The Business of Being Boss
*I use the term "debate" loosely because we both totally knew it was me.
He called from his office on speaker phone with one of his colleagues listening in, and said, "Hey, Todd wants to know who's the boss in our house?"
I didn't want to crush his manly visions of king-of-the-castle-ness, especially not in front of his friend. So in my sweetest voice, I just said, "Who do you think is the boss, Honey?" Which made him laugh. And everybody knew without it being said.
I'm no raging feminist. When we had Career Day in my Kindergarten class, I wore my Mary Lou Retton leotard and legwarmers (it was 1985, people) and carried my Cabbage Patch Kid: my career of choice was "aerobics instructor and mom." When I was in high school, I was smart, and my teachers encouraged me to do big things, apply for scholarships, accept internships ... but I met Curtis during my senior year, and only managed to hobble through two years of college before doing what I'd wanted to do in the first place: becoming his wife and making a home for our family. And during our relationship - even though I have shaped a freelance writing career and am actually the "aerobics instructor" I once dreamed of being (minus the leotard and legwarmers) - my primary role, at least in my own mind, has always been keeping this house in order, and everyone in it clean, healthy, and happy. (In fact, I wrote about it a couple of years ago in this post.)
Despite what some might see as a rather archaic outlook on my domestic role, I do not - nor have I ever (not even for one tiny iota of a millisecond) - perceived my husband to be my "boss." I mean, I like to provide him with a nice clean home and a good relationship and a comfortable life - because I love him and I want him to be happy - but not because he expects it, or because it's something I "have" to do. If I'm exhausted (which happens a lot lately), you'd better damn well believe I'm going to sit on my arse and let the laundry and dishes pile up around me, and if I don't feel like cooking, well, he knows where we keep the ramen noodles.
I don't mind calling him the "head of our household." He deserves that title. He works very hard, is the primary breadwinner, and certainly plays a part in making major decisions for the family. But I've never heard my philosophy explained better than by a line in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the mother says, "The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. She can turn the head any way she wants."
So true, y'all. So true.
Last night, though, while thinking about it further, I realized something: we can debate it until the cows come home, but I'm not really the boss. And neither is Curtis. We may make the financial decisions and keep this joint running smoothly, but there's no doubt who truly runs the place.
Sure, we set the ground rules: no snacking before dinner. Bedtime at eight. Use an "inside voice." Don't forget to put the toilet seat down. And speaking of toilets, only certain things go in there. But it's borderline amazing when you think about the vast amount of restructuring and accommodating we, and every other parent, do for our rug-rats.
We have to wake up when they wake up, and can't go to bed until they're asleep. We cook with what they'll eat in mind, and we eat when they're hungry. We have to provide them with clean laundry and a decent meal, no matter how tired we are. Our hobbies and entertainment have to wait until they don't need anything. Every aspect of our lives is structured around their naptimes, their appointments, their preferences, their schedules, their extracurricular activities. They often dictate down to the smallest detail, like when we go to the bathroom - because if you've ever left a small child unoccupied for a few minutes while you take care of bidness, you know that bad things can happen.
So the debate can rage on. You can argue with your significant other all you want about who wears the pants in the family. But when it comes right down to it, the one who wears the pants is the one who wears the diapers.
... Or, you know, the little printed undies.
PS - I'm getting ready to have a GIVEAWAY, y'all! Anybody who likes scrapbooking is gonna love this: a MyMemories Digital Scrapbooking Suite! Just in time to get all those embarrassing holiday photos together.