At a recent party, I sat chatting with someone I only see a couple of times a year. Our conversation turned to the craziness of her schedule due to some new responsibilities she has acquired. She said that, for the first time, she was really experiencing the difficulty of living alone. Knowing that I have lived by myself for years, she asked, “You get it, don’t you?”
“Sometimes, you just want someone else to do the laundry.” Imagine me saying that emphatically, maybe with the addition of some profanity that I have edited out for those who might be offended. We proceeded to talk about how we often eat terrible food because we don’t want to cook after working all day. Eventually, the conversation turned to the fact that married people don’t seem to understand this or maybe just don’t think of it.
Now that the married people reading this are ready to either start writing angry comments or stop reading altogether, I will state that I know marriage has plenty of challenges of its own. I know that those challenges are magnified when children are added to the mix. I will state that, yes, I completely, unequivocally understand this. I will also say, that like my fellow party guest, I often wonder if married people really ever think about the challenges of being single.
Which is actually hysterical when you think about it. I’ve never been married, but every married person was single at some point in time. Some of them even spent time living by themselves. They must remember what it felt like to not have anyone with whom to divide the work. They must remember that, once upon a time, there wasn’t someone with whom to split the duties of grocery shopping, cleaning, and lawn care. They must remember that, don’t they?
Of course, I know that my frustration and annoyance about this are probably just as much about my own issues as anything else. It’s probably about the internal battle I’ve been having for the past two weeks, knowing that I should unpack boxes in my basement but wanting to spend my break doing things that are actually fun. It’s probably about the guilt I feel about my complete inability to keep my house clean when I know my mother did it with five little kids and a husband that traveled all the time. And yet…
So, the next time one of my married friends complains about a spouse’s reluctance to do something or the difficulty of balancing kids’ schedules, I promise to do my best to understand. In return, I just ask that my friend remember that the next time I end up with stomach flu, I will have to make the choice between driving to the store for Sprite myself or deciding on which friend to impose. Remembering those things is the least we can do for each other, right?