You may well write this story off as a simple tale of moving stuff from one shed to another…
…and you’d be right. But this story is also, possibly, an allegory of gender and the division of labour.
We’ve moved house eight times in eight years. Andrew is brilliant at it, he has some kind of God-given talent for knowing how to stack and pack things, plus he’s really strong, very logical and has a great sense of thinking-things-through-properly. I have none of these things. In fact by now, after eight house moves, there’s something about moving anything that just pisses me off. So I was a bit surprised when I offered to move all our crap from one shed into another. Though considering this is being done in order to turn the first shed into a writing space for me, it might have been a teensy bit ungracious had I not.
Andrew was working and Raff was in nursery a day early, (they warned me I’d crack before the holidays were out), so it was just Bear and me.Out into the rain and mud we went, dodging the rat poison and slimy plastic bags to move all the crap from the damp, mouldy, smelly first shed into the damp, mouldy, smelly second shed. And you know what, it wasn’t terrible. In fact it was nice. Because for once, it was just the two of us. He held my hand and chatted the whole time; ‘can we take this ball into the house mum?’, ‘can we take this trolley thing into the house?’ ‘I just weed a bit in my trousers, mum,’. Using the trolley thing he transported all 158 of my old glossy magazines from the shed to our house.
After about an hour we came in to have a little rest and hot chocolate. And he was delighted with himself because he loves helping and I was equally delighted because I’d just discovered the trolley thing is Longchamp. We were wet, grubby and the hallway looked like Glastonbury from where we’d traipsed in and out with the magazines. Hell, I looked like Glastonbury. But we’d just spent an hour together, doing the stuff that he usually does with his dad while I’m inside. And later, when he was on the loo and talking about whether or not to have the Gruffalo for his bedtime story, it was me that he wanted to read to him, not his dad, as is the case the vast majority of the time.
Oh yeah I nearly forgot; the allegory bit.
Women complain quite a bit about the unfairness of domestic drudgery. But not many women I know (mostly me) are taking the bins out in the rain or changing tyres on the side of a motorway. And to be fair, not many men I know (mostly Andrew) complain about doing these shitty jobs. Even though they’d probably rather be indoors where it’s safe and warm and comfortable. So perhaps, if we sometimes go outside and do the shitty jobs, then our sons will occasionally want to hang out with us as well as their dads.
Thereby freeing up loads of lovely time for the dads to get on with doing fun stuff for themselves.