Friday, January 1, 2010

No Gender Biases Here

I have spent the last few days trying to figure out the myriad electronic appliances we received over the holidays. Between Christmas and Mark's birthday (December 26) I have been knee-deep in USB cables, Wii remotes, Powermats, Bamboo tablets and new-fangled iPods. Trying to figure out how all of this technology works can be frustrating, to say the least, but I have managed to get everything set up, connected and working properly. Whew.

When it comes to installing, configuring, monitoring or updating anything electronic, wired or related in any way to a computer I'm your (wo) man. Whatever is not intuitive enough to figure out on my own I will find in the instruction manuals. I am not the most technical person you know by far, but I really enjoy learning about new technologies and the latest gizmos on the market. On the other hand, Mark calls me to his computer to help send email attachments, so chances of him doing something like backing up his own computer are pretty slim. It's just easier if I do it myself. I finally signed us both up for the Mozy online backup system because we have had too many hardware malfunctions and too many lost files. Now our computers back up everyday and I don't have to be anywhere near the darn thing.

Mark doesn't know, or care, about wireless routers or registry errors so I am summoned whenever a cable comes unplugged or an ominous message appears. It's better that way since we have had many virus infestations from seemingly harmless clicks. I took a chance and bought Mark an iPod for his birthday but he has no idea what to do with it. Because he is an iPod newbie I load his iTunes songs, subscribe to his Podcasts and sync the iPod (but syncing is a piece of cake with the new Powermat). I am blown away by the Nano 5th generation capabilities. I was excitedly telling Mark about all of the cool things he can do like listen to FM radio, shoot video and record voice memos. He wasn't as impressed as me, but give it time. I wasn't too sure about my iPod when I got it 2 years ago and I can't imagine now ever living without it. I sadly realized, however, that my 3rd generation Nano is completely outdated. I know what I will be asking for next year.

For all of the tasks Mark doesn't like to do there just as many he can do better than me. He can sew buttons, fix holes in sweaters and apply knee patches to the boys' jeans. If Nicholas or Christopher needs anything sewn they ask dad. Christopher had a stuffed animal whose seam was coming apart on its tummy. Mark sewed it up perfectly, gave it back to Christopher, and told him his kitty got some "stitches." Christopher was thrilled. Mark can also iron a shirt better than I can with his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back. And, when it comes to making Christmas cookies to distribute to teachers and neighbors you will find Mark and the boys merrily mixing gingerbread men and formulating frosting from scratch. Every year they try to perfect a new cookie concoction. They take over the kitchen and I am no where to be found.

It's ironic how society tends to assign gender biases to particular tasks. Usually, we assume the man takes care of electronics and the woman bakes the cookies. But we don't live by any gender biases in this house and I believe the boys will benefit greatly because of it. They are learning at a very early age that dads can sew and moms can read technical manuals. They are also learning about give and take. It's not that Mark isn't capable of installing software or that I'm not capable of baking. Mark just doesn't like technology and I can do without assembling and wrapping dozens of cookies . We appreciate our strengths and weaknesses are and we accommodate them.

Nicholas and Christopher are also learning that everyone chips in to help around the house. Mark does laundry when I need some help and I shovel snow when he's too busy at work. He makes breakfast on the weekends and I take the trash out when he isn't able. I have been told on numerous occasions how lucky I am to have a husband who does as much as he does around the house. I know I'm lucky. I realize my good fortune every single day.

But there are some tasks we just don't mess around with. I have never, ever mowed a blade of grass for fear that I run the diagonal lines the wrong way. That is Mark's domain. The men in our neighborhood are pretty serious about their lawns. And, I have the family schedule under control. If an activity is not listed on the calendar, it doesn't exist. Please don't mess around with my calendar.

After all, if you want some things done right you are better off doing it yourself.



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