Sunday, February 3, 2019

Jane: Being in Charge

The washing machine has been making a funny noise. It’s working fine, but when the water pumps out it sounds like an airplane taking off. That’s not how it usually sounds. I look around the machine when the noise escalates. I can’t see anything wrong. The water leaves, the cycle continues, the laundry comes out clean and spun. I ignore it.

Then I can’t any longer. I look in the manual, consult the troubleshooting page. No weird sounds listed. I call the company, talk to the very nice woman who answers the phone, and describe the problem. She very efficiently tells me how to make a further diagnosis — remove the front panel, check for loose belts, observe the inner workings when the noise happens, and call her back with more info.

I don’t do it.

Truth be told, I don’t want to do it. 

I know I can do it — I’ve watched Sky remove that front panel and make repairs to the machine based on what the lovely people at the company say. They’re very helpful. It’s a great machine. I can use tools of all kinds. It would just take me a few minutes.

But I don’t do it.

This kind of thing used to be Sky’s job. We had an equitable division of household chores over the years, pretty much divided along traditional male-female roles. He took care of the machinery — the washing machine, the lawn mower, the chain saw, the car. He did carpentry work, repaired things. Rewired lamps. Cleaned the chimney. Fixed the leaky sink. I took care of the household — the kitchen, the food, the cooking, the laundry, the money. Cleaned the bathroom. OK, he did the floors. I don’t like doing floors.

Now I have to do everything. Though Sky still does the floors, thank goodness.

He said he’s both sad and relieved to no longer be in charge. I’m sad and frustrated that I have to be in charge. Luckily, being in charge comes easily to me. But I still would rather not be doing it.

We have been equal partners all these years, each contributing to the welfare of the life we have chosen to live. We shared in house building, we shared in child raising, we shared in gardening and animal care. Now, it’s all on me.

I try and consider that our life now is still a partnership — that we are working together to deal with his dementia, that we are seeking solutions together to make this go as well as it can. When we deal with a problem — like installing a night light to help him find the bathroom more easily at night — it feels like a success, that we’re still in this life together.

And the washing machine? It’s still making that funny noise. Someday I’ll take that front panel off and look for problems. But.... not yet.


  1. Oh, Jane. Would Sky be able to help you look inside that front panel so that you could tackle it as partners? Would he recognize a loose belt?

    It’s ok to rail about it sometimes. You’ll do it when you’re ready.

    How can others help? I’ll pm you.

  2. Thank you for sharing this with us. Wow. So much.

  3. I say it's okay and permissible to whine. We all need to whine sometimes. This is a HUGE thing you guys are dealing with. I'm sending love and companionship.

  4. Changes in partnerships are difficult. You are honestly sharing and there is nothing wrong with that. You need to take of you during this time, whatever that is. You will deal with the washer when it is right for you. Remember there is always the repairman. Take care of you! Prayers for you tonight!