I am trapped in a weird amalgam where I am the female axis upon which the male world of my household spins.
This is surprising, given the fact that I have four daughters. These daughters, though, are older now and doing their own thing, while the husband—always needy, the nine year old son—same way, and the two boy-dogs—triple that neediness, remain.
After roughly 13 years of living with teenaged girls, drowning in a sea of of prom dresses, up-dos, visiting boyfriends, break ups, bickering and dieting, I am now tossed onto another shore littered with unabashed farting, forced bathing, open-mouth chewing, stinky socks and football.
Well, maybe it actually is, because my lawn is hiding snipers armed with Nerf guns and acres of Lego pieces. Have you ever stepped on a Lego in your bare feet? It’s like walking across a bed of hot coals which were laid upon a bed of spikes.
As soon as I walk in the door each day, I am besieged by the desperate gaze of my Great Dane and the sound of my emotionally unbalanced German Shepherd, panting like a pervert over the phone. He sits there, with his—as my husband puts it—“lipstick out”, as if such a thing were enticing.
Honestly, I’m going to have to get that dog pants. Or a restraining order.
From the depths of the house my husband yells, “Errricaaaaa!”, and when I answer “What?”, I am greeted by silence. I march upstairs to see what the problem is and find him gazing blankly at the television. “What do you need?” I ask, trying to keep my voice even because I know what’s coming next.
“Nothing,” he says, pleasantly. “Just wanted to know where you were.”
I shake my head and walk down the hall to my son’s room, who I find playing Black Ops with a maniacal look of determination on his face. I reflect for the umpteenth time about why I let myself be cajoled into buying this horrible game, and if I can get away with sneaking in here in the middle of the night and lighting it on fire.
“How was you day?” I ask him, as he tours Iraq, ruthlessly murdering innocent civilians and dropping Black Bettys left and right.
“Sure,” he says.
“How was your day?” I say again, a little louder this time, hating the tone of my voice.
“What? Fine, mom. Hey! Can I show you the weapon I just made?”
In the kitchen, I prepare a manly dinner involving meat and potatoes, warming up my girly leftovers on the side. What I wouldn’t give for a female to keep me company as we eat off a plate, while sitting down—food that didn’t involve anything more gruesome than an immersion blender and some chopped garlic.
Our home is sinking beneath the weight of stereo typical gender roles, but not because I’ve encouraged them. My kids all came into the world the gender paradigms that they are.
Sometimes I fantasize about having a gay son; a person who neither gets their period or wants to shoot me with foam bullets, but it’s too late for that. The factory is closed.
As turgid as the testosterone waters are around here, things could be worse. At least I have daughters who pass through from time to time. My two best friends have four sons a piece, all under the age of nine, and not a girl among them. Thinking about the things they must find in their laundry makes my stomach churn.
Of course, in the midst of my muttering and prying out Legos from between my toes, I should remember to take a moment to appreciate these days in all their boyish splendor. There will come a time, and quickly too, when my son is grown and hollering at his own wife, when my sweet dogs won’t lurk with unseemly bodily protrusions by the door, and when my husband is too old, perhaps, to care.
Those will be lonely days indeed.
As I fire up the grill this evening, and set the flesh upon it to feed the men, I will try to regard with gratitude the sounds of battle coming from inside. My husband squishing my son on the couch, my son screaming with pleasure, the two dogs barking and jumping into the fray until they are all a big pile of sweaty limbs. I will lug the meat into the house, get out of the way as fast as I can while the four of them descend on it, and retire to my corner where a bowl of butternut squash soup awaits.
And later, when I put my son to bed, and he declares with rapture that he “is going to fart on me”, I will smile as I hold my breath, turn around, and share with him a fart to really think about.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise