter, Ani, saw the pink cast and seemed very impressed with her papa’s color selection. She was immediately inspired to sign it. When she proudly looked up from the signing, we saw she had written “Handsome in Pink. Love, Ani.” Currently, that’s his best and only signature. But tomorrow, Doug returns to work as a physician, perhaps he’ll receive some more autographs. But one thing is certain, he will be receiving lots of feedback and questioning about his cast color choice from co-workers and patients. We will stay tuned on that topic.
While the color of my husband’s cast hasn’t personally affected me (that’s a lie; men in pink are very sexy), his inability to be mobile has been huge. I’ve inherited many of his “manly” chores at home and in the process, have acquired some new skills. The winning job contenders I’ve inherited are: firing up the BBQ for a good grilling, and mowing the backyard.
My least favorite jobs thus far? It’s a toss up. There was the 3am investigation of the faulty smoke alarm that needed new batteries and was obnoxiously beeping every fourth minute — just long enough to drift back asleep and then be rudely awakened again and again and again. When I finally dragged my fanny out of bed, I actually couldn’t figure out which smoke alarm was beeping so I had to take them ALL down. This involved a long flight of stairs and a heavy ladder. Of course this would only happen when Doug was out of commission. I swear I saw him smile in his sleep when I finally got back to bed.
Other inherited jobs I haven’t enjoyed so much have involved being the heavy lifter for the family. I’ve had the opportunity to carry 6 large bags of soil, a 50-pound potted plant, a lawnmower, and our sleeping children back up into their high bunk beds. So Doug and I are both getting buff in these next couple months while he recovers; him from crutching around and me from all the heavy lifting he usually does.
But certainly there is another issue at hand: we are all victims of gender stereotyping in our culture. I can’t believe I had never mowed the lawn! And grilling burgers is a great experience! I’ve been speaking to my friends about my recent experience and it seems that I’m not the exception to the rule; there is a lot of gender division of labor. Usually there are a few surprises, like for example, I take out the garbage and Doug does the laundry. But chores do seem to divide down the gender line. I just need to stop calling chores “manly” because truly I have never felt like such a woman as I did when I was mowing the lawn last week!