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A LITTLE MOTHERING CAN GO A LONG WAY

The other day, I heard a feminist quoted as saying, "We (women) have now become the men we wanted the men to become."

I suppose that explains the goofy cartoons and sitcoms that make all husbands and fathers and anyone else male look like idiots and sexist womanizers who lack leadership and fathering skills.

However, I have to admit it's not unusual to find that when men are somewhere between puberty and middle age, someone confides in us that some of our older female relatives really didn't think we'd make it as husbands. If we do, they give all of the credit to our wives and opine that this proves something. My mother confided to Sally's aunt that she didn't know how Sally put up with me.

Of course, mothers always look at their sons, regardless of age, as "their little boys." And more often than we care to admit, there's a reason for that. We still expect someone to pick up the clothes we took off last night and left beside the bed. It's possible to count the days since Sunday by the number of socks on the floor and the number of garments on top of the suit we wore on Sunday. Toothbrushes never go in the holder, but always stay on the bathroom sink.

And, of course, mothers react accordingly, which sometimes causes touchy situations with wives.

One young wife told me that she dreads going home to her husband's family because his mother still cuts his meat and makes sure he has on a scarf and boots.

"I'm getting tired of mothering him," the wife said with a tone that denoted some changes in the agenda.

As for me, cooking with Sally called for some changes from what I learned from my mother. Mother said close was good enough. You know when you have the correct measure of flour or sugar or vanilla when it "looks" right. Sally, on the other hand, scrapes the ingredients into a second bowl to make sure she has exactly the right measurements and follows the recipe to the letter.

When my cooking efforts don't exactly work, Sally has learned to smile sadly, sigh and wipe up after me. Does that mean I'm being mothered?

Mothering seems to mean taking responsibility for planning, decision-making, financial accountability and role-modeling in a household. All those things sound great, and I really plan on doing them someday.

My mother made me into what I was, and my wife has made some adjustments to make me what I am. And Sally and I are relatively happy with the outcome. I'd rather do the dishes than use the dishwasher, I'd rather mop the kitchen than scrub it on my knees and I'd rather do the outside of the windows before the inside. Other than that, we pretty much agree on the important stuff.

Sally bought me an organizer, but then took over because I kept losing it. When we get to our 50th anniversary, I'm going to put my foot down and promise to take over.

Then I'll show everybody what a good husband I really am. My mother thought I was going to bomb completely as a husband. I think Sally's done a pretty good job with what she's had to work with.

DON BOOTH lives in East Aurora.

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