Mr. Mom to the Rescue

Photo courtesy of Vivi Loob / Flickr

My mother’s recent double knee replacement surgery has created a power vacuum at my parents’ house. My mom hasn’t stopped moving for five decades because she was in a constant state of raising three children and meticulously tending to household chores and bill-paying. She has become the patron saint of stay-at-home mothers.

She was once the ruler of the roost for this reason, but her recent sidelining has relegated her to the lowest station of all. She has been couch-ridden for some time now due to her medical malady. Because of this, the space-time continuum has somehow been ripped and the very fabric of society has been torn about.

Emerging from this void is my stoic father. He is holding a vacuum cleaner, cleaning up cat vomit and making supper — all at the same time.

Since my mother’s surgery, my father has been all but forced to fill in for her in every conceivable way. He has become the washer of clothes, the maker of suppers and the cleaner of rooms.

He has become Mr. Mom.

The other day when I stopped to visit them I half expected my father to be wearing an apron with a feather duster in his hands, or maybe working on a quilt while watching his programs. Instead, he was making dinner as my mother barked out ingredients and directions like a short order cook from the davenport.

My mother seems pretty impressed with Mr. Mom’s emergence, but reacts with surprise when my father performs a chore of some kind, like taking out the cat litter or feeding every stray cat within a three-mile radius. She doesn’t understand why my dad has been so accommodating. I think it’s because he loves her, which is why he decided to raise three children with her, but what do I know, right?

My mom had false illusions about her recovery. She thought she would be up and walking around in a matter of no time. We all had to inform her she wasn’t Wiley E. Coyote and most humans can’t withstand having bones cut out of them without a little bed rest.

I can’t blame her. She probably feels like someone has cut the legs out from underneath her.

She even voiced her displeasure with her doctor.

“Why does it hurt so badly?” she moaned.

“I have three words for you,” the doctor replied. “Hammer. Chisel. Saw.”

The doctor gave her a handful of prescription painkillers just to get her to shut up about it. That’s just what the world needs more of — my mother all hopped up on funny pills and plowing through the house in her wheelchair.

My mother had never used a wheelchair before, which was pathetic to watch her do because she kept bumping into everything. That wouldn’t be so bad except she collects antique vases and owns a half-dozen or so cats.

Once she graduated from the wheelchair, she moved on to a walker (complete with complimentary tennis balls) before progressing to a cane. It seemed like she was turning into Wilfred Brimley right in front of my eyes.

Now she is able to get around on her own without a device typically associated with the elderly. However, I am beginning to think my mother is milking her recovery for all that it is worth. I think she has grown accustom to Mr. Mom changing the cat litter, folding the laundry and yelling at my little brother about how dirty his room is. I can tell just from the look in her eyes.

To be honest, I think my dad can tell, too. Mr. Mom doesn’t seem to mind.

This whole ordeal has made me face one wicked realization. My parents are getting old, like, really old. It is hard to watch your mom going around in circles in a wheelchair or your dad trying to make a pot roast and not think that.

Or maybe that’s just my knee-jerk reaction.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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