• Taking Care of Maddie
  • The 63rd Missouri Photo Workshop / Clinton, Mo.
  • “Her first words were bass and Papa,” Steve Jensen, 54, says proudly, beaming down at his granddaughter Madisyn Schudel, 4. Jensen has been taking care of “Maddie” since he was forced out of work two years ago due to complications from Type 2 diabetes. He and his wife Sheila Jensen, 51, switched traditional roles of housekeeper and breadwinner.

    Eager to contribute, Steve keeps himself busy with domestic duties, such as laundry, dishwashing, and cleaning. “If [Sheila] works and she becomes the man and she provides the income, who am I to say ‘hey, do the dishes!’,” laughs Steve.

    By far his favorite “chore” is taking care of Maddie while her mother is at work. Days spent laughing and watching cartoons together spice up Steve’s slow-paced week. He formed a close bond with the little girl, which he acknowledges might not have been possible if he was occupied at work.

    Exhausted from a full day of work and school, Sheila rocks Maddie to sleep before a long night of studying for her nursing classes.

    Times are tough but the Jensen’s try to stay positive and work as a team. “There’s no such thing as men’s work and women’s work,” he says. “[Sheila and I] know what we have to do and we do it. Together.”


    In a fairy princess outfit, Madisyn Schudel charms Steve Jensen one late afternoon as they read a magazine in front of his home in rural Clinton Missouri.

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