I’m standing in M&S, searching for the right size and type of men’s pants when I realise, with an horrific clarity, that I have become one of those women who buys my husband’s underwear for him.
And it’s not just that. As I stand there contemplating putting the pants back in defiance, I think about the fact that if I don’t buy them, I will continue to feel irritated every time I hang out his old holey ones. Then it hits me; I have become one of those women who does all the washing – mine, the kids’ and Stanchion’s. Some mornings, rather than look in his drawer, he simply asks ‘do I have any clean socks?’ and I, I now rather depressingly recall, can usually give him an accurate answer.
It isn’t really his fault, I suppose. After a year of not being at work, I have found it easier than him to find time to put washing in the machine and hang it out later the same day. Just as I’ve found it easier to put Squeak down for her naps myself, rather than have to stop what I’m doing several times to give him advice on how to get her to sleep. It’s easier to finish tidying the kitchen before I go to bed, so I know everything will be the way I want it in the morning. It’s easier to sort out the kids’ meals than it is to give a step-by-step instructions on how to prepare it according to their highly specific requirements.
And suddenly, it hits me: I’m dangerously close to being one of those women who thinks, ‘it’s just easier if I do it myself’, simultaneously running herself ragged and downgrading her life partner to inept sidekick.
I want to cry (except I’m still standing looking at men’s underwear and I’m worried about what people might think). I was not going to be any of these sorts of women and I don’t know quite how I got here.
Later, after I’ve got back home and handed Stanchion the aforementioned pants, I make another realisation: if I’m not happy, I have to change. And as I watch him cook dinner, I try to relax about the fact that he’s asked me what I was planning to cook and which recipe to follow and which pan I would use and if the dishwasher is clean or dirty and how long the pasta will take and a dozen other annoying questions. The point is he’s trying and I have to stand back and give him the freedom to do it.
These things take practise, but I’m hoping eventually I’ll learn.