The Housewife Zone

twilight_zone_door

You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension of not only dust and dirt, but of lost minds. A journey into a chaotic, lawless land, bound only by your imagination. Next stop … The Housewife Zone.

Consider if you will, Lisa Molinari. A Navy wife and mother of three, who, like many military spouses, works from her home. She wakes on Monday morning, with a sense of dogged determination . . .

After her husband, Francis, leaves for work and the kids get off to school, she wipes the kitchen counters, empties the dishwasher, and feeds the dog. She fills a bucket with disinfectant and mops the mudroom, kitchen, and bathrooms. She vacuums the bedrooms, family room, living room, and sun porch, sucking the fuzz from corners with the crevice tool. She dusts the living room thoroughly, to include the tedious nooks and crannies of her husband’s military coin display racks.

She eats lunch at her desk, while answering necessary emails with thoughtful details and accurate punctuation. She waters the garden, weeds the beds, and sweeps the porch while throwing the tennis ball for the dog. She listens for the buzz of the dryer, completing three full loads during the course of the day.

By the time Francis arrives home from work, the house is spic and span. She serves her family a delicious dinner of marinated flat iron steak sautéed with shallots and mushrooms in a red wine reduction, and a side of caprese salad using tomatoes and basil fresh from her garden.

“I’m a complete failure,” Lisa says, flipping a morsel of gristle to the dog.

“Hu?” Francis responds, shoveling the last of the mushrooms onto his fork while still enjoying the pleasant scents of Pine Sol and beef drippings.

Lisa slumps in her chair with a heavy sigh. “Ever since I started working from home as a writer, I live in some kind of crazy mixed up dimension. I feel bad if I don’t get my writing done because I spent too much time cleaning and cooking. But if I spend the day writing, I feel like I’m a lousy housewife. I can’t win.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty messed up,” Francis said, muffling a satisfied belch with his napkin.

Lisa watches her husband shuffle off to his lounge chair, picking crumbs off his shirt and eating them like some kind of primate. She was envious. Thanks to the military, Francis lives within the comfortable confines of the world clear expectations. The Navy dictates what he wears, his hairstyle, what time he leaves the house, what he does all day, and even how much body fat he has.

Lisa, on the other hand, lives in the upside down world of the housewife (or househusband, as it were), where she has a million things to do, but no one tells her when, where, or how to do them. In this vast dimension, Lisa’s actions are bound only by her imagination.

If she wants to wear pajama pants and her son’s old football camp T-shirt until three in the afternoon, no one will stop her. If she feels like googling all her old high school boyfriends for two hours while she’s on deadline, that’s her prerogative. If she finds apple fritters on the day-old rack at the Stop & Shop, no one will know if she buys them, takes them home, and attempts to consume all four of them for lunch with a milk chaser while watching DVRed episodes of “Naked and Afraid.”

Not that she’s ever done anything like that, of course.

And in the most bizarre twist of irony, now that Lisa works from home, she also feels guilty if she does too much housework.

This harrowing tale has no moral, no message, no prophetic omen. Just a simple caveat to military spouses everywhere: Self-discipline, time management, and balance are essential weapons for survival in … The Housewife Zone.

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Comments: 7

  1. Andi Sams September 30, 2015 at 8:52 am Reply

    LOVED this! Read it in the local Newport Navalog base paper! Thank you for making me feel normal! I thought I was the only one that thought/felt/lived this way! I’m a new fan of your writing! You are really good! Btw, have any tips on how to make those essential weapons in The Housewife Zone an everyday reality? It’s tough! LOL!

    • Lisa Smith Molinari October 1, 2015 at 7:22 pm Reply

      So glad to hear from people who read my stuff in good old fashioned newspapers! I’m still trying to figure out how to time manage and find balance through self-discipline… I’ll probably retire without ever having achieved these elusive virtues of housewifery!

  2. energywriter September 23, 2015 at 8:55 pm Reply

    Creative – funny – so true.
    I hate to tell you this but the dilemma continues after the kids leave home and the husband has been banished. The guilt isn’t as strong, but the debate about whether to write or clean house doesn’t go away.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari September 23, 2015 at 9:29 pm Reply

      Oh no, say it ain’t so!

  3. Dave Astor September 21, 2015 at 6:38 am Reply

    Brilliant piece, Lisa. And to the delight of female and male homemakers everywhere, that “Twilight Zone” door you picture looks clean. 🙂

    • Lisa Smith Molinari September 21, 2015 at 10:10 am Reply

      Yes, Dave… I must’ve been cleaning it when I was supposed to be writing my column! Bad Housewife, bad!

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