I just spent an hour re-learning chemistry. Now I have to spend more time figuring out how to teach it to children without confusing them. Miss Girl Scout leader is really gonna be the one to introduce these girls to protons, neutrons, and electrons? Really? Me? Wait, maybe they already know. Let me go ask my 3rd grader children. Nope. Haven’t learned about it in school yet. They know what static electricity is, but not the science behind it. They don’t know the “why,” and they don’t know what the word “density” is, but they know that certain objects sink while others float. So, now I must make a list of science experiments and list the items required for each. Then, I have to go to the fucking store and buy shit. Oh, and then create documents that explain the science. Then print that shit. Spend time thinking about if I should print it or email it, knowing the moms will never print the material at home for their kids—I know I wouldn’t. Maybe I only print it for myself, to help me remember all that I need to teach them. Still, it requires my culling the information and sorting it into a lesson plan. Do parents realize all that goes into being a Girl Scout leader? This isn’t my job. I’m not paid to do this. I don’t even get free stuff.
In my marriage, we fight over the division of labor. Who does what. And here’s what I’ve learned: everyone feels undervalued. We each feel like we do the lion’s share of work, and what’s worse, we rarely feel that our efforts are appreciated or even noticed. The parents of our Girl Scout troop do thank me for all that I do. The majority of them thank me repeatedly. Just as I constantly thank Phil whenever he cooks, takes out the garbage, empties the dishwasher. I thank him. I’m realizing that it’s not enough to thank someone. Because what I want the moms of my troop to do most is to take some bloat out of my to-do list. To say, “You always run each meeting. Why don’t I step up and come up with a meeting idea this week? I’ll run a meeting, gather all the supplies, and think of every last detail. You just show up and help, but I’ll do all the delegating and planning.” They’re not mind-readers, so I’d need to ask for volunteers who are willing to do this. It’s the same in marriage.
I can walk up to Phil and say, “I really appreciate all that you do, and I want to show you just how much by taking a bit of the burden off of you. So this week, I don’t want you to even think about XXX.” Why don’t I say this to him? Because I fear he’ll just take it as an opportunity to unload on me. He’ll see it as a conversation starter, a chance to “not know where to start, given all that I do.” The flood gates will open. Why would I ever ask for that? Instead, wouldn’t it be better if I Nike campaigned my way through it? Don’t talk about doing it. Just do it. I’ll tell you why. Because if I just do it, he’ll recognize it and say, “Thank you.” And that’s it. There will be no, “Wow, thank you. I can’t tell you how nice it is not to have to xxxx.” He won’t feel any big sigh of relief, and if anything I’ll feel more resentful because I’ll be doing everything I normally do, plus the unexpected extra, and I’ll be exhausted. But rather than guess at how he’ll react with my “intuitive knowing,” I’ll just do it and see if it will become a wildfire idea that catches from this single spark.