Monday, December 13, 2010

It's a rum thing, change

I came home early today. It was hot, I was tired, and there were some things I needed to do at home today. Once home, I really meandered around, still hot but also restless.

I had a sore neck last night. I was also worried about my weekly newspaper column. I had written it and sent it off, but didn't feel that I had the balance right. This worried me, so finally I got up about 3:30 to rewrite it. Initially it was hard, for I was still very tired. Then I got going and felt better when I had rewritten it.  

It's a rum thing, change. I write about it a lot. Indeed, my column was really about the need to manage change in a very particular context.

I don't know about you, but I find it much easier in a personal sense to manage change when I feel that in some way I have a secure base. 

For much of the last fourteen years my personal rhythms have been set by my family, and especially my daughters.This has included being the main cook and bottle washer. Things change.

Saturday I sat the family down to try to find out who would be home for dinner over the next week. This would help me know what to buy, as well as cook.

My wife is on a special diet at the moment with food delivered, so she is out of the equation. Well, not absolutely. I have still to keep an eye out for things such as Soy Milk Lite or blush grapefruit, but that's about it. So it's then a question of which girl might be home for meals.

I found that in terms of evening meals, I was cooking for two Saturday, myself only Sunday and Monday, two Tuesday, me Wednesday, perhaps two on Thursday, Friday unknown.

Again, things aren't quite what they seem. For both Saturday lunch and dinner I had more because Clare had friends around. So I have to be flexible.

Now there are a couple of funny things in all this.

To begin with, cooking for one takes not much less time than cooking for more. If I am my own, then the inclination to actually cook goes down. I am more inclined to simply snack, which is not especially good for me.

During the time that I have been cooking for others with varying tastes, I have gone to lowest common denominator food, putting aside some of my personal favourites. Now, in theory, I have the chance to try them again, things like Vietnamese salads or thick stews.

It doesn't quite work that way. I have actually forgotten how to cook some of them. Then I still have to accommodate others, even if the number is less.

The thing that I miss most is the loss of our Sunday roasts. This used to be a family event, one where others often came. Sometimes, we even sat at a table! I still cook roasts because I like them, but the sense of occasion has gone.

Two things happened during the last week.

The first was an interview for a possible assignment. I was interviewed by two nice nice, bright, if much younger women. We got talking about house husbands. They were astonished at my stories of female sexism, although they could see my point.

The second was an email exchange with a commenter who was talking about his own experiences as the primary child carer. In many ways, they were similar to mine.

One of the difficulties that men face in taking on new family roles is the absence of real guidance, of examples, that can indicate both what to do and the best ways to avoid the negatives.

My mother went through very similar experiences to me as my brother and I grew up. I remember her comments.

Many women have been and are going through the experiences of career dislocation associated with family. To a degree, men are simply adjusting to conflicts that women have always known. Yet the experiences of men are very different. 

This is partly the way we grew up, partly a matter of different male and female drivers, of the way we see our roles, of the way we interact with others. However, men in new roles also have to deal with the absence of any form of support network.

As I said, change is a rum thing. Maybe I should write more on this matter. 

No comments: