The assistants I need.

When I was growing up, my widowed mother would occasionally announce (as she juggled far too many arrangements, schedules, and shopping trips) that she needed a wife. Occasionally, she would map out a new dating life, predicated on whatever our greatest need was at the moment (busted car? “I need a boyfriend who’s a mechanic!”).

I, however, am married. Dude isn’t dead, so bringing a wife in would just complicate matters, and dating strikes me as a solution ill-fit to our lives at this stage. I’m just going to have to start hiring people.

First: Someone who knows where all the clothes go. I don’t love doing the laundry, but you know: Ok. The husband brings it down, I sort, put it through the machines, bring it up, he folds, and then the boy brings the piles to their appropriate rooms, putting his own in drawers. The husband is equally speedy with his own pile. I, however, take days to entirely put away the piles I’m responsible for, which amount to three, with three sub-piles: Mine, the girl’s, and the linens — subpiled thusly: Towels, sheets, table linens. Days, I’m telling you, days, at which point, I may well have started the newest round of washing.

Second: Someone who knows where all the food goes and will also impart to my brain telepathically what they’ve done with it. This one is particularly tricky, because about, oh, I don’t know, 43% of the time, the husband actually puts away the groceries in my stead, and that’s very nice indeed. I don’t know why, but I really hate putting away the groceries, so when he just walks into the kitchen and takes over, I am quite genuinely delighted.


  1. He occasionally puts things in the wrong places, aka, the places I would never think to put them, and
  2. If I don’t do the putting away, I often forget that I’ve done the buying (not, you know, the entire trip to the store — just one or two particular items. So I’ll be all “Oh, damn, I can’t make that thing that is one of the five things that everyone in my family will eat because we don’t have the stuff!” Only to find the stuff later that night).

Which leads me to – Third: Someone who knows the five things that everyone in my family will eat and will come to my house to make those things. I was never a gourmet, or a foodie, or whatever, but I was a pretty fair cook, who more than occasionally enjoyed the process. I would even seek out and try new recipes! I know!

And then I had children. (Who, it should be noted, I love more than life itself).

The-having-of-children led to at least three things that get in the way of my sorta-foodie status: Lack of time, lack of energy, and lack of options. Oh, oh! And a fourth thing: You never get to choose not to.

These dang kids, they need to eat, actual meals, three times a day! And if we don’t manage to arrange that, they get ornery! I have this crazy notion that we should all eat more or less the same thing for supper (and supper only!), but, hemmed in by my first-born’s neo-phobia (yes, it’s a thing, and while he’s mostly over it now, you can catch up with the rest of the class here) — I quickly found myself with a very short list of dinners that work for everyone. That list has expanded a bit, but I’ll tell you what: I do get sick of it. I keep trying to institute a rule that once a week I get to make whatever I actually want to eat, but this always falls apart when I consider that, no matter what, I will still have to feed the damn children.

Fourth: Someone who will read my newspapers and will also impart to my brain telepathically what they say. I am a newsprint gal. I love the feel of newspapers, the rattle of the pages, the smell of the ink. When I was 11 years old, I delivered the Chicago Daily News, and when that venerable institution folded, the Chicago Tribune (come to think of it, perhaps I should have taken that as a sign). I went on to write for a number of papers, off and on, for many years, and I will subscribe to the Chicago Tribune until Zell’s antics + the death of print result in its inevitable burial.

It’s just that lately I never actually read it.

I don’t know why (why does one particular thing become that thing you never find the time for?), but the papers stay in their plastic sleeves for days and days until I finally open five or ten of them at a time (really), and go through them randomly, often concentrating almost exclusively on the comics.

But I refuse to drop the subscription, so it would be really, really helpful if someone could do the reading for me.

Fifth: Someone who will intuit when I need to get my car looked at, and will do it for me. I am always nervous that something’s wrong, have no faith in my ability to determine if that something is worthy of a look-see, and am forever confident that the guy in the shop is either missing the real problem, or ripping me off.

If only my mom had started dating that mechanic — they would be married by now, and I would be totally set! Why do mothers never consider the needs of their children?

Damn it.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.


  1. I would settle for a person who could show my husband where the food is. He’s not alone; I find most males expect food to magically appear in front of their face; produce drawers are unknown territory. How anthropologists posited that they were the “hunters” of the hunter/gatherers I’ll never know; modern men don’t hunt for food. Period.

  2. Husband does number five, the car thing, for me. This might be the most valuable stereotypically dudely thing he could possibly have done… I can organize and put away but I spent the ages of 19 – 27 living without a car (and the ages of 0 – 18 not being responsible for the upkeep of one) and this whole “was that a noise? did it make a noise? oh god, was that a fluid?” thing mystifies me.

    Also we each do our own laundry, and he washes the sheets & towels but I fold them. I grew up in a house where every member did their own laundry (I was deemed old enough to do my own around 3rd grade, when I made the mistake of claiming I thought the washing machine and basement were interesting) and I am determined that ours shall be the same way for as many years as possible (while realizing there are going to be impossible years). 😉

  3. BJonthegrid

     /  December 30, 2010

    I have a husband. He is very sweet, laid-back and non-confrontaional. Although I am very passionate about several subjects, he doesn’t care about politics, or religion. We are the couple that makes everyone rethink their crappy marriages. The only problem is that we had children together. That requires a spouse to become a parenting partner and this man is sweet, laid back, non-confrontational, and doesn’t care about religion or politics!

    I guess the kids will benefit from the two different parenting personalities but since I am the Wicked Witch of the East (who organizes everything) I think I need some minions. Also a potty elf that will make sure the toliet seats are always down.

  4. zic

     /  December 30, 2010

    I would like a driver and a car with blackout shades.

    I get severe migraine, strobing light is my most common trigger. So riding subways; daylight flashing between trees and buildings, florescent lights and disco balls are all anathema for me.

    But a car with black out shades and a driver; I could go places and do things (except the discos and big-box stores). That would be freedom.

  5. That’s so weird. My mother and I were just having a conversation about this the other day, or more specifically, we were having a conversation about the-things-that-women-just-have-to-miraculously-figure-out-but-somehow-men-never-have-to-worry-about. Because it does sound like your husband is probably better at the putting clothes/food away, so maybe he should be the one worrying about it.

    But that’s me being presumptuous. Maybe he is worrying about it, but I’m just not reading his blog, I’m reading yours.

    • First of all – hey! You’re an Emily! My middle name is Lynn, so: Emily Lu, Emily Lynn….

      But that’s not my point! My point is: 🙂

      My husband is a miles ahead of many men out there, some of whom I know and love and know to be swell people and loving husbands. It’s just that at a certain point, the labor gets divided based on skill set and abilities, and what can I say? He is fully committed to being a fully serviceable second banana on the home front (with the understanding that while he might not have been expected to know certain things growing up, he needs to learn them now), but at the end of the day, we’d both agree that if certain things are to be done efficiently, I’d best take the lead. I don’t love it, but that’s mostly because I’m lazy, not because I’m misunderstood or exploited or, you know, that sort of thing! Also, and really more to the point, he fully appreciates it. The problem of “women’s work” is not in the work, per se, but in the lack of respect it’s still afforded in so many quarters. When the brings-home-the-bacon partner knows that the largely-stay-at-home partner is working damn hard and is deserving of respect and genuine support, the whole picture looks much different.

      Oh! And I also meant to say: He’s better at staying on task, in almost all things. These particular tasks, however, are better directed by me, even with that understanding!

  6. I love how you write about exactly what I’m thinking, with more wit and clarity and introspection.

  7. stephen matlock

     /  January 13, 2011

    I realize this is an old post, but you forgot two more:

    “Someone who will read all the web pages begging for my eyes and pick the one or two lines from the top 5 and summarize them in bullet points for me.”

    “Someone who will physically remove the TV remote control from my hand and make me go to bed instead of looking for something interesting for once.”

    I’m off to bed now myself as no one came to rescue me from the evil clutches of my TV, a full 2 hours past the time where I should be asleep, but Google and Chrome and idle time directed me to your delightful blog.

    • Old, schmold. These are excellent points! I’m glad you found the place, and I am myself exhausted today in part because of the failure of the universe to provide me with your point #1.

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