grumpy about the handymom

Last night after the kids went to sleep, Anthony and I noticed that we were both feeling extra cold. It’s not outside the norm to feel this way in a drafty old house as the weather turns back to frigid. So we snuggled under a thick blanket to finish off our Legend of Korra Season 3 marathon (wow, what a finale!), and we ignored the coldness except for a nagging feeling that maybe we’re getting sick again.

In the wee hours of early morning, I woke drowsily and felt sort of chilly. Nick and I snuggled up close under the covers to stay warm and went back to sleep. Totally normal in the morning after the heater has been turned low all night.

In case you’re a new friend in my life, let’s make sure we’ve got names and actors straight. I don’t bed down with two men. Anthony is my husband, an adult male with whom I’ve created two spawn. Nick is my five-year-old male spawn. Co-sleeping rules govern our home, so I normally wake to the sight of a tiny little boy’s sweet face near mine.

But this morning, I startled awake to something else. An absolutely enormous human face was just a few inches from mine, staring down at me. GAH!!

Oh. It was just Anthony, standing over the bed and speaking softly. “Carla. Something’s wrong with the heater. It won’t turn on.”

He gave me a few seconds to exit my sleep stupor and then continued. “The thermostat looks funny.”


I knew what was expected of me. As I trotted sleepily downstairs, Anthony added that the thermostat would turn on the fan, but not the heater. He followed me and helpfully demonstrated, turning the fan switch on and off a couple times. Nick had woken up by now and was upset by my sudden departure, so Anthony headed back upstairs to comfort him.

This was easy. Find small screwdriver. Take thermostat off wall. Change batteries. It was slightly complicated by the fact that we used our entire lifetime supply of 400 double-A’s to fill a variety of children’s toys for Christmas day. Anthony  retrieved three of the 82 batteries required to operate a 6-inch-long remote-control helicopter and I shoved them into the thermostat. All fixed.

Why, you might ask, did Anthony have to wake me up instead of just fixing the thermostat himself? Because I’m the resident handymom. I grumbled at Anthony about this very issue after I solved the crisis. His answer was succinct. “I saw screws. If there’s a screwdriver involved, you have to do it.”

This is why he’s a tenured college professor.

Most of the 15-odd minutes I spent working out the thermostat thing, Nick was mewling and whining. Those noises ramped up after Anthony headed out to walk Madeline (the dog). She had come down the stairs and was whining at me while I tried to re-program the thermostat, so I yelled up at Anthony to get out of bed and walk the dog, because dammit I’m not the hired handyman AND dog walker! It seemed worth a yell. Nothing would have made me more grumpy that the trifecta: (1) me, fixing thermostat in 53-degree living room; (2) all other human residents snuggling warmly in beds; (3) dumb dog peeing and pooping on rug in my plain view.

There were even tears from Nick as the repair-and-reprogram episode went down. But all was quiet by the time I finished. I went upstairs and found Jesse snuggling in bed with Nick. They were blissful. Jesse explained.

“I heard Nick crying so I said, ‘I’ll snuggle with you.’ He said, ‘no I want mommy!’ So I said, ‘you can pretend I’m mommy.'”

Now Jesse broke into an impersonation of me, using a sing-song, cheerful falsetto. “Come here, Nick, Come here! We can snuggle, but remember that if you poke me with your feet I will scream at you!”

It was just right. Nick snuggled right up to Jesse and was happy, as the now-operational heater warmed the house up.