Thursday, October 11, 2012

A House `Husband`

The other day I met an old friend after a long time. He asked me ‘So what do you do these days?’

With a sheepish grin I said, ‘Oh, I have become a full time House Husband’.

He was intrigued. ‘What do you mean?’ he asked me.

‘You see my wife has not been keeping well and since she needs complete rest, I am doing her job in the house. ‘

My friend wished me good luck and a speedy recovery to my wife and moved on to meet another friend.

I believe I am not an MCP (must check with my wife on what she thinks about that) and have always tried to help around the house in whatever way I can. During the last two months I have realised that there is a world of difference between a part time helper and taking charge of running the household.

Since I enjoy cooking, the first thing I did was to ban my wife from entering the kitchen and promised her that I will take care of the food needs of everyone in the house – that is my wife & I apart from my son and daughter-in-law who join us over the weekends. Besides that, as we live in a house complex with my siblings and my son`s family staying nearby, there is always a variety of food items available during any meal.

But I have realised that the toughest part is what happens before and after each meal. Though there is a part time maid servant who helps in cleaning after the cooking, the need to keep washing the small plates, drinking glasses and other miscellaneous items which constantly appear, is a demanding chore. And so is the effort to keep the kitchen clean, regularly wiping the granite slabs and kitchen sink and the dining table after every big and small meal!

The pressure starts from the morning, when I have to plan the menu for the day – not just the meals but also the variety of fruit juices and soups to give to my ailing wife at periodic intervals. Even that is not as difficult as the effort needed to keep the whole house neat and clean as per the high benchmarks established by my better half. I can no more throw away used clothes in the corner nor can I scatter the books and the papers I read all over the house. Now I have to keep them in their rightful places. I have to ensure that the clothes for washing are sorted out into colour and white , the collars and other soiled areas brushed before they are loaded into the washing machine. And also ensure that the dried clothes are collected in the evening, folded neatly, placed in their designated compartments in the cupboard!

I have to worry and attend to every little plumbing, electrical or the maintenance problem that a housewife faces every day and see that the difficult-to-get plumber, electrician, etc. do their jobs properly and attend to callers, who keep ringing the doorbell constantly ( It is another irritant to be put up with ), Most annoying are the courier guys who make it a point to disturb you when you are trying to have a well-deserved afternoon siesta to recharge your batteries.

Then, there are visitors calling to enquire about my wife’s health and offering useful and sometimes not so useful suggestions. I have to offer them a cup of tea or coffee. When relatives visit from far off places then I have to offer them atleast a simple meal.

I have to also cope up with outstation house guests- brothers, assorted cousins , uncles, aunts and in-laws visiting us for a couple of days. You have to worry about looking after their timely requirements in addition to the needs of a patient at home, in terms of giving her timely medicines.

There is so much pressure at home that I have no time to think of anything else. So much so I have lost count of the days and dates. The other day I got confused about the day of the week. I thought it was Tuesday when it was already Wednesday. There are days when I find that I have had no time to go out, except for my mandatory morning walks!

If you are finding yourself short of breath just reading this piece, as I did, imagine the mindboggling stress and strain that housewives, especially women with school going children go through every day.

The job of a house ‘husband’, as I am finding it the hard way, is very tough! Fortunately, as a retired man with all the time available, I am enjoying the 24 x 7 project that God has forced on me! To be of service to my better half, who has slogged all her life to provide me a beautiful home and a wonderful family, is a privilege indeed!

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