Friday, February 8, 2008

Wife Rule #10: Some Things are Definitely Woman's Work

We're not getting all sexist here, don't worry. I try to do the dishes at least as much as my fabulous wife. But there are just certain tasks that Man's brain was not meant to comprehend, such as having fun while shopping, and these are Woman's Work.

One of the most daunting tasks my wife occasionally lays at my feet is to dress our four children. I more or less understand what to put on our two boys and where to put it, but the girls are a completely different story. I might have mentioned this before, but women are a mystery. Even a little, cute, pint-sized woman like my six-year-old or eight-year-old daughter can be very mysterious. And among all the elements of the Great Female Mystery, there is one which is most incomprehensible of all: the "outfit."

Now, I know what you're thinking: What's so mysterious about buying fishing gear or ammo at an outfitter? But that's where you're wrong. I'm not talking about any run-of-the-mill mess of hunting supplies, or welding accessories, or anything simple like that. I'm talking about a real live, bona-fide, female outfit. The kind that involves color coordination and special shoes and picking one certain hair ribbon out of a drawer of approximately 25,000 hair ribbons in the bathroom. That kind of outfit.

See, with boys, an outfit is basically any pair of pants, coupled with any shirt, with socks and shoes somewhat optional. Actually, the shirt is sometimes optional too. But not so with a girly outfit. Nothing is optional, as far as I can tell. There are bows to be tied, barrettes to install, ribbons to place, sometimes even little frills on socks that mean you have to pay attention to whether the sock is inside out or not when you put it on.

But I digress--the accessories to an outfit are the least of my worries. For most outfits--anything involving a separate shirt and pants or a skirt--the task of marrying the correct top with the correct bottom is nearly hopeless. The trouble is that the Law of Outfits defies reason. For example, a white-ish shirt should clearly match a white-ish skirt. I don't understand why it should matter that they're both white, or not the same color of white (something else invented by females, might I add), or whether one has bright red accents and the other has bright magenta accents. In my mind, they all fit in the "white-ish bucket" of color, and thus they match.

Not so, according to my wife. Clearly the white top with magenta accents matches the teal skirt with puce and plum accents, which clearly matches the special sage tights with fluorescent glow-in-the-dark accents, which obviously matches the gobbledygook shoes, and blah blah blah I wonder if the lawn needs mowing blah blah blah...

So we have an agreement. I can (usually) ensure that clothes are properly oriented on our children, with appendages in the correct holes and tags in the right locations, provided that my wife or one of my daughters has already accomplished the Womanly Task of coordinating the outfit in the first place. So one of them will pick out the clothes, and then I can help get them dressed. At least that's the way it used to be. My daughters are old enough that they really don't need my help anymore. But we have another baby girl coming, so I will soon be relying heavily again on outfitting help, just like the dozens of other amazing, incomprehensible aspects of Woman's Work that my wife accomplishes with such ease. If I understood them, I would tell you what they are. But regardless, I must say "Thank You" to my wonderful wife, who does Work that Women do, so very, very well.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I especially appreciate this insight into the workings of a man's brain. You see, I thought it was just my husband who could not manage to properly dress my 3-year-old and 1-year-old daughters. Now I realize that it's not him, it's men in general. Thank you. You've saved us from many disagreements in the future!