This morning I washed the breakfast dishes and did the laundry. A few minutes ago, I put clean sheets on our twin beds. I'm a bit awkward at the task, but I did it.
This kind of household labor isn't new to me, because I made beds in the days when Shirley worked full-time. After I entered graduate school, she went to work to support our three children and me. That enabled me to study full-time and work part-time as a pastor.
I instigated the change. I referred to it as a division of labor. Making beds, washing dishes, and doing laundry were tasks I could do, even if not as skillfully as she did.
In those days, the children were able to help with the cooking. I learned to use the slow cooker and heat up leftovers. I read and followed recipes. Providing delicious meals, however, was a skill beyond my ability.
After Shirley retired, she said she wanted to take over those duties. She reminded me that I had done them to support her efforts to bring in finances.
Her return to homemaker responsibility occurred 20 years ago and we adjusted easily.
Recently, however, I've gone back to the household tasks. This time my motivation is different. Even though she sometimes insists on helping, she's not physically well enough to do them.
The combination of residual effects from a car accident, the development of severe arthritis, and the progressive deterioration of her spine, means she lives with pain every day. Despite medication, the physical torture is never fully gone.1