It used to be that when I’d hear the soft beep of my husband’s PlayStation, I’d involuntarily let out an “ugh.” But as we approach our fifth month of quarantine, any happening that indicates relaxation or indulgence is a relief.
You see, my husband and I have 16-hour days. The relay race begins at 8am for sprints of childcare, conference calls, work, cooking, cleaning, and miscellaneous chores. Free time after our son’s bedtime starts around 7:30pm, but it usually gets allocated to work that didn’t get done throughout the day.
This may sound like it’s going in the direction of either a rant or a “slay the day” aphorism. It isn’t.
When you are indefinitely stuck at home with only one* other person, you’re confronted with the totality of their personality — and yours. You become hyper aware of the way he sticks out his tongue when concentrating on even the most minute tasks. But you also find yourself growing weary of your obnoxious recurring jokes about said stupid tongue. The realities of your quirks set in and if you’re lucky, you’ll see all the good things about your partner in a new light.
In this time of coronavirus, where we are truly working as a team to get each other through our days, I find myself more grateful than ever that I married the man I married.
The man I married has infinite patience for our toddler, scoops a perfect scoop of ice cream, and never fails to give me the benefit of the doubt, like when one of my work calls run overtime and I’m not able to tag out with childcare at the time I’m meant to.
In his subtle (and less subtle) acts of kindness towards me, I find myself wanting to give back more in my own ways — like putting more thought into cooking his favorite foods, or beating him to the kitchen sink to clear the day’s dishes. In this cycle of gratitude and giving, I’m happier and overall, more energized.
Granted, not every day is so balanced. Some days I’m putting more hours into the work day than he is, or I’m doing more chores in the evening than he is. And vice versa. It’s at the point where whoever is less tired at the end of the day finishes up the chores. But we haven’t argued about who should do them. On the contrary, any brusqueness manifests in a quick, “No, I’ll do that. You go do whatever.”
It’s not strange that a pandemic forced upon us a new level of multi-tasking. But it’s strange that in a pandemic, where we find ourselves with far less free time than before, with no help outside our bubble of three, that there’s no room for resentment for one another. There’s no time and no emotional bandwidth to count who did how many laundry loads during the past week, or to notice why the other was somehow able to finish reading a book. There is only the presence of our support for one another.
*I am aware that my toddler is also a person, but for the purposes of this sentence, let’s ignore that.