GH and I pride ourselves on having open lines of communication. I don't think the pride is misplaced. We work hard to communicate and we're not afraid to bring up tough stuff as needed. We work very hard not to keep score in that, "I took out the trash so you have to do the dishes" kind of way. We have a few chores that are designated his or hers, but mostly we share tasks depending on who is feeling well, who's tired, how much needs to get done, etc. It's a system that works well for us.
Most of the time.
But then there are the times that part of me does start to keep score. Because let's face it: GH is sick, he's often fatigued, he needs to rest, and when you get right down to it, I end up doing more around the house. This truly does not bother me most of the time. GH's health is very important to me and I want him to do everything he can to take care of his body. Resting is an important part of his self care.
Last night we got home from GH's chemo around 5:00. He had been complaining of fatigue all day, and he immediately set himself up on the couch to watch some TV, do some Sudoku, and relax. Fine--the man just had chemo, he deserves it. I did laundry, paid some bills, made dinner, packed our lunches, returned some phone calls, usual house stuff. We ate. I got him to help me hang some art in our bedroom, but it was like pulling teeth because he was so tired. I felt a little bad for pushing him and encouraged him to go to bed. He did not, but he's a grown-up so I'm not going to insist. I did some work for class. We both went to bed around 10:30. I read, he read. I slept around 10:35 (still can't make it through that Rushdie book!) I woke up at midnight to find him STILL READING.
OK, as I write this, I feel like it sounds crazy and whiny. But I got SO MAD when I saw him still reading at midnight. He's too tired to help me do anything around the house, but he's not too tired to read until late? Guess what? This will make him too tired to do anything helpful again tonight.
I kind of let him have it, and he felt bad. Then I couldn't sleep because I felt so conflicted on so many levels:
The Illness Level. The man has cancer. He needs to rest, plus I feel like he deserves to indulge his rather mild guilty pleasures (sci-fi shows on DVD, Sudoku, staying up late reading). And I am not sick, my energy level is good, and I do like to do things that are comforting and helpful to him.
The Gender Roles Level. Although we work hard not to fall into typical gender stereotypes about who cooks, who cleans, etc., it's hard to avoid. The illness factor contributes to this as since I do more stuff around the house, I take on that traditionally female role. But I feel like most of my girlfriends complain about this to some extent. Even if husbands/boyfriends/partners are willing to help out around the house (like GH, when he's feeling up to it), I get tired of having to ask. I just want him to DO, without being asked. I think this is a common male/female dynamic, and our situation can sometimes exacerbate it.
The Pregnancy Level. I may be feeling great right now, but I'm pregnant! I, too, would rather rest and relax than do all the housework and lunch packing and etc. I have hobbies and projects that I'd like to indulge in the shortening time before the babies get here, and without GH's help, I don't have much time to spare.
The "I Should Just Get Used to Doing It Myself Anyway" Level. GH's illness is terminal, barring a miracle. I often feel like I just need to suck all this stuff up and get used to doing it on my own because eventually I'm going to have to. I might as well just have it be part of my routine.
It's timely that this should all come to a head for me shortly after posting about asking for help. It does not take rocket science to determine that asking for help, from GH or others, is part of the solution to the problem here.
But it's also true that part of this problem just can't be fixed. I burst into tears the other night when I was packing our lunches because I just want things to be different. I want GH to be healthy. I want to have a "normal" life like most young couples. I want to be able to make plans and go out on weeknights if we feel like it and giggle about how funny it will be to be old together. I know everyone lives with uncertainty in their lives and that any one of us could get hit by a bus tomorrow, but I'm tired of the uncertainty be all up in my grill. Actually, it's not the UNcertainty that I'm tired of, it's the certainty--much as I want to deny it and much as I fervently hope that something changes--that what I've got right now isn't going to last.