May 11, 2010
01:23 PM

Shake Things Up a Bit

Shake Things Up a Bit

Photo: Dmitry Ersler/istock

It was during our Mother’s Day outing yesterday—we ended up scrapping Iron Man 2 in favor of window shopping at Pier 1—when I made my confession. I wanted to shake things up a bit at home. I meant throw pillows, curtains, area rugs, getting rid of three-legged chairs with filthy arms. But I think it took my wife a good half-hour to get her pulse down below a hundred.

“Shake things up” can mean so much. I used to move the furniture whenever my wife left town for work. She said I did it so she’d stumble in the door, literally, as some sort of passive-aggressive retribution for being in charge of kids without reprieve. I looked on it as an antidote to cabin fever and the chance to try things out without editorial input.

In a marriage, “shake things up” can mean something as innocuous as new curtains or something as momentous as “let’s make a baby!” or “what do you think about moving to Chicago?” or “Honey, how do you feel about open relationships?” Shake, shake, shake, strangle.

I think it’s an effort to make things new again, fun, spontaneous, a beginning. Or maybe a midlife crisis, depending on the age of the people involved. We know two women who are just getting domestic together, and it is so sweet to see them taking that leap toward blending lives, furniture, friends, family. It makes me remember back when we were young and stupid and had no idea what we were doing but did it happily anyway.

We’re still stupid, but less happy about it than we were then.

I’m not sure there’s much more for us to shake up besides throw cushions and curtains, unless we want to uproot the family (creating chaos, anarchy and uncooperative kids for the rest of their childhoods): my wife has a motorcycle, I got my late life baby, we both have tattoos, and infidelity is hard to schedule in with three kids. I mean, I know people manage it everyday and fit in television, but I just don’t know where they get the energy.

And as my therapist reminds me, I’d have to “leave the house” for anything like that to happen. She’s trying to insert something into my schedule besides sleep, kidcare, writing, kidcare, dinner, chores, sleep. Possibly human contact outside the nuclear family circle and/or exercise. Maybe next year.

My wife did suggest shaking things up a bit in the backyard during our Pier 1 perusal. That it might be time to sawzall the play structure and put in a man-cave, complete with outdoor fireplace and comfortable seating, for those times you want to sit around flaming stuff with your guys friends (the guys in this case being female). I’m not actually sure why you’d want to do this. But that’s not the point. It sounds fun to the wife, and doesn’t involved divorce. That’s a good thing.    

The scary part of her plan is selling the idea to our 7 year old (no matter how little he uses the play structure) so he doesn’t take the sawzall to one of us. But based on his attraction to sitting around flaming stuff—he is a dude, after all—and that the play structure is thirteen years old and kind of shaky, it might not be all that hard to get him on board. 


Blogger Bio: Beren deMotier is a Carol Brady in Levis/tattooed lesbian mama in a mini-van, obsessed with safety, doing the right thing and the amount of dog hair on her wood floors. She is a regular contributor to both Curve and Black Lamb, and has written for Hip Mama, And Baby, Pride Parenting,, and for her blog, “That Lesbian Mom Next Door.” Her multi-award-winning book, The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage, recounts her giddy leap through a legal window, straight onto the barbeque pit of public debate when she and her partner married in Oregon in 2004, their three children along for the raucous ride. (

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