When my household went from two parents to one in 2011 – I had to take on responsibility for, well, everything.
Some of my new roles I've embraced enthusiastically.
- Becoming a more engaged sports fan to bond with my son. This wasn't a conscious choice – it just kind of evolved. I was already a huge Ducks fan – and I followed the St. Louis Cardinals and the Denver Broncos. I grew up watching sports with my dad – going to see Colorado Buffaloes football (although at the time, I was more excited to see Ralphie the buffalo at halftime). But I'm surprised how much I have grown to enjoy watching SportsCenter on ESPN, College GameDay (ok, that's not new – used to get crap from Mundorff for thinking Herbstreit was a hottie – and I love to watch Lee put the head on), listening to Colin Coherd in the morning and the talking to Charlie later about the material. The summer Chuck died – the three of us watched the ESPN Top 10 plays every night… it was a frankly soothing ritual – during a very dark summer. The following October – we didn't miss an inning of Cardinal baseball. Chuck wasn't a religious man… but I remember talking to him once about heaven and he said it would for sure involve the Cards winning Game 7 of the Series. Four months after he died – they did just that. It was riveting and somehow I knew it was coming the minute the Cards cinched a playoff spot by winning the National League Wild Card on the last day of the regular season. (Didn't make Freese's walk off home run in game six any less exciting, though). The whole thing literally gave me goose bumps. Didn't know really whether to be sad that he missed it, or feel like he somehow was enjoying it with us. Chose the latter.
- Learning to Barbecue. Whereas before I would prepare something to grill (marinated chicken, seasoned rib eyes, etc.), and hand it to the man in the yard – I have had to get more comfortable with grilling. My education started last summer. It was the day after our big July 4th party at the farm – one of my favorite days – since the hard work of getting ready for the event is over, the stress over combining illegal fireworks, toddlers and beer drinking adults is over and there is still leftover burgers and homemade ice-cream. July 5th may actually be my favorite holiday, now that I think about it. Anyways – it was time to make lunch – and we wanted to grill the leftover patties. My role at farm barbecues has always been to resist while being nagged by my mom until I acquiesce and get hauled into the hot kitchen to season and help her make hamburger patties, gather serving dishes, set the table, chop tomatoes and onions, make salads, make dips etc. But that day, we needed a grill team and her very competent nephew Jesse offered to show me the ropes. Ladies, we've been had. While we are working our butts off in the kitchen – here's what is going on at the grill: First they take a plate of prepared patties (someone else prepared, obviously) and sliced Tillamook cheddar and go onto the side porch – out of site of the women (grandma mostly) so that they can't be called upon to fill the coolers with ice etc. Then they open the beer cooler and grab a cold beer (a separate cooler specifically set for convenient access for the barbecuers). Put the patties on the grill – drink beer. Eventually you have to flip the burgers… but lots of time to stand around and drink beer while you are waiting (and women will have extra time here with less to scratch). The one task is flipping the meat at the right time. Throw some cheese on a few of them after you flip them – but just do this to however many you feel like. Don't bother asking who wants cheeseburgers – too much effort and the interaction will risk additional assignments. You get some kid to run the dirty platter back into the kitchen so one of the women can wash it and bring it back to you to put the cooked burgers on when you are done. Umm sign me up. Every year. Someone else can help Grandma.
Some roles I have accepted, but with slightly less enthusiasm.
- Week night cooking. I really enjoy cooking for people I care about, and have been accused before of 'showing love through food,' so this is a natural fit for me. I also like to be able to control the menu – steering us towards healthier eating and frequently having the kid's friends over to enjoy meals with us. Just find it a bit challenging to get dinner on the table some nights when I'm still driving kids back and forth to practice after work – and on the road until 8pm. And if I don't have a plan going into it, I'm likely to panic.
- Teaching teenagers to drive. This was not supposed to be my job. I am wound way to tight for this. Charlie and I REALLY STRUGGLED through his permit year. But we survived and so far, he's proven to be a fairly competent driver. Wish me luck in two years when I have to repeat it with the higher drama red head.
- Watering the plants. This didn't even occur to me until I noticed late that summer that the two house plants we had – a rubber tree and a ficus that had literally been thriving for 19 years - were dying. I remember thinking, oh! I guess Chuck watered the plants. Somehow escaped my attention that needed doing.
Some chores were always mine… those still are. Laundry, kids calendars, plumbing this list goes on and on.
There's a handful for which I'm in trouble on once the kids move out.
- Cleaning up after the dog.
- Taking out the trash.
- Cutting the Christmas tree – putting it in the stand. Actually there is a slew of Christmas chores that are overwhelming which is why the kids and I keep fleeing to Mexico at Christmastime. But they like the trappings – so we end up doing both anyway.
But one of the worst for me is yard work. That was the point of this whole post… I got sidetracked. I don't want to do yard work. There are SO MANY other things I'd rather do with my very small amount of free time (barbecuing comes to mind). The lawn looks absurd when I mow it – too long, too short, crazy rows. I also have a gift for choosing a 'pattern' that makes it harder than it is (trying to crawl under bushes while mowing the edges, etc). I don't know when or why to trim what. Weeding sucks. We let a tree full of Asian Pears just fall off to the ground this past summer. I think they are still rotting in the lawn. Well, we have now, what appear to be, two dead hydrangeas in the front beds. I think I need to pull them – or make my strong teenagers do it. But that will leave a big hole, and why are they dead? They've been there for 8 years, I assume – what happened? And what if they aren't dead – and I go all Kevorkian on them? It's just not good. Inaction so far seems to be the best strategy. Might have to stick with it. Or maybe I could throw them on the grill.