Thursday, August 10, 2006

balancing act

This weekend I felt old. For some reason, the responsibilities of adulthood were weighing heavy on me. I don't know why. We had a busy weekend, to be sure, but not anything overly unusual.

I think it really hit home at my best friend's wedding. Her new husband is a little younger than her and a lot of his friends were there. So I was in the company of people in their early twenties, generally unmarried and all without children. Granted, they did their best to avoid us like the plague. After all, we were largely engaged in supervising our kids. Nature Boy and I sat at our table, doling appetizers to our three children and ordering kiddie cocktails from the very nice and understanding bartenders. We took turns bouncing the Ubergoober on our knees, trying desperately to entertain him in an environment that was not meant to host toddlers. We played the alphabet game with Ty and Sam to alleviate their own substantial boredom. We talked with the other thirty-somethings and their children.

We did not drink things like tequila sunrises or beer from the over-pumped keg. We did not discuss which bar to patronize after the reception. We did not discuss the latest Nelly video nor the latest "Scary Movie" coming out on DVD. In short, we had nothing in common with these people.

It wasn't until the buffet line that I came into direct contact with the other species. For the record, the buffet was set up strange. You got your salad at the same time as your dinner, meaning that your plate balancing skills had to be top-notch to navigate the food. I was waiting to fill my plate with beef tips and noodles when I couldn't help but overhear the conversations around me.

"Oh, that is such a good idea!" one girl squealed as she noticed another nubile creature and her boyfriend swapping plates.

"Well, it just makes sense," the nubile one replied. "This way, he can fill up our dinner plates and I can just tell him what I want. And he doesn't drop his salad."

"That's how I can tell you guys are ready to get married," the other one said with a sage nod. "You know how to work the buffet line."

I almost choked. This was a good basis for marriage? The ability to juggle plates at a buffet line? Umm, yeah. Because this is something that comes up every day at home. Lord knows we never discuss anything else. Certainly not things like money and groceries and children and family issues and school and... and... well, you get the idea. I felt smug. Superior. I knew better. This was not a reason to marry someone. You needed love and compassion and negotiating skills and knowledge of accounting laws.

I looked back at Nature Boy, back at the table, feeding the kids. He had gone through the buffet line previously with Ty and Sam, gathering victuals for the minor contingent, while I remained at the table and did my best to amuse the Ubergoober. It was our routine. Our way of dividing and conquering our responsibilites for maximum effect. We've honed these skills in our time together. It seemed ridiculous to me to equate balancing plates with things like balancing child-care duties.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't as absurd as I initially believed. Maybe this is where we start, navigating the little things like buffet line and bar choices, and gradually working our way up to the bigger duties like household chores and children. After all, if you can't figure out who's going to be holding the plates at a wedding reception, how are you going to figure out who's going to be holding the children's plates at home? Good thing we have those training sessions.

5 comments:

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Pendullum said...

Amazing how isolating family life can be in the most social of family based occasions...

But through it all I could see you smile when looking over at Nature Boy and see him balancing Ty and Sam...
And I could almost hear you sigh while entertaining Ubbergoober,...
It is a Wonderful Life...

Mom101 said...

This is such a fantastic essay! For me, it was navigating the movie theater. You know: You get on the ticket buyer's line, I'll get on the ticket holder's line. You get the popcorn, I'll save the seats. Then you come back to the seats, I'll go to the bathroom...and so forth.

THanks for the comment at my place that pointed me over here. I'll be back. (Which is more than I can say for "Pat" above)

bubandpie said...

I love the way you worked through all the emotions: exclusion, smug superiority, and finally - what? empathy? acceptance? Something good, anyway.

And yeah, I think I'll take this over Lemon Law too.

Anonymous said...

Who will put the pajamas on one while the other is still being dried out of the tub...

Yes. Nice post.