I try to be a mensch (a good person and a good term to have in your Yiddish arsenal). I hold doors for people, I merge responsibly, I let people with just a few items go ahead of me at the checkout, I’d even grab items from higher shelves for short people were I not so shrimpy myself. I try to be kind to people who are sick, talk to people who are sad, and tell people when I appreciate something they’ve done. All of these things might be considered mitzvot (plural of mitzvah), i.e., “good deeds”.
But I’m in a huge mitzvah debt on the home front, where I am blessed with both a husband and a wife. J. does almost everything around here because my energy is so limited. The indoor work, the outdoor work, the paycheque work, everything. She mows the lawn and weeds (I can’t tell weeds from flowers), and she’s banned me from using the snowblower. She does the laundry and irons and cleans the house. In return, I walk the dog and cook and bake and tidy and run errands, within my limits, but much of my time is devoted to caring for myself.
When I was describing this labour imbalance to some friends, an astute young girl asked: “But what do YOU do?” Touché. I speak of this inequity often to remind people that taking care of a sickie involves a lot more than just going to doctors’ appointments together.
Recently, J. had to go out after dinner so, after doing the dishes (a rarity), I tried to do a mitzvah: I decided to take out the overflowing garbage and recycling for the first time in months. I lugged my load out to the back alley. My efforts were thwarted, however, by the theft of our city-provided bins. Our garbage must be mighty appealing for someone to have lifted the bins. Upon her return, J. located the wandering bins and completed the task for me.
The next day, I decided to wash the floor. If I don’t do it (and I never do) you know who will. Just as I finished my lunch and got ready to mop, Jelly started vomiting on said floor. And she kept vomiting for a record hour and a half, until her other mother arrived home. I can’t say I washed the whole floor, but I sure did a good series of spot cleans.
Today was the final straw: it was a beautiful day so I decided to attempt some weeding. I wasn’t kidding when I said I couldn’t tell the flowers from the weeds. So a few minutes in, after having harvested one of our two successful garlic plants more than a bit early, I texted this picture to J., with one word, “Weed?”
Her response? “STOP. And desist immediately. I’m serious. Get out of my garden NOW!!!!” And so I answered, “There has only been one death by Annie so far.” J. ended the exchange with: “This isn’t funny. Please stop.” And so I did.
These attempts are but the tip of the iceberg of my partner inadequacy. Who am I kidding calling my efforts mitzvot? I’m just doing something that would normally and unfairly fall to J.
At this moment, J. is outside trying to replant the garlic, and I’ve come in to make dinner. And we’ve both decided that I will stay inside and not try to do anything, since all I do is make work for J. I guess I’ll just have to find other ways to express my appreciation. Come to think of it, she’s never turned down my baking.
Oh. J. just texted: “You could bring me a beer.” That’s the least I could do. Gotta run!