House spouse

Once upon a time, I envisioned a future where I would be the breadwinner in the family. I wanted to bring home the salt-reduced, gluten-free bacon and have my spouse fry it up. Obviously, I chose the wrong career for that fantasy. But lately, I confess I have enjoyed having a spouse to come home to.

Recent events and some hard choices have given the Carpenter an opportunity to take a temporary and very much needed sabbatical from work. This is good news. The man works entirely too hard and a break is due. As they say, when one door closes another window opens – or in my house we say, when one home renovation project is completed, another begins. Either way, I have a super-small window of opportunity to get some things done around the house and an idle Carpenter is a dangerous thing. You should see my to-do list.

It’s kind of a turn-on, after all these years of being the stay-at-home parent, to come home from work to find a hot guy making dinner. I could get used to this. The Carpenter assures me I should not.

I was thinking that after years of filling out forms where my occupation was listed as “homemaker” I would call the Carpenter my house spouse. It is a much more friendly term than house husband, which would be sexist, and goodness knows I don’t want any sexual stereotyping here (cough).

In a week at home, the Carpenter has proven what I already know: he’s the better parent. He is more fun. He is strict and enforces martial law with a good degree of compassion. He can burp louder, make body sounds I’m not even sure are natural, and help with math homework (which often happens while making gross noises).

And he can solve big world problems with common sense advice void of emotion or analytical processing. Life is pretty black and white for the Carpenter. He may also be the better house spouse. More than once I have come home from a workday to find meals prepared, laundry on the line, dishes done and floors washed. Who is this guy? I think the real kicker was the day the laundry was folded and sorted for each member of the household. That blew my mind. Had he done all this in a tool belt, this column would be x-rated.

But before you go throwing the man a parade for competency, let me assure you that he has yet to coordinate the fridge calendar, car-pool, sports fees, fill in every school permission slip and remember every single family member’s birthday, anniversary and subsequent dietary needs while ensuring the cheque book is balanced, bills are paid on time and dentist appointments are confirmed, before we start planning summer camp registrations. For that, he still needs me. Every carpenter needs a labourer, and I’m the girl. It’s not a sexy title, but since I’ve endured labour twice, I will wear that one proudly. I don’t get a tool belt though.

Marriage is about teamwork and taking risks together. As the Carpenter embarks on a new adventure we will make the most of his time off before the next adventure begins. So for the short time I have him home, the to-do list will grow, as will his resistance. Let the games begin.


Kelly Waterhouse