Yesterday, I realized that living with my boyfriend is, in a lot of ways, like living with children.
You see, children need constant attention. You have to get used to putting aside whatever you're working on to fetch some item for them that resides on a high shelf, resigning yourself to never again have a peaceful moment in the shower, and to turning the heat down on the stove while you're cooking to inform the older child that attempting to smother his sister with a pillow will result in a very, very long time-out. Every task you attempt during their waking hours takes three times as long as it would were they not there, and forget about promising yourself you'll get things done after they do to sleep - after getting them ready for bed, reading stories and singing lullabies, you have just enough time to make a half-hearted attempt at cleaning up before you collapse, exhausted, onto the couch.
Now, my boyfriend, P, doesn't need me to collect things from high shelves for him (a rather good thing, considering my diminutive height). My showers are less than peaceful, but in a a much more pleasant way than a naked two year old demanding she have her hair washed, as well. My cooking is frequently interrupted, however. But this is what made me realize all this: at 5:30, just as I was leaving work and going to pick P up (ah, the joys of a one car household), he called me to say his sister had stopped by the office on her way home and, as she lives just a few blocks from us, would give him a ride home. So I went straight home, and by the time P got home an hour later, I'd made dinner completely, started a load of laundry, re-made the bed (P had attempted to do it that morning, but not to my liking), vacuumed, swept the kitchen floor, and was in the middle of slicing three pounds of strawberries when he walked in the door.
Had I picked him up, I might have been done making dinner in an hour. Maybe. We had summer stir-fry (veggies and rice only, eaten cold), and because I refuse to use frozen or canned vegetables, it means a lot of slicing, and standing over the stove to make sure nothing gets too mushy or seared. With P home, that would have taken at least 45 minutes - I know this because, though I love to make it, I don't very often just because it takes so long. It's not that I mind him interrupting me - it's usually requests for hugs, kisses, or more frequently, to come look at a battleship he found online (I'm sure this will be a post for another day) - it's just that I'd like to be able to get everything done quickly so I don't have to put things off for the weekend. Because come Saturday, he'll look at me and pout and ask if we can please just go to this baseball game, or that movie, or this hiking trail, and I'll stick to my original plan of mopping, laundry, and scrubbing the entire house with bleach for all of five minutes before I give in.
This is not to say that he doesn't attempt to help me with household chores, because he does. I am just hesitant to let him help. I'm aware that this will make me sound picky or even mean, but he just doesn't do things right, and by that I mean, he does them perfectly fine, but not the way I want. Take making the bed, for instance: P pulls the covers all the way down, puts the pillows against the headboard, and flings the covers back up over them. An acceptable way to make the bed, sure, but not to me. His method for putting away the things that have accumulated on the desk over the week involves making many piles all over the floor, leaving them there for an unspecified amount of time (could be hours, could be days, might be weeks if I let him get away with it) and the shuffling them all into one big pile and sticking it somewhere he hopes I won't see. And he wonders why he can never find anything. I do allow him to do the dishes, though it takes him far longer than it would take me, and I end up moving everything anyway, because he can't quite seem to figure out which pot goes in which cabinet.
Tonight, P is at a test site for work, so I have no messes to clean up, no beds to make, and no elaborate, healthy meals to cook. Instead, I get to open a can of diet cherry Coke, make some Kraft mac&cheese, and chill out to the Diamondbacks game ... but it just confirms that even though things take a little more time and effort when P is around, I'd much rather have him here.