I had dashed into the grocery store for three things. This was no ordinary grocery store, mind you: it was the one in which the renowned polyamory-friendly florist of south Seattle did her stuff. Today, though, I passed that wise woman and her wares. Today was bread, beer, and turnips, period.
I did a double-take by the collard greens. Pushing a cart, chatting to his toddler son, was Rob. He was a guy Terisa, Vee and I had met at the local dog park. He was another English transplant, who had just left his teaching job to look after his lad full time while his wife went out to work.
He was in here for some veg. He'd felt inspired to make neeps 'n' tatties (turnips and potatoes) for that evening's meal. Talk about a coincidence. I told him I'd intended to buy that noble vegetable for the same reason.
"You know what I add to that meal?" he asked. "Barley. Bulks it out nicely."
Did he cook a lot? Yeah, he said, mostly by experiment: sometimes what he came up with was just okay, sometimes better. Either way, it was edible.
It was while I was relaying a couple of soup-making tips that I realized the pleasing tableau that this whole encounter made.
"Do you realize, mate, that when we were your boy's age, it would almost certainly have been our moms standing here, having a chat about how much sugar to add to beef stew?"
A smile spread across Rob's face.
"I do," he nodded happily. "Isn't it wonderful?"
I told him that, though Vee and I were earning and looking after Edwin about 50/50 right now, we had been through all kinds of ratios on the carer/career see-saw. Rob and I exchanged a raised eyebrow about the dodgy quality of the kale, then went our own ways around the store.
As I headed for the check stand, I thought: there goes Rob, daffy about adapting to the parenting choice that works best for his family right now. Here was I, on my way home from my girlfriend's house. I'd left her in her home office chatting with one of her main partners, Scott, who runs a music business from the house. Meanwhile, her other partner Larry was away at his job as a software developer. And I was driving back to see my wife for a few minutes, before she headed off to train men and women how to teach Pilates.
Families are changing. And liking it.