Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The chef and the concierge

For nearly all the 29 years Art and I have been together, he has been the food shopper and the cook. 

I was a single mom when we met, working full time and scrambling to get everything done. I had a pantry, but it was mostly empty because I bought groceries on the fly. When he first started spending time with us, he'd arrive with grocery bags full of canned goods, and within a few months he'd stocked the pantry shelves.

I'd been fixing meals for my elementary-school boys for six years by then, but they were simple affairs, dictated by the needs of the kids rather than by any enjoyment I had for cooking. Once Art's three youngest children started visiting (Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other weekend), it was harder. One night his six-year-old son Peter said, "My mom is a better cook." I said, "I'll bet she is!" (She is!). So Art started preparing dinners for everyone, and he has done it ever since.

Art is a coupon clipper and sale shopper. Maybe it's because he was one of ten children in a working-class family. He'll go to five stores and pick up what's on sale that we need. I take my list and go to the closest place. He says, "You don't shop. You buy." So he has done almost all the grocery shopping for 25 years.

Last summer, Art did the electrical work for the remodel of the lower level of our house. He spent a lot of time on ladders, reaching up. He has spinal stenosis in his lower back, and it got aggravated. After three months of pain, he got an epidural cortisone injection, which helped, and then he overdid and reinjured himself. He has been waiting for three months to get another injection. In the meantime, he walks bent over, because that's the least painful position for walking.

For nearly all the years Art and I have been together I have been the person who does the paperwork, operates the computer and talks on the phone. He is a man of few words and I am not, he doesn't like computers at all and I like them enormously. It used to be easier, but now we are older and we need to contact health care providers for appointments and medications and Medicare coverage and coordination of benefits between Kaiser Permanente for the six months each year we live in Washington, and Banner Health for the six months we live in Tucson. 

Recently I've also been the person who gathers the trash to put it at the curb, who retrieves the newspaper most mornings, who changes the overhead lightbulbs on the porch, who rehangs the shower curtain after it's washed. Art hasn't got a lazy bone in his body, but he does have sciatic pain all the way down his legs since his back injury last summer. And, also recently, I've sometimes felt like he was taking advantage of the situation. 

Then I had an insight. I am serving as a concierge to Art. That sounds more positive. And, thinking about it, I acknowledge that he has been my personal shopper and chef for a very long time. Seems fair.

I feel better now that I know I'm a concierge!

Art gets his second epidural injection on Friday morning. It's about time.


Terra said...

You reframed your position in a positive light, good idea. I hope the shot works as you two are hoping. That sounds tricky to coordinate health insurance when you live in two different states.

Olga said...

So much hinges on the perspective we choose. Sounds like a good balance in your relationship. said...

I can relate to this post so much. My husband is also the cook in the family because he is better at it than me. Although he will tell me that I am better at making one or two recipes. He is a stickler for organization and cleanliness and says that we (the rest of the family) only give the house a "spit and a shine" whereas he gives it a deep clean. I am the concierge mainly because I prefer the paperwork, computer, telephone calls, etc. B is hard of hearing so it works out better that I do it. I have always taught my sons that there is no such thing as "woman's work" and "man's work" and they will tell you that their parents are perfect examples of that.

Janette said...

Gosh, I hope the shot is a game changer and lesson learned.
My husband is a much better cook- but I make a mean soup!
Paperwork is mine and fixing the shower is his,
I think good marriages just work their way out :)

Madeline Hill said...

I am the cook in this house and it is a huge hobby for me.I am happy in the kitchen with some oldies on my Spotify account. Or jazz. I pray the day never comes when I have to rely on Ken for meals.He is not good in the kitchen,And we love good meals. Just about every night! I enjoy it, he does not. On the other hand,Ken is the incredible handyman and can fix almost ANYTHING in this house and yard.In fact right now he is in the garage building a special kitty scratching post for our 2 new kitties. He loves to be busy and work on “fixing” things. So it’s a nice balance.I know as we get older (67 now) we may have to take turns waiting on one another at times.. I just pray I can always cook!!!!!

Linda Reeder said...

I am the cook, he is the bottle washer. He is the vacuumer. I am the duster. We both do laundry. He has been my caretaker through surgeries, and I work to get as independent as possible as soon as I can. He still has to tie my shoes, but I put lotion on his back. We are a team.

Rian said...

It is interesting to hear how others handle house-hold chores. And I will say up front that I think you came up with a good solution to your little dilemma. You are the concierge!

At our house, I do most of the cooking... and enjoy it. Granted during this pandemic since we can't go out to eat on occasion and we don't do take-out, it sometimes gets a little old. But DH can cook... in fact he's very good at several dishes and doesn't mind doing it. He also vacuums, mops, takes out the garbage, mows the lawn, etc. We all do our own washing... and we clean up the kitchen after dinner together. Whereas my duties are basically cooking, dusting, sweeping, paying the bills, handling the finances, appointments, insurance, etc.... although he does the taxes. It works. When one is down, the other takes over.

Joared said...

The language we use to ourselves I’ve always believed is important in creating the quality of out lives which i wrote about again recently. You have reconfirmed it. My husband went through the cortisone shot regimen, the constant pain which eventually altered his personality, outlook on life and even interactions with me. Do hope all goes well for you and your husband gets relief.

Pippa said...

Art needs to check a procedure called "Mild". It's a relatively non invasive surgical treatment for spinal stenosis. It's done in the Dr's office, the incision is literally the size of a baby aspirin and little recovery time. Good luck.