…Resolutions, Money, and Someone’s Change of Gender
I have a couple of resolutions/goals this year.
The small one: At our house, whoever makes dinner also loads the dishwasher and does the dishes. The other person gets the night off. Apart from dinner dishes, we both use dishes throughout the day for breakfast, packed lunches and snacks. Before we got together, Rom lived in a household where everyone had different schedule, and everyone washed their own dishes. He still defaults to this. I tend to rinse my own dishes, leave them by the sink, and wash them when I get a sink full, every few days. This greatly offends Rom who feels I am leaving them for him to wash. I wouldn’t object to washing Rom’s incidental dishes, but he never leaves any for me. So my current resolution is to do my own dishes daily!
Either that or I will convince him to go with my method: he could add his dishes to my pile and we can take turns doing them all once a day. As long as I don’t leave them overnight, he would probably be OK with that!
The big one: I am going to create a housework schedule for me and Rom to follow. He says he will go along with whatever I decide – he must trust me to be fair?
We agree that meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning the kitchen after cooking, are all going fine and don’t need to be overhauled. Currently, I get home from work an hour before Rom, so I make more time-consuming meals and bigger batches, while he makes quicker meals on his nights, and makes our weekend lunches.
Rom does the laundry every weekend, which sounds good in theory, but in practice it means I do everything else: vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the bathrooms, washing floors, scooping the cat litter, cleaning windows and mirrors, reorganizing storage space, taking out the garbage and recycling, and so on. Not all of these are regular duties, but I keep track of when they need doing, and then do them. I also do the bill paying and I arrange for repairs and replacement items.
See also: Are You the Household Mastermind?
In the winter we share snow shovelling equally. I do the gardening and yard work in the summer because I really enjoy it, but then I need more of a break from the indoor tasks, so that will be part of the new plan.
With only two of us and two cats, it’s not a high-maintenance household, but I believe we’ll both be happier with lists to accomplish each week. We both like checking things off lists!
January began with a budget overhaul. I have shifted my master plan over several years. Once upon a time, I paid big annual bills as they came up, which caused massive cashflow problems!
My next strategy was to divide up the annual bills and save for them monthly. For example, my home insurance is due in October, so I divided it by 10 and saved for it between January and October. I could have divided all my annual bills by 12.
For 2018, I am going to go the full YNAB route. I posted about You Need a Budget here. Even though I don’t use their app, I have adopted their method of saving enough money so I’m not living paycheque to paycheque. I will use savings to pay all my big annual bills in full this year. This strategy only works if one has a cash reserve. I accomplished this by not contributing to my own long-term savings in 2017 and saving the same amount for annual bills instead. Not ideal but it makes my life much easier. I find the trade-off acceptable. I will save enough throughout the year (by not paying the annual bills from my salary) to pay for next year’s. It is likely I’ll never make up the hit to my long-term savings unless I make unprecedented lifestyle changes.
2018 should be a typical year for expenses since we are living the same and doing the same, except for this month’s travel, and price increases.
Change of Gender
Our 24-year-old, Link, was recently approved for gender-confirming surgery through their provincial health plan (i.e., free). Link identifies as genderqueer and transmasculine, so they wanted their body to look more masculine, and they applied for “top surgery.” This is a double mastectomy and chest reconstruction. Link has wanted this for 8 years and has been on formal waiting lists for about 3 years. The application process keeps improving. You no longer have to say, “I am a man trapped in a woman’s body!” It is OK to be non-binary. Applicants don’t have to take hormones or prove that they live day-to-day as the “other” gender. However, applicants still need a physical, a psychiatric evaluation, and reference letters from one’s own doctor and a WPATH-approved specialist. It is tricky. You must be unwell enough to receive a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, but well-functioning enough to not receive a diagnosis of significant mental illness. If you do have mental or physical health conditions, they must be treated and well-managed before surgery is approved.
Link delayed the surgery for 3 months so they could pass the probationary period at their new job before taking an unpaid medical leave. Despite living in Toronto, Link was sent to a clinic in Montreal for the procedure. Some of the Toronto physicians are not fully approved by the provincial health system, and therefore if you go to them, you incur a lot of uncovered costs.
I accompanied Link to the surgery and helped out during recovery for a couple of weeks. It was nice just being a parent to a 20-something, being helpful, and having no expectations of what Link should be doing, other than relaxing. Besides the surgery itself, I went along to the follow-up medical appointments, acted as a medical resource and advocate, took care of groceries and meals and cleaning (a theme this month!) and we just spent time together. We watched the popular anime series Yuri!!! on Ice, I learned all about Fire Emblem, saw all Link’s Tumblrs, assembled new IKEA furniture, walked to Starbucks every other day, and ate a lot of red bean buns. I read 5 books and (gasp!) worked on a couple of little cross-stitch kits.
Link has a small apartment with one bed, and as a “patient,” they very much needed the bed. I was not up for sleeping on an air mattress, so I stayed nearby at an Airbnb. It was a gorgeous room, equivalent to a luxury hotel, and it even included a robe, slippers and complimentary breakfast! It was a breath of fresh air to return there at night, and it gave us some space and privacy. Toward the end of my stay, I bought a few day passes to a local gym and got some workouts in, which made me feel a lot better.
Another thing I liked about the trip was staying in Link’s Toronto neighbourhood, more like a resident than a tourist, just taking the bus and doing errands and living regular life.
Meanwhile, Rom was on his own, looking after the house and cats for 17 nights! It was our first time apart in 7 years, and it made me feel oddly out of time and place. Upon my return, I think we have a redoubled appreciation for our everyday lifestyle, habits and companionship. Now to get the housework duties sorted, haha! (Rom had a long preview while I was away, and did a lot of solo snow shovelling).
I have another post planned with more details about Link’s gender surgery and what it was like from a parent or caregiver point of view. It is intended for other parents or partners (since my blog is indexed and searchable) so you can read it or not, as your interest lies.
Meanwhile I would love to know if you have launched any resolutions, a new budget, or a new gender identity! 🙂