Tag Archives: Housewife

One of those days

Ever had one of those days when everything just falls into place?

Yea, me neither.

I always believed that I’d be able to manage our family life without compromising my standards. Apparently, I was wrong.

A decade ago, my husband and I traveled to Boston to visit his old college roommate, who like my husband, was married with kids, a job, and a mortgage. They were a few years ahead of our life schedule, so visiting them was like looking into our future.

Our husbands snuck off to drink beer somewhere, so I hung out with the other wife while she went about her day as a stay-at-home mom to three kids.

Riding in her dingy minivan to school, I felt a subtle twinge of anxiety. My counterpart was somewhat tensely gripping the wheel, wearing her husband’s jacket, workout pants marred with a blob of dried schmutz, slippers and a pair of broken sunglasses that sat crooked on her face. The floor was strewn with debris – discarded kid’s meal toys, juice boxes, crumpled wrappers and tidbits of food

As she chatted about leaving her career as an attorney to raise the kids, my mind wandered. “What is that schmutz on her pants? Can’t she scrape it off with her thumbnail? With those glasses cocked sideways, she looks like she might suddenly run us all off a cliff. At least if we are stranded in a ravine, we could survive a few days on the old French fries and Skittles under the seats,” I thought.

Back at her house, she washed out two dirty cups, served us some coffee and slumped into a scratched kitchen chair with the newspaper. I could tell that skimming the newspaper over coffee each day was her one selfish indulgence, and depriving her of this little break from her chaotic routine might just sever her precarious hold on sanity. I puttered to allow her time to read.

“Hey, listen to this,” she suddenly commanded. “A man filed a missing persons report because his wife and mother of their children disappeared last week. Don’t you know, they found her, happily living in a newly rented apartment. Apparently, she loved them all, but needed a break and just ran away.”

My crazed hostess lifted her head from her paper and stared out the window for a few seconds before mumbling, “she . . . just . . . ran away.”

“I need to go freshen up a bit,” I lied, and hid in the bathroom in hopes that she would find solace and not a loaded weapon.

On the plane ride home, I thought of how the other wife seemed to be hanging on by a thread, and told myself that I would never have such a cluttered, disorganized, chaotic life.

A few days ago, I was crying like a baby while careening down the Arlington Expressway in my dirty white minivan. Wearing my standard black Nike work out pants, those ridiculous looking “shape up” shoes, and a fleece jacket adorned with dog hairs, I struggled to see through my tears and the bug guts still enameled on the window from our spring break trip.

It had been one of those days. The kids sat in their seats, unphased. They’d seen this kind of crazed display before and knew I’d soon be back to “normal,” which for me was a mental state that vacillated between Supermom and somewhat unstable.

The tipping point occurred during an after school conference with my teenage son’s English teacher. News of my son’s academic transgressions, coupled with the normal events of every day life – work deadlines, dirty laundry, the price of gas, dust bunnies, hormones — was just enough to bring me to the brink.

But, I did not drive our minivan off a cliff or run away to find a new life for myself. No, much like the old college roommate’s wife up in Boston, I maintained my grip on that invisible thread from which we moms hang and did what I needed to do to survive the chaos.

On that particular afternoon, it only took a good cry, an entire bag of Combos, and two DVRed episodes of Dance Moms for me to make a full recovery. Ironically, I was impressed with myself and mothers everywhere, who, despite it all, continue to muster the strength to face one of those days.

 

Related Articles:  Mom doesn’t want to be a parent anymore (parenting.com)

The Sandwich Queen

About a million years ago, I had a career. I had a briefcase, an office, a secretary, and a view from the 24th floor. I did research, argued motions, interviewed clients and attended the firm holiday party. My name was on the wall in the lobby.

But then, when I least expected it, something happened.

That something was an incessant, unrelenting thing called life.

Two years after being unexpectedly blindsided by love, I found myself sitting on my Navy husband’s bachelor couch in our dumpy base house, in a state that did not recognize my law license, nursing our new baby while watching Maury Povich interview people who’d been abducted by aliens.

At first it was kind of fun, getting to relive all the times I played house as a kid, except that the babies really filled their diapers and I also had to do the boring stuff like making sandwiches and cleaning toilets. I never really thought it all through, and truly believed that I’d get back to my career at some point.

Fifteen years, seven moves, and two more babies later, I’m still making sandwiches and cleaning toilets, and the opportunity to get my career back simply never came.

In the meantime, I’ve discovered that long term housewifery does not always provide one with the obvious sense of achievement that a career offers. In fact, the daily drudgery of housework and mothering is highly susceptible to being completely taken for granted. We do not get bonuses for sparkling floors, pay raises for fresh laundry, or promotions for perfectly steamed green beans.

So, we veteran housewives must seize our ego boosts where we can get them.

Recently, my son, Hayden, started his sophomore year at his new high school, and I pack his lunch every day as usual. But this time, I decided to bump it up a notch.

My usual routine was to roll up three slices of deli chicken breast and place them onto two slices of whole wheat with a leaf of lettuce and a slice of Swiss cheese. To reward my son for working hard at football practice, I decided to double the meat, adding tender slices of ham and roast beef to the chicken. Two slices of pepper jack and extra lettuce made the sandwich so thick that I had to put it into a quart-sized storage bag.

On our way home from football practice that evening, Hayden, who is firmly entrenched in that infuriating stage of teenagedom characterized by an almost complete lack of normal conversation, said, “Hey Mom, I really liked that sandwich.”

My heart nearly skipped a beat.

Over the next couple weeks, I continued crafting thick, meaty sandwiches, sometimes substituting cheeses, adding spicy slices of pepperoni, or a fresh sub roll. Instead of waiting for accolades, I had taken to eagerly asking him how he liked the sandwich on our ride home from football practice. He would answer in typical teenage brevity, but always communicated his appreciation.

Then one day, Hayden told me that his football buddy commented on how meaty his sandwich was, and that he wished his mom made sandwiches like that. I couldn’t believe my ears and was exhilarated by my new sense of culinary superiority.

Call me pathetic, but the seemingly insignificant compliments gave me a renewed sense of purpose, and a slight spring in my middle-aged step as I packed the lunches each morning.

Sometimes, I’d receive a bonus with my son’s usual mumbled words of praise. Like the day he told me that the school security guard noticed how thick his sandwich was, and ordered Hayden to bring in an extra one for him sometime. And the time his JV football coach called him over during practice and said, “Hey, I heard your mother makes you a big deli sandwich every day for lunch; so when are you going to bring one in for me?”

Sure, it’s true that the closest thing I have to an office has a washer and dryer in it. And yes, it is rather ironic that I used to have a secretary but am now Secretary of the Football Boosters Club. And even though my name is no longer posted in an office lobby, my name is the one my kids utter when they want a tissue, help with their homework, a snack, someone to hear about their day at school, or a hug.

While I may never make Senior Partner of a Law firm as I had planned over 20 years ago, I’ve attained a status I never expected. I’m Head Nurse, Accountant, General Manager, Commander in Chief of the House, and thanks to recent events, The Sandwich Queen. Sure, my scepter may be a toilet bowl brush and my carriage a mini-van, but I don’t mind, because I know I am loved by my people.

Study Reveals: Bubbly Boosts Productivity

The hamper is overflowing. Tumbleweeds of dusty dog hair are rolling down the hallway. The sheets are due to be changed. The milk has expired. My “To Do” list is three pages long.

But somehow, last week I managed to squeeze in time for a browse at my favorite antique shop, a “Champagne and Sparkling Wines Seminar” (and subsequent catnap,) and one afternoon surfing the web while eating an entire can of Pringles.

Were these little extra-curricular activities a waste of precious time? Embarrassing displays of laziness? Unnecessary acts of shameful self-indulgence?

I think not!

We housewives rightfully complain about not having enough time to get it all done, and sanctimoniously scorn those who think we lounge around eating bonbons all day. To the contrary, we scrub countless toilets, thanklessly pack lunches and vacuum acres of carpeting. We endlessly dust, lug tons of groceries and put scores of miles on our minivans taxiing our kids to and fro.

To make matters worse, the job of a housewife is literally never done. Microscopic particles land right back on our coffee tables the very moment our dusting cloths wipe. Crumbs seem to materialize from thin air. Bathroom porcelain gleams only for only a day or two before soap scum haze reappears. Dirty laundry mysteriously reproduces. Dishwashers never stay empty for long.

Truth be told, repetitive, mundane, unappreciated housewife drudgery is not difficult, it’s just a total drag. It doesn’t take a high school diploma (much less my neglected Juris Doctorate) to perform the duties of a housewife.

In fact, some researcher at MIT invented a battery-operated disk named Roomba that will vacuum your whole house in the time it takes me to run to the 7-11 for another can of Pringles. And they’re coming out with Roomba’s scrappy little cousin, “Scooba,” who prides its robotic self on gobbling up the cooties and hair behind the toilet.  All for seven easy payments of some figure ending in nine-ninety-nine.

So, we housewives work day after day, month after month, year after year at jobs that can be done by a hunk of wires and plastic no bigger than a chicken pot pie, and no one understands why we aren’t always motivated?

Moreover, the mind-numbing tedium of housewifery is compounded by the fact that there is no tangible reward in it. The lowliest of factory worker – the poor slob who has the unenviable task of squirting that squiggle of icing on top of thousands of Hostess Cup Cakes, or the pitiable fool who took the job painting eyebrows on multitudes of Barbi dolls – even they qualify for performance bonuses, raises and employee stock options.

Conversely, there’s no one to pat us housewives on the back and say, “Hey, that was a helluva presentation you made to corporate” or “Because of your hard work and dedication, we are presenting you with this Employee of the Month plaque and giving you this lovely cookie bouquet.”

Nope. For the most part our tasks are necessary, expected and completely taken for granted.

So, don’t judge the next time you see a gaggle of housewives giggling in the racks at TJ Maxx, or sipping Frappuccinos at Starbucks after getting mani-pedis, or passing a People magazine between treadmills at the gym.

Or tasting champagne on a Tuesday afternoon.

Six housewives attended the little tasting seminar, and their comments were clear insight into why we felt it necessary to fit champagne sipping onto our To Do lists.

“While I wouldn’t necessarily serve this one at a dinner party, it would be a great wine to drink while doing the dishes,” one wife speculated.

“Ooo!” another wife yelped, “This has so many bubbles, it would make a great mouthwash for the bathroom.”

Our teacher told us that “The dryer flavor of this cava would pair nicely with meats, strong cheeses, Chinese food, spicy casseroles . . .”

“Hamburgers? Enchiladas? Bratwurst?” Another wife added.

“Cereal?” I offered, and the others laughed as I hoped they would.

These little excursions might seem indulgent and unnecessary; but to the contrary, such activities are crucial for the housewives’ mental well-being and absolutely required to maintain adequate productivity.

Oh, and to the nerd up at MIT: you make me one of those little machines that will pick my husband’s dirty boxers up off the floor, chaperone the 5th grade field trip, and teach my teenage son some respect, and I’ll be your first customer.

I’ll even treat you to a nice bottle of champagne. I happen to know one that tastes quite good.

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