I was married the evening of Saturday, July 25, 1992, I was banned by my husband from doing the laundry August 8 of that same year. Banned is a strong word, really I was encouraged to find another household chore to complete. I wasn’t really banned officially until June of 2000.
Our first child had been born after a six week hospital stay on my part. Anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong with my first pregnancy, so hospital bed rest was mandatory. When I say bed rest I mean, I could not go to the bathroom without a nurse by my side. When Duke was finally born through an emergency C-section, still five weeks early, he wasn’t breathing. I was blissfully unaware of how close my son came to dying, but Peter witnessed the whole ordeal. Because of said C-Section, I could not get up and I could not hold my baby or even see my son for over twenty-four hours. Duke went straight to the NICU and Peter quickly followed. I mention the fragility of my first born to set the stage as to why exactly I was banned from the laundry duty.
It was a balmy day in downtown Portland and Peter had come home from work, anxious to hold his boy and I was just as anxious to give him up. As usually Peter nuzzled his nose to Duke’s tummy and made him laugh but this time something was different. Peter pulled Duke away from his face and looked at me quizzically.
The following conversation is exactly what transpired and illustrates why I loved this man so much.
Peter: Did you wash Duke’s clothes today?
Me: Yeah, he spit up a lot so I did a load or two.
Peter: I smell Tide though
Me: Yeah, we ran out of Dreft. He spit up A LOT today, babe.
Peter: Why didn’t you call me? I could have picked some up on my way home (This is at a time when cell phones where $1000 and only drug dealers had then, so a call would have required calling the school office).
Me: I don’t know, I didn’t really think about it. I just needed Duke to have some clean clothes.
Peter: Babe, but this is Tide, Duke is still too young to have such harsh cleansers against his delicate skin.
Me: Oh well he seems fine, I don’t think he is having any adverse effects.
At this point in our conversation I am smiling at my husband’s nervousness about laundry and our first born. In my defense, I am really trying to take him seriously but his neurotic need for Dreft is making me giggle.
Peter: Well, did you give him a bath today?
Me: Yes, and I used baby shampoo and everything. (OK, I was mocking him a bit)
In actuality I had given Duke about four baths that day because he spit up so much but I could not dare tell my husband that information, that would have put him on the rooftop with a semi-automatic in his hand and a scope next to his eye.
Peter: Well babe, I appreciate all of your hard work with Duke but I think I should take over the laundry duty. Just for now, until he gets old enough for Tide.
Me: So you’re firing me from the laundry? Is that what I am hearing?
Peter: Babe, firing is such a harsh word.
Me: Ummm, well I respect your decision.
I walk into our bedroom and let Peter and Duke have their man time, I also leave the room because I can no longer contain my laughter and I have always believed that laughing directly in your husband’s face is rude.
I can’t believe my luck, I hate laundry and now I have been fired from doing it. Eventually once Duke begins to eat real food and is able to establish a human palette, I get fired from making dinner as well, his reason being, “Duke needs to know what bacon tastes like when it’s not burnt”. (In my defense I like bacon crisp) I get fired from several other household jobs that most stay at home mommies can accomplish but that was Peter, he was attentive and caring and concerned with being a responsible parent. He was also funny as fuck on purpose and most times no so on purpose.
As I lie in our bedroom that day, trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I was fired and really trying not to make my giggles audible, I am beckoned from the living room.
“Babe, did you sanitize ALL of Duke’s pacifiers?”