The other day I read this post by Jamie Lee Curtis in which she muses about how she became a woman who is “obsessed with making gourmet food, organically grown, artisanally produced as (she) plays Words With Friends…this generation’s Coffee Klatch…”.
She’s certainly not the first to make the observation that there seems to be a resurgence of the 50s-style homemaker. Our mothers may have burned their bras and climbed the corporate ladder but many of us today are reconsidering our roles. We are supremely grateful to the women who shattered the glass ceiling and to a large degree swept away hard and fast stereotypes of what a woman is supposed to do and be. We are free to make life choices based upon our own talents, desires and goals. Women can be astronauts, doctors and C.E.O.s. That’s not to say we’ve reached total equality yet. Women still often earn less than men. But the women’s movement made huge strides in opening up options for women and I, for one, am indebted to them.
Despite having grown up in the 60s and 70s when the women’s movement was in full swing, all I ever really wanted was to get married and take care of my home and family. I spent almost all my free time as a child playing dolls, usually with my cousin/best friend who lived next door. Our grandparents lived right behind us and we spent countless hours “playing house” in our grandparents’ den. I wistfully put my baby dolls aside when I turned 13 and then turned to babysitting in order to fill that need to nurture.
I occasionally thought about potential careers. I briefly considered being a stewardess (that was before they became “flight attendants”) until I discovered there was a height requirement I didn’t meet. Interior design was another interest and I even went so far as to send away for some information. But honestly? The only thing I really envisioned myself doing was rocking babies. And I was chastised for this by those who thought I was “wasting my intelligence”. The thing is, I’ve never really cared too much about the opinions of others. Yeah, I know that comes as a big shock.
So, fast-forward a few decades and here I am, doing just what I always wanted to do. My kids are grown now but I’m grateful that I was able to be a stay-at-home mom most of the time. I did become a R.N. and worked for four years but health problems forced me to give it up. I then homeschooled the kids through high school. After my youngest graduated and got married, everyone asked when I would be going back to work. This interest in what I would be doing took me by surprise and I’ve yet to come up with a good answer to that question “What do you do?”.
I know I’m lucky to have options. David would be supportive if I wanted to go back to work but we both agree that our lives are better with me at home. His job is very stressful at times. He puts in a lot of hours and travels a fair amount. Having me at home simply makes our lives more peaceful and it works for us. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about not having to go to a job each day, especially on those cold winter mornings when poor David drags himself out of our warm bed to get ready for work. But I try to remember that I have a job, too. I just don’t get a paycheck and I don’t have to leave the house to do it.
Sometimes I feel out of step with the world. Is it really so strange that I enjoy taking care of my home and family? Many women complain about cooking but I find it a pleasant, creative pursuit. Most of the time, that is. I’m certainly not above the occasional take-home pizza and believe me, if David wants to take me out to dinner I’m all for it. But generally I get pleasure out of preparing tasty meals. I also enjoy baking bread from freshly-ground wheat and making my own yogurt, vanilla extract, jams and jellies.
Believe it or not, I don’t really even mind cleaning. I’m not all that crazy about picking up after other people but now that I don’t have little ones around, there’s not quite so much of that anymore.
I used to hate doing laundry and was always behind. I’ll even share a little secret, which won’t be a secret anymore. On more than one occasion when the kids were little and producing great mounds of laundry, I got so far behind that I would gather it all up and take it to the laundromat so I could do it all at once and get caught up. Somewhere along the line I developed a system that works for me and I’ve stayed on top of the laundry situation for the past 17 or 18 years. And yes, I do iron my pillowcases every Monday when I wash the sheets and remake the bed. A lot of people seem to find this amazing/crazy/impressive and this one five-minute task gives me a tremendous amount of credibility as a homemaker. Never mind the fact that I haven’t vacuumed in over a week. Ironed pillowcases seem to scream “June Cleaver” for some reason. And no, I don’t wear pearls when I clean house. However, I have been known to wear my tiara.
I have so much more I could say about this topic but I’ll save it for another time. I would love to hear your thoughts, though.
A few examples of “what I do all day”: