I just walked into my daughter’s old bedroom, a space that is struggling to shrug off the lipstick and fairy books of it’s past. I am trying to help. I have pulled off the paper, that had hidden horizontal stripes for years and swapped the bed for a chaise. I have filled the holes left by teddy laden shelves, washed the glue from the walls, put a first coat over the stripes and made a start on removing the blackboard paint. It all got a bit too hard. I had totally forgotten about the stripes and the blackboard paint will need more than hot water and soap. And so, the room sits, not sure what it will become, an office I promised it one day and set up a desk, an office, I promised then closed the door.
My husband does not care about the stripes and the blackboard paint. He likes the desk, where he can watch the birds go about their business on the bottle brush and he sits in the chaise when he is on a call. He uses a hard-back book on Birds by John A Burton, as a mouse pad. I find him there now. Sometimes he rushes out to greet me then like a sea anemone he rushes back in to answer his phone. Sometimes I walk in to be shushed and shooed away, today I walked in, wearing my new mustard leather ankle boots and PJ’s. He looked up and smiled. I gave him a lap, a miniature catwalk, he nodded and smiled and continued his work.
My husband does not see much. I am not sure if it is him or if it is a male thing. He does not see dust, that the bathroom needs cleaning, he sometimes cannot see that I am tired and upset.
I ask him now if he wants a cocktail. “Just a minute,” he answers, I can hear the light tapping on this keyboard as my boots and I leave unanswered.
just a minute
My husband does not notice much. I am not sure if it is him or evolution. He does not notice that we have run out of bread, that the washing machine has finished, and he sometimes does not notice that I feel angry and resentful.
“Ok, well I am having one”, I call back from the kitchen bench. “Yep, just wait” he calls. I use the tip of my toes to reach the Cointreau and pull it forward through the throng of spirits.
My husband does not care too much. I am not sure if it is him or he just does not care about the same things I do. He does not care that the sheets have been freshly laundered, that the fridge is full. He sometimes does not care that I need to be alone, to recapture myself.
I pour vodka over ice into the beaten silver cocktail shaker and measure out the orange liqueur. As I search for the limes I try again. “I’m making Cosmos.”
“Lovely.” Tap tap tap
He does not see that harsh words of logic can upset, that being right is not always important, that letting things go has a value. He cannot see that life lessons can be learnt by example, that compassion is not weakness and there is always a bigger battle in the war of child rearing. He does not notice that my daughter is choosing the person she wants to marry, that my son is choosing the kind of man he will be with every micro emotion the house shares. He does not care if the house is tidy, that the weeds have been banished or the laundry is done. I see these things. I notice these things. I care about these things.
I take the cold vibrant liquid, in a martini glass that is just not big enough and walk slowly into my daughter’s old room.
My husband looks up. Done he says. I’ll have it out there with you he says. We have the whole weekend together, he says. What do you want to do? he says. Write a list, I can do the shopping for you, he says. I can make dinner or we can have some hot chips he says. He is ever hopeful of having hot chips.
I see that he has worked so very hard this week, I notice that he is tired yet still makes an effort with the time we now have together. He sees that I am tired and do not want to cook. I know that if I asked he would do the washing, clear the weeds and clean the house. I know that he loves me and his children deeply and would, does give all for us. I know he cares about what is important in our lives and with a caveman tunnel vision he concentrates on this.
“Lovely,” he says as he sips his cocktail. “Happy wish,” he says as he lifts his glass to mine and trips over my new mustard boots. “Cheers,” I say.
My husband never sees anything.
He is man I am woman, it works.
New technologies have generated a growing pile of evidence that there are inherent differences in how men’s and women’s brains are wired and how they work.