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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

I was cyber-harassing advertising execs from the comfort of my own room the other day when my husband came in, holding one of my jackets.

“Someone must have broken in, taken one of your jackets out of your wardrobe and left it one the back of one of the kitchen chairs,” he said.

“Oh, those people!” I sighed and kept on typing.

Five minutes later, he came in with another jacket.

“I really should change the locks on the back door,” he remarked, as he hung it up in the wardrobe. “Those people are out of control.”

A few minutes after that, he came in holding a grand total of four paper mushroom bags of varying ages and fullness.

“They’ve played that mushroom bag trick again!” he said, waggling the bags at me.

I shook my head and tutted. These were obviously the same people who, according to my husband, poured bucketfuls of water on the bathroom mat and then left it sopping wet on the floor and who left things soaking in a bucket in the laundry long enough to make their own killer swamp water and who always turned the heat up too high when cooking onions.

They were also the same people I suspected of switching the meat at the supermarket when my husband was shopping so that he ended up paying full price for sausages that were due to expire the very next day. And the same ones who never ever put the rice canister or the rice cooker away after using them. And who managed to lose one of Mr Justice’s school shoes somewhere between home and my mother’s house, by letting it roll unnoticed out of the car door at the petrol station.

And when I went on strike and refused to put the used toilet rolls in the recycling, the subsequent mass accumulation of used toilet roll wealth (pictured above) was entirely the fault of The Others because they suggested to my husband that I was collecting them for ‘crafting’.

Honestly! Why don’t these people just leave us alone?

I was thinking about all this when I heard my husband calling me, saying breakfast was ready. But strangely, when I got to the table, no food had been served and, in fact, most of it was still cooking on the stove.

“Sorry, I thought it must have been you calling me to breakfast but it must have been The Others playing tricks again because breakfast is clearly nowhere near ready,” I remarked.

“Actually, it was me who called you early because you always come late,” my husband replied.

“And I always come late because the food is never ready when you call me,” I was quick to retort.

We glared at each other for the briefest of moments before relaxing back into a smile. We knew this was The Others wanted us to do: they wanted us to fight. We weren’t going to fall for another of their tricks. Oh, no. Not us!

Honestly, marriage is much easier when there are other people involved.

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There’s not much to be recommended about starting work at 6am, except, perhaps, the possibility of knocking off early.

“Why, I can be home by 2:30!” my husband recently said, trying to look at the upside of his working hours.

“You can but you rarely are,” I corrected him. More often than not he’s not home until 4pm, conveniently after the school run. Funny, that.

“Okay, okay,” my husband said. “So I can be home by 2:30 if I have to.”

“If you have to? Is that what you think of your life here at home – as something you only do if you have to??” I was quick to accuse. My poor husband. Conversations with me must be like running blindfolded through a minefield while being chased by rabid she-dogs with PMT.

Still, it must be said that my husband and I have completely different concepts of time. I don’t feel like any of the time I take away from my family duties ever really feels like my own – it’s simply feels borrowed. And my husband? Well, let’s just say he has a greater sense of ownership over ‘his’ time.

Here’s an example: the other day he was supposed to be working a half-day – finishing at 10:30. He’d arranged to have ‘an early lunch’ with a colleague who leaving work forever that day. At 3:15pm, I rang him, asking if he was almost home. 

“Um, almost…” he replied. There was a lot of noise in the background. 

“Are you still at lunch?” I asked.

“Oh, no. Of course not!” was his quick response. “That finished ages ago. But here’s the thing, see… I was at the bus stop waiting to go home when [another friend] rang and asked me out for a beer.”

“So you’re at the pub,” I said.

“Yes. Yes, I am.”

“And not, for example, about to meet me at the school so that we can attend the meeting with Pixie’s teacher that you, yourself, arranged?” 

“Ah, no. No, I’m not,” he admitted, before adding cheerfully: “But you can go and show that at least one of us is a responsible parent!”

As you can imagine, when he got home over an hour later, I had a few words to say on the subject.

“All it takes is a phone call,” I said, sulkily. “I think you take it for granted that I’ll just look after the kids and do all the responsible things while you go do whatever the hell you want.”

“You know I’m always happy to do the same for you!” he replied with the air of somebody who’d just spent the afternoon at the pub.  

Now it’s here that I should give my husband some credit: he applies the same standards to my time management as he does to his own. He’s always saying “Go out and have fun! Don’t come home unless you’re completely shit-faced or in the back of a paddy wagon!” – partly because he knows the chances of me doing it are negligible. 

He decided to reiterate that point: “You know what’d I’d say if you rang me, saying you’d just taken a bad acid trip and were stuck at a rock festival for a week with Mzzz E?”.

“I don’t know. What would you say?” I asked. 

“Um, I’d say something. I just have to think what…” he mumbled. “Anyway, you’re off duty now for the rest of the evening. I’m here! I’m in charge! You can blog, sleep, read, whatever you like!”

Which is exactly what I did until one hour later, when I heard a little tap at the door.

“Um, have you finished blogging yet?” he asked in a small voice. “I was kind of hoping I could have a little lie down…”

In his defence, it was the 4am start and the 10km power-walk to work that was catching up with him. Not the four glasses of wine he’d had in the middle of the afternoon, of course. Not that. Never that.

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Just last night I was making dinner when my husband said to me “Do you think those things on the back line are dry yet?”

“You mean those towels that have been up for three days? Uh, I’d say so,” I said.  

“Should I bring them in?” he asked. 

“Yes, please. I’ve been trying to bring them for two days now but, you know, things keep happening…” I said. 

“Sure, they do. I understand,” my husband replied in a way that told me he didn’t really understand at all. Or that he thought the things that “kept happening” included “blog posts to write”, “chocolates to be eaten in front of Oprah” and “champagne to be quaffed with KT”. 

On his way out to the line, the cat pounced out of nowhere and attacked his legs.

“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuudddd!” he exclaimed. 

“The cat needs feeding,” I called out, adding helpfully: “You can either feed him now or just have him attack you the entire time you’re bringing in that washing. It’s your choice.”

“Okay, okay, I’ll feed him now,” he replied.

A few minutes later, he was about to open the back door when Tiddles McGee came rushing up to him with a distinct brown cloud in his wake.

“Looks like McGee knows who’s going to change his nappy,” I remarked, oh-so-casually. 

“Okay, okay, I’ll change him,” my husband said. 

When he emerged from the back room with a freshly-powdered McGee a few minutes later, I was (conveniently) chopping chili. 

“Could you please put the DVD on for the kids? I’d do it but I have chili hands,” I said, with a little shrug to show how much I’d like to help but really just couldn’t right at that moment. 

“Okay, okay, I’ll do it,” my husband said, between gritted teeth. 

Of course, I had cleverly referred to “the” DVD and not “a” DVD to give the impression that the DVD had already been chosen. Because I knew if he thought for a moment that the committee hadn’t reached its decision yet, that it would be an absolute and utter deal-breaker.

For one thing, the parent overseeing the decision-making process is required to read out all the DVD titles at least three times. You see, we’ve had to store the DVDs in various high places around the loungeroom because otherwise the kids like to strap the disks to their feet and go cross-country skiing in the backyard. At least that’s what I think they do with the disks. It’s the only way I can explain how scratched those stupid things get.  

For another thing, a typical decision-making process might go a little like this:

PARENT: Okay, so which one do you want to watch?

TIDDLES: I want King Lion!

MR JUSTICE: I think he means “The Lion King”.

TIDDLES: (shouting very loudly) NO! KING LION!!

THE PIXIE: “The Lion King” is boring. I want something for girls. Like “Barbie-as-Rapunzel”. 

MR JUSTICE: No way! That movie makes me sick. Let’s watch Ben 10. 

TIDDLES & THE PIXIE: Yaaaayyyyy!

PARENT: Series One or Alien Force?

THE PIXIE: Series One!
MR JUSTICE: Alien Force!
TIDDLES: King Lion! 

PARENT: Okay, if you can’t decide, we’ll just watch ABC Kids instead.

PIXIE & JUSTICE: Yaayyy!

TIDDLES MCGEE: Nooooooooooo! (starts wailing loudly). DON’T! WANT! ABC KIDS!

PARENT: Okay, okay, okay. If you can’t choose a DVD by the time I count to 10, you’ll all get nothing at all. One… two…

PIXIE: Um… I think…  (brightening considerably) I think “The Lion King”!

MR JUSTICE: Great choice! After all, we haven’t seen it for, like, five years. 

McGEE: (smiling through his tears) King Lion! King Lion!! 

PARENT: Great. “The Lion King” it is.

(PARENT then spends 10 minutes looking for DVD while children run around screaming and hitting each other with heavy blunt objects. Eventually Parent finds case down the side of the couch but with no DVD inside it and is forced to start the choosing process again).

Needless to say, as I’m writing this post some 12 hours later, I can see outside that it’s started raining and those towels are getting lovely and wet. With a bit of luck, they will take another three days to dry and will end up resembling sandpaper in both texture and foldability. And the next time my husband emerges wet and towel-less from the shower, I shall be very pleased to hand him one. Very pleased indeed.

Of course, I could go and bring them in myself right now, but I think I have a point to prove here. Don’t you?

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We all know that the term “Slumber Party” is a complete misnomer because it involves precious little slumber at all. Still, it’s fair to say that nobody would ever dare to host one if they were called “Wide Awake And High On Sugar Endurance Parties”. Somehow, retaining the word “slumber” in the title is vaguely reassuring to parents. Aspirational, even. 

It was therefore an unsurprisingly exhausted Mr Justice that my husband picked up from his first ever slumber party the other weekend. And somewhere between the party and home something happened in the car between Mr Justice and his two siblings, the details of which noone would speak: what happens in the Love Bus apparently stays in the Love Bus. Even my husband wasn’t forthcoming, except to tell me he had subsequently banned all television for that day. 

And having made such a grand pronouncement, he then made a swift getaway outside to work on the new carport for the rest of the day, leaving me inside with three bickering children and no hope of any respite.

Of course, I contemplated overturning my husband’s ruling, by finding a loophole such as “Oh, but Daddy meant no TV for anyone in the car…”, or “This? Oh, this isn’t a television. It’s a total home entertainment system…“, or even “Daddy who??”. But I didn’t. Because some small part of me wanted to play the martyr. Okay, okay so all of me wanted to play the martyr. That’s how I roll. 

“Oooh, look at me! I’m Daddy! I like to play Bob The Fucking Builder with my powertool friends all the live-long day while Mummy’s inside developing a severe baking-stress disorder from watching the kids mutilate gingerbread dough… Can we avoid all childcare duties ever? Yes we can… ” was just a small example of the kind of things I muttered under my breath that long, long day. 

But at one point, while I sat around the kitchen table with the kids eating warm gingerbread mutants, I saw him balanced perilously on a ladder outside in the howling wind, holding a drill in one hand and a hammer in the other and I thought, “Actually, that doesn’t look like that much fun.” 

And then the same thought occurred to me later when I found him crawling around on all fours in the semi-darkness of the shed, trying to find an essential screw he’d dropped in his hurry to finish the job, no doubt largely aided by me looming at the door and saying “Are you planning on finishing any decade soon?” while the kids screamed and hit each other with blunt objects behind me. 

My poor husband. He gets up every morning at 4:30am so he can start work at 6am in the city. He arrives home just in time to share “shit o’clock” with his family in a house that, quite frankly, would look tidier if it had been firebombed. Every now and again I just need to stop and think how it must be for him to rush home from a full day’s grind only to have a screaming child thrust in his arms before he’s even stepped through the front door. Just as sometimes he needs to remember what it’s like for me to never ever be able to go to even go to the toilet without some small person following me asking “How do our bones stick together, mummy?”. But this is not about me…

The other morning, I happened to wake briefly when my husband’s alarm went off and saw how cold and dark it was at that ungodly hour. I jumped up and hugged him tight and said thank you for doing this for all of us, before considerately collapsing back into the warm bed to sleep a little longer.  

When I spoke to him on the phone later in the day, he said “How did you know? This morning, more than any other morning, I was really struggling to get up and face the day… and then you thanked me. It made a big difference.”

And so I’m thanking you again now, my darling husband, in advance of Father’s Day this Sunday here in Australia. Thank you. For everything. 

Now, where’s that drink you were getting me?

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What’s with a world where a girl can’t wear a brand new pair of underpants and be confident of having the Best Day Ever?

I mean, I slipped on a spanking new pair the other day and I felt great. Like really great. Merely because I wasn’t wearing something that made my bum resemble an elephant’s arse: all saggy, baggy and grey.

Yes siree. Those new undies should have automatically reserved my right to have a Great Day. And not just a great day but a “Fucking Great Day” – you know, one of those days that earn you the right to swear, it’s that great.

And certainly not the kind of day where I end up in tears on the phone to the police because my husband appears to have gone missing.

“How does something like that happen, NDM?” I can hear the people ask. “How does a grown man, riding a bicycle home in wet weather, leave work at, say, 2pm and neglect to ring his wife before, say, 7:20pm? For example.”

My husband had said (he said!) he was going to do some Box Ted on his way home that fateful afternoon. At about 5:45pm, I thought “Sheesh? How long does it take to draw that stupid talking cupboard? It’s just a square!” and I began to worry. I rang him on his mobile: it was switched off. I rang his work: he’d left at the normal time. I rang KT. 

“I’m worried,” I said, having explained the situation.

“I’m worried, too,” she said. 

Now I was really worried. I usually count on KT to counterbalance any irrational anxiety I have with a “it’s all okay” or even a “get your hand off it, NDM”.  

“Ring me back if he’s not home in an hour,” she said. 

I agreed but an hour seemed like an impossibly long time to wait. I couldn’t concentrate and began pacing around the house. I kept going out to the now-dark street in the hope of seeing his bicycle light coming along the street. All those bloody “Work Safe” ads started playing in my head and, with them, that Dido song. And it certainly didn’t help that the kids kept asking where daddy was Every. Five. Seconds. 

At 6:43 (not quite the full hour), I rang KT again. With her help, I set myself a new target: ring the police and/or hospitals if he wasn’t home by 7:30pm. 

At 7:15pm, I cracked and rang the police. I’ve never had to ring the police before. My phone call started well: “Uh, good evening. I was wondering if you could help me. [voice modulates a few octaves higher at this point:] My husband hasn’t come uh-uh-uh-uh home: Blabhblblbabh blabhalllbaahhhh waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

The young policeman (he was young, they’re always young when these things happen on the telly) dealt with me very sensitively. They must get training for this, right? Dealing with women hysterically sobbing because their husband/child/handbag/car/ability-to-talk-in-a-normal-tone-of-voice appears to have gone missing?

The policeman took down my husband’s details and gently suggested that I check his usual route home in the car, ring the hospitals and then ring the police again if he wasn’t back until morning. 

I hung up, thinking I’d literally stop breathing if I had to wait until morning. And what could I possibly see along his normal route home? Would there be a chance he was sitting by the road, in the dark and drizzle, just having a little think to himself? Or did he mean to check actual places along the way where he might have stopped such as cafes, shops, opium dens, houses of ill-repute and…. pubs

As if on cue, my mobile rang and it was at last my husband, telling me he’d gone to the pub with one of his more notorious workmates, had his phone switched off and had “lost track of time”. 

At which point, I became one of those women who express their relief and love by shouting very loudly indeed and dropping an F cluster bomb or two, with their children well within earshot. 

For the record, my husband was incredibly sorry when he got home. And for the record, too, I was very nice to him, my anger having dissolved into pure relief and the happy knowledge that I had just earned myself a two-week artist-in-residency on the Moral High Ground.  So, in a strange kind of way, it was a New Underpants Day after all.

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The other day my husband was talking to me about his bicycle when a car hooned down our street. “Dickhead!” I blurted out.

“What? Are you talking to me?” my husband asked, knowing full well I wasn’t. “All I was saying is that I’ll have to stop frequently to make small adjustments on my bike tomorrow morning. I can’t see how that could possibly offend you so.”

“Yes,” I replied. “I was talking to you, you… you… Stop-Start Cyclist.”

And lo! The Stop-Start Cyclist was born! Together, my husband and I went on to workshop this new character, having him say stuff like “Oooooo! My tweed cape keeps getting caught in my spokes!” and “Damn it! I have to find a way to wear my deer hunter hat on top of my bicycle helmet without it slipping off every three minutes”. As if he didn’t have to stop enough with all this micro-adjustments to his Precious Bicycle with his teeny-weeny incy-wincy tools, dabbing his brow with a lavender-scented handkerchief in between turns of the spanner. 

This character we’d conjured from thin air made us laugh long and hard, as you often do when you’re exceedingly tired, and that might have been that.  

The next day, however, I found myself thinking more about the SSC and realised how apt a superhero alter-ego it was for my husband. (We all need one. Mine’s the Incredibly Pathetic Crying Lady. What’s yours?)

You see my husband, like a lot of people I know, suffers from a back condition for which he is forever trying to discover a cure. Sometimes he thinks cycling is the only thing that makes it feel better. Other times he proclaims cycling to be the Devil’s Own Transport and takes the bus instead. Quite frankly, I struggle to keep up with it all. On any given day it could be a case of “Four wheels good, two-wheels baaaaaaaaaad” or the complete opposite (I’ll let you work out what that is).

And so, the Stop-Start Cyclist is a hat which fits.

You must understand that this the same man who complains that sleeping under the summer-weight duvet is the equivalent of being made to sleep outside with a thin layer of wet tissue paper spread over him. But then, when I change over to the winter-weight duvet, this is the man who complains the next morning that he has “Hot Bed Poisoning.”

And this is the same man who upholds basmati rice as being exactly what his body needs and how it makes him feel energised and grrrrrrreat! And then when I offer it to him the next day, he grimaces and exclaims “That stuff is pure venom…” as if to accuse me of trying to kill him slowly but surely by way of long grain rice.

And this is the same man who I can never be sure how he takes his tea because it changes with Every. Single. Cup. 

Admittedly, there are many many things in which my husband is never ever stop/start with: his love, his loyalty, his support, his snoring. But blogging about those things isn’t anywhere near as amusing. 

And there’s another thing for certain: a life’s journey with the Stop-Start Cyclist can never be staid or boring. You never know what you’ll have to stop for next. And if stopping and starting means it’ll make him happy and maybe even one day free of back pain, I’m happy to just go with the flow (or lack thereof).

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The other day Uncle B got offered a free magazine subscription as part of some internet/mobile/Big Mac combo deal he signed up for. When faced with a choice of “House and Garden”, “The Women’s Weekly” and “Cosmopolitan” for his lovely wife (and my good friend) KT, he chose “Cosmopolitan”. 

When KT told me about it, I felt so proud of Uncle B and somewhat envious of their relationship. After two children, five years of marriage and four years languishing away in the suburbs together, he obviously still considers his wife to be a sassy’n’streetwise gal who needs to read articles like “How Do I Show That I’m Interested In Him And Not His Paycheck” (although, in a single-income family arrangement, that paycheck is pretty important…) and “25 Random Things You Don’t Want to Read About a Guy on Facebook” (as if those things could be anything but random). Anyway, it was one hell of a compliment.

Of course, before I knew it, I had admitted to KT that I would have definitely chosen “The Women’s Weekly” for myself and had even cited “the article and recipes” as my reasons, which left me with a peculiar taste of middle-aged frumpiness in my mouth for hours. Like the time my sister Belle pegged her itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny g-string next to my post-caesar “trampoline with leg holes” on the washing line. Or the first time I saw an outfit in the window of a Miller’s Fashion Club store and thought that it looked “quite nice” (and if you’re not acquainted with Miller’s Fashion Club, I think the inclusion of the words “Fashion Club” in the franchise name speaks volumes, as well as my reaction of “quite nice”).

To make myself feel better, I quickly emailed my husband with the question “If you had to choose me a magazine subscription out of “House and Garden”, “The Women’s Weekly” and “Cosmopolitan” which one would it be?”

His one line response: “Cosmo, surely, coz it has rude bits in it.”

Hmmm. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I suspect that was more a choice for himself than for me. Which was a timely reminder that the magazine’s real target audience is not women of the 18-25 year old age bracket but in fact Men.  Of any age.

The next time I saw Uncle B, I presented him with this idea that “certain men” placed in the same situation might subscribe to Cosmo for their wives with their own selfish reasons in mind. But Uncle B proved himself to be a far nobler creature. Apparently, the very nice telephone salesman in Bombay (no doubt prompted by the script in front of him) had made a special point of mentioning that Cosmo no longer ran their sealed section before confirming the subscription. And Uncle B went ahead with it regardless. Because he thinks his wife is sassy’n’streetwise and not because he himself is Some Kind of Pervert.

“Certain men”, take note.

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