Stay-at-Home Nerd: SaHN Packs It In
a blogumn by Josh Pullin
All successful relationships require a clear division of labor. One of the more interesting questions surrounding this NBA off-season is where King James will land. Will the bright lights of New York lure him, will he cash in his rubles and suit up for the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, will he continue his legacy of post-season mediocrity in Cleveland or will he surprise everyone and end up in LA, Miami, or Chicago? It doesn’t really matter where he ends up. The bigger question is whom he will partner with to win his first championship?
Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen. Shaq had Kobe. Kobe has Pau Gasol. Even the Spurs had Duncan and Robinson before they had Duncan and Ginobli. Go back further and you get Magic partnered with Kareem and Bird with McHale. I have no doubt that LeBron will end up with a top tier teammate, albeit one who hopefully doesn’t sleep with his mother. However, no matter whom he ends up with he will undoubtedly run smack dab into the “division of labor” problem.
Let’s take Shaq and Kobe. Shaq at the top of his game won 3 championships with Kobe. Kobe, in turn, became the player he is today (arguably the best player in the game) and won 2 more rings of his own. Why is this important? It means that someone is the deciding factor on a championship team. At first the ball, and the NBA title, went through Shaq. Now it goes through Kobe. Kobe can win the game on his own, or defer to his teammates. It’s his game to win or lose and that’s why he’s mentioned amongst the greatest players of all time.
I know what you’re thinking. LeBron runs his own show already. Many people think he is the greatest player of all time. You’re correct. He does, they do, and that’s the problem. Too often we’ve seen LeBron take a bad shot or make a bad pass at the end of a crucial playoff game. Despite his unbelievable athleticism and regular season achievements he has yet to win the big one. And, that’s what champions do. Rather than bash LeBron, though, I simply wonder whom he will partner with to win his ring. And, depending on who he partners with, will he become the successor to Magic, Michael, and Kobe that everyone expects him to, or will he simply be the highest paid Scottie Pippen in the history of the NBA?
I only point this out because marriage also requires a clear division of labor. The reason I write this column is because I’m a stay-at-home dad and as such I have unique responsibilities in my marriage. People have asked if I cook and clean. I do. I also ate food, ran a dishwasher, and wore clean clothes before I got married, but thanks for asking. That said, I understand how the lines of labor can and do blur. No longer do we live in the clear-cut lines of Mad Men fame. What red blooded American boy wouldn’t trade his stock in life today for the chance to smoke, drink, and screw himself silly while sometimes writing catchy ads?
Well, me for one. As a child of divorce having married another child of divorce I am not ignorant of the inherent difficulties in making this thing work. Having said that, my wife and I have spent a great deal of our time together discovering which one of us does what best. This allows us, as it does with the best of teammates, to defer to each other when the circumstance dictates so. Need a 3-point shot to win a championship ring? Pass the ball to Kerr at the top of the key. Let Artest do his thing. Don’t forget about Robert Horry, either. At the end of the day, the ball, the decision, the whatever-you-want-to-call-it has to go through someone.
And, in our marriage, the road trip goes through me. I got my license and I got on the road. In high school I took off with a buddy to Colorado from Wisconsin. Shortly after graduation I hit Massachusetts from Milwaukee. And, as soon as I could I lit out for California by way of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Like most men I can easily imagine a life on the road, alone with my thoughts, a few good cd’s, some meatloaf sandwiches, grilled cheese, cold drinks, interesting strangers and virgin pavement.
Now that I’m a stay-at-home dad my road trips have mostly consisted of packing up my little one for doctor’s appointments, Trader Joe’s runs, and the occasional errand, mixed in with trips to see family behind the Orange Curtain and as far down as San Diego. I look forward to tutoring my boy on the thrills and perils of the road, to a time when we can light out for the bay, or the desert or the mountains or the coast or the…wherever the road takes us. Until that time I’ll settle for what I can get.
This past father’s day weekend I got Palm Springs. My wife’s mom retired and generously rented the whole family a poolside condo for three days of fun in the sun. But, first we had to get there. That meant a whole lot of packing. The baby required two big bags of wipes, diapers, ointment, clothes, toys, blankies, and burpies. That doesn’t include the boppy for breastfeeding, the spare milk, or the breast pump. That’s four bags. We also needed the car seat, and the companion stroller, not to mention my suitcase, my laptop bag, my wife’s suitcase, her purse, a fan (I can’t sleep without one), water, and a cooler full of wine; it was 3 days after all. The way back was made tougher by a four-hour shopping spree at the Cabazon and Desert Hills Premium Outlets.
There is something immensely satisfying about packing everything you need into a car and heading out for a trip, or returning home after one. That’s not why I wrote this piece, though. I didn’t write to brag about my packing ability or my love of the road. I certainly didn’t write it to talk about the meatloaf sandwich I ate at Kings Highway in the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs on one of our rare nights out.
No, I wrote it to let you know what I think it takes to be a champion. Often times I defer to my wife. Other times she defers to me. I liken this to passing the ball, which is very different from passing the buck. Passing the buck is what prematurely anointed superstars do after they lose big games (King James cough*cough). There’s a difference between winning and being a winner. So, the next time you and yours are at odds, step back and think about it. Does she let you shoot when it comes to packing the car or whatever is the thing you do? If so, why not pass her the ball and let her shoot once in a while? After all, Scottie Pippen has 6 rings too.
Photo Credit: Magec