17 Jun

Anything You Can Do…

It would be accurate to say I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person. In some logic-defying way, half-assedness takes more effort than just doing a good job (or doing nothing at all), and although this method is great when I’m “on,” it’s pretty sucky when I’m off, particularly because I know I’m capable of more, and so does everyone else. All of which is to say I pretty much dropped the ball on Father’s Day, am full of the appropriate amount of shame and regret, and am glad that at least preschool took up the slack with art projects and chocolate chip cookies packaged in a paper bag that Wombat embellished with real snakeskin recently inhabited by the class ball python. Very Pinterest.


“This is me and this is Dad and we’re hiding behind this wall spying on girls,” I kid you not.

Otherwise, my contribution to yesterday’s festivities was whipping out some Father’s Day books sent by HarperCollins, turning the weekend to-do list nagging down a few notches, and bringing Simon a cup of coffee in bed, where he was buried in children.


I feel the need to clarify here that although I brought him the coffee, even endured the stench and poured it into the mug myself (a task rewarded with the word “brave”), I didn’t actually make the coffee because I don’t actually know how to operate a coffeemaker. Is that the saddest thing you’ve ever heard, or just one of the saddest? I imagine it would be worse if I were a coffee drinker who didn’t know how to make her own coffee, but this is where I tell you that I fancy a glass of wine or champagne not infrequently, yet I’ve opened maybe five bottles in my life, combined. It helps that I don’t drink alone and therefore can always pass the buck, but still, it’s kind of pathetic.

So, mostly unrelated to Father’s Day, but very related to my incompetence at many things I should be ashamed to be incompetent at as a thirty-four-year-old wife and mother of two, I’ve been toying with the idea of working my way through a list of things I should at least be able to do but can’t/won’t/don’t, many of which I’ve identified because they would make my [poor, beleaguered] husband’s life easier. This isn’t any kind of Life List of Awesome Things about How Awesome I Am/Aspire To Be, and taken out of context it could give a particular type of person complicated feelings about my relationship to feminism and its intersection with married life, but, eh, it doesn’t really have anything to do with that. It has to do with my natural complacency about what things are My Jobs and what things are His Jobs, and it’s also a reflection of how lazy I am about learning new things. I’m in no way saying it’s not okay to split up tasks according to each partner’s strengths and/or weaknesses, I’m just saying that I feel like even if I’m not the Designated Coffee Brewer/Cocktail Mixer/Garbage Taker-Outer, I should at least know how to brew a pot/mix the perfect martini. (I do know how to take the garbage out, I just don’t. It’s icky and awkward and there are always cobwebs on the bin outside, and I will go so far as to stack garbage next to the kitchen trash if it means avoiding taking the full bag outside, and obviously I need to sack up and be a grown-up about this because COME ON.)

Please note that I’m not saying any of this is going to happen in any kind of formal, organized, sponsored (HA) way (or at all, actually), but I thought I’d put it out there/here, if only because I’m curious what you’d put on a similar list if you had one. So far I have:

–Brew a pot of coffee.
–Mix the perfect martini.
–Open a bottle of champagne without flinching.
–Open a bottle of wine without whining.
–Grill a hamburger.
–Take out the trash when it needs to be taken out.
–Change lightbulbs. (I did this last week; it’s not hard, but it just feels like a Man Job, so it didn’t even occur to me to do it myself until it just…occurred to me to do it myself, duh, and it was no big deal and I’d really like to shift my paradigm so things like this stop feeling like Man Jobs)
–Carbonate water with the intimidating homemade carbonation thingy Simon built that involves a big scary tank and big scary tubes and the possibility of something blowing up in my face. (You guys, he wears safety glasses when he uses it. I’m thinking of adding a helmet.)
–Use the weedwacker.
–Do stuff that requires getting on a ladder.
–Learn to belay him at the climbing gym.

What am I forgetting?

By    16 Comments    Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries


  • I would say that it’s fine to flinch when opening the champagne as long as you get it open. You don’t have to be brave about it, just efficient. I love champagne. I open bottles. I cringe a little every time because I have narrowly avoided breaking light fixtures, windows, and human occipital bones on several occasions.

  • I can’t make coffee unless it’s instant (or in a French press) but I love opening the wine and the champagne.

    I have no intention of knowing how to work the lawnmower, but I should probably be able to use the scanner without husbandly help, shouldn’t I?

  • Removing bugs from the house. I know I can do it. I used to before but now I conveniently let it be a dude job… Also, I don’t know how to use a coffee maker either. French press coffee is better anyway right?

  • I “don’t know how” to empty the dirty diaper dispenser. I don’t plan on “learning” to do it before our second kid is potty-trained.

  • Growing up, my job was weed whacking/mowing the lawn. Now, I have no idea how to do either. Good luck on the list, lady. xo

  • * These are all things I can/occasionally do, but mostly I make my husband do them:

    Plunge a toilet.

    Pull things out of the garbage disposal that don’t belong.

    Scoop the kitty litter.

    Take the trash cans to the curb.

    * Things I do not do:

    Dig holes (it’s rocky here).

    Hang Christmas lights.

    Fix shingles.

  • I recently started mowing the grass, and my mom laughs at me every time she hears I did it, because I used to SOB when my dad made me as a kid. But I don’t mind so much now. I don’t mind plunging toilets but I can’t do drywall repairs when pipes leak (nor do I fix the pipes) and I have no idea how to use the weedwacker.

    Actually, if we are being honest, I think Chris could probably learn to do a few household things around here. He has a lot of aversions that he shouldn’t. Like dishes. Not a woman’s job!

    • This second paragraph gets to the heart of why I feel the need to learn some of this stuff: Simon is a champ at housework, and he doesn’t consider any of it women’s work. He doesn’t always do things as well or as completely as I’d like (again with my all-or-nothingness), but he never has to be forced to do dishes or laundry, and some weeks he ends up doing the most. So the fact that he knows how to do (and does do often) My Jobs but I only know how to do a handful of His? It makes me feel like kind of a drip.

      But let’s be clear about something: I still think he should be in charge of cocktails and hamburgers and trash and insect removal and things requiring safety goggles (I am including champagne here) because he’s always going to be better at them. :)

  • I was just thinking yesterday that I need to stop being such a girly-girl with the power tools. I do damn near everything else (and when you live in the country with livestock, that’s a LOT of else), but I’ve been wanting some boards cut for YEARS to box in this heating duct in the upstairs hallway that was exposed when the plumber was searching for pipes and I keep asking my husband and he keeps not doing it and I need to just DO IT ALREADY with the circular saw.

    I can nail the pieces together without any trouble, but cutting them with the circular saw? I’m convinced I will chop off my hand. But I probably won’t. And I really want that heating duct hidden. So check back with me in a week or so to see if I managed to suck it up and conquer the power tool fear.

    P.S. I used to use the weed whacker, one of the many chores that I dropped when pregnant and never picked up again. Weed whacking SUCKS A LOT and I encourage you to think hard about whether this is anything you want to get involved in.

  • Change a tire? I do not know how to do that. Nor do I know how to brew coffee. I actually forced myself to learn and do it, once, then promptly forgot. But I don’t drink coffee, so …

    Champagne is easy. Hold the bottle at an angle, with your hand on the cork. Twist the bottle, slowly slowly, and eventually the cork will slide out with a little hiss. No pop! No cork flying, no bubbles spilling.

    No tips on wine, though. I use that Rabbit opener thing because I’m terrible at using a regular corkscrew like a normal person.

    I also don’t even know where our outside trash cans are, which is sad. And only recently discovered our compost pile. And I was the one who wanted the bin in the first place!

  • Okay, this is one of the best posts ever because:

    1. The caption of Wombat’s drawing.
    2. It makes me feel better about things I can’t/won’t do. (One of which is also taking out the garbage. I did it when I had to, like, when my mom made me, my roommates were out of town. Now I live alone, so you’d think I’d have to take it out myself, but luckily, my apartment building has cleaning ladies (called “ayi” in China) who come by once a week to do light cleaning and they take out my garbage! So, for the majority of the past 10 months, I only had to take it out once in a blue moon, when it was overflowing. And now that I have a boyfriend, he takes it out when it’s overflowing! (Man Job? Maybe not exclusively, but in my brain, why not? Besides, sometimes I have to clean up the pee that’s on the floor in the bathroom because he missed the toilet.)
    3. You guys do know you can buy carbonated water, right? I only ask because I’m worried about your safety. Well, mostly Simon’s safety because who would take the garbage out if something happens to him?

  • I’m still stuck on the fact that you don’t drink (or like) coffee. How is this possible? I used to do all the man jobs in the house because I had the house before the man came along, but the minute he did, I was more than happy to give them all up… mowing, weed whacking, nail hammering, what have you… I know I can do those things but I choose not to :) Sometimes I feel like I should do them occasionally just so I know I still got “it” or just to keep the old husband on his toes.

    I’m curious about the carbonated water thingie… is it so you can have fizzy drinks without drinking pop/soda/whatever? Like La Croix? Because I gave up pop and I miss the fizz and have been drinking La Croix, but really, the cost… ugh. But rigging my own, that might be worth looking into.

  • I feel like I really need to learn: how to grill a hamburger, how to fry an egg, and how to (effectively) plunge the toilet. Most other things I either know how to do (what up changing a tire on the side of the 5!) or we already kind of split. Luckily my guy likes french press coffee, so I know how to do that too! (I’m not a drinker of the stuff myself).

    I do think this is a great idea though. I was thinking the other day as he did something, “wow, I’m so lucky I don’t have to do this because he’s here” but the reality is that I really should know how even if I don’t always do it.

  • Leah, I am shocked. Really, I am.
    And by all you other ladies, too, who don’t know how or won’t do things……

    Even if you don’t do those things often, it will bring such a sense of empowerment when you know you simply can.

    I’m almost 32 years old, I don’t have children or even a man/friend right now, and my parents live a decent drive away. Hence? I.do.everything.

    Go forth and MAKE THAT COFFEE!

  • I…. can’t really think of much that I can’t/don’t/won’t do anymore. It’s not that we don’t have a list, it’s more that I know how to mow the lawn, change a tire, mix a martini (there’s a website that helped with that). I struggle with bug removal in the house. However, after my husband went on two two-week-long business trips to Japan, I kind of had to learn or tasks would go undone.

    However, I don’t change the lightbulbs in the kitchen. that is a height thing: I am 5′ tall. He is 6’2″. The kitchen ceilings are 12 feet up. Our step ladder is 2.5 feet (enough for me to reach the top shelves in the cabinets), and a chair is three and my arms aren’t long enough to reach elsewise.

    I think I need a taller stepladder.

  • I should say I’ll learn how to use the lawnmower, but I really really don’t want to. There has to be something else.

Have at it!

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