For the last several years, I’ve lived in a house with my son, my daughter and a small French bulldog. Girls outnumbered boys 3:1. In re-partnering, I’ve added four guys and two male pets to the household. Boys outnumber girls 7:3.
I thought I’d be good with the shift to a male-oriented household. I’ve always worked in male-dominated industries and have never loved girls’ night out or head-to-toe pink. Like my son, I looked forward to the change.
As it turns out, I’m quite a girly girl, after all.
I only knew the boy world in theory. I had no brothers and my role models growing up were my formidable aunts. (Oh, does the smell of perfume, cigarette smoke, and mink ever take me back: I wish Cire Trudon would put that combination in a candle.) The only time I glimpsed boy world was with the arrival of the Brooks Brothers catalogue.
I imagined my new blended family would be a world of tennis sweaters and chinos and people dashing off to play some sort of sport.
I had no idea this meant our garage would be filled with giant hockey bags and stuff to tape back your ears.
I suspected my quasi-vegetarian diet might be tested, but nothing prepared me for the amount of meat consumed. I should have known: When we were courting, I was once served a hotdog, wrapped up in a hamburger, served in a giant bun.
And the milk! Holy mother of everything; do boys drink a lot of milk. With what I’ve saved from switching from organic to bargain brand milk, I could buy myself a Cartier bracelet. Only that money has been earmarked for buying loaves of bread. I once made the mistake of serving a chicken caesar salad for dinner: “Where’s the food?” I was asked.
And the noise! I knew my son was a human foghorn. I never knew that trait was gender-based.
I now understand why Virginia Woolf believed “a woman must have … a room of her own….” I’ve converted our formal dining room into a parlour and have made it as feminine as possible, with bold chintz upholstery and wall-to-wall ginger jars. Just for good measure, I bought an eight-foot tall solid mahogany door.
This is where I write and read and get away from the chaos. My daughter and I sometimes hide out and watch Survivor, which seems terribly appropriate some days.
After a month of blending, I’m slowly getting used to boy world. Boys are straightforward in a way girls are not, which can be refreshing. Plus, they can lift stuff: that mahogany door was not going to get into the house on its own. I am learning to appreciate their world, and they are learning to appreciate mine. I have learned the finer points of pro basketball. They’ve learned that flowers are a need, not a want. Time, patience, and continued conversation will smooth the transition.
In the meantime, there’s my parlour.