Monday, March 26, 2012

The Relunctant Housewife

I'm now on the fifth month of unemployment and, while I am on the daily hunt for a paying job, it is starting to hit me that I am becoming a housewife.  A homemaker, if you will.  Though I certainly do not begrudge anyone this title if she is there by choice, it's not exactly where I envisioned myself at middle-age.  And to make matters worse, I pretty much stink at it. 

As I type this from my kitchen table, I am noticing the clog of crumbs, uneaten fruit and something wet (who knows?) under one kid's highchair.  And I'm looking into the open pantry door and sparse shelves with mostly-empty boxes & bags of rice and pasta and several "healthy" cereal boxes (for my "diet" - ha!).  Nary a thought about what's for dinner tonight has entered my head.  I can recall my own mother planning out meals for the whole week and, as if by magic, chicken cutlets, with sides of a vegetable and starch would be on the kitchen table as soon as my working father walked in the door.  I don't know how this was done in the ages before cells phones.  Brad calls me when he's about 15 minutes out and I rush to make grilled cheeses on questionable bread with cheese left over from a party two weeks ago.  Or, more typically, I get something edible in front of my kids and ask him in an exasperated tone "what do you want for dinner?"

The thing is...I actually think I could be a good homemaker if I truly committed to it.  If it wasn't imperative that I get a paying job.  I have my days when I make our home my full-time job.  Last Friday I made my entire to-do list chores that would make my house sparkle and start the weekend off nicely. I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, did five loads of laundry (and actually folded the clothes AND put them away without the usual buzz of laundy rage in my head), swept and vacuumed the kitchen, dusted, and scrubbed toilets.  And we had a lovely ham dinner on the table at actual dinner time (as opposed to 9pm when Brad & I usually have our meal of dip and pickles in front of the TV).  I felt really good about it, and about myself.  I was proud that I had cleaned the house and made a nice dinner for my family.  And hit the floor, coats and shoes were left where they dropped, toys were pulled out, couch cushions became forts and hair ended up in the bathroom sinks.  And my pride at supporting my family by providing a clean home turned into an internal rant that started with "do you think this all happens magically..." and ended with "when I get a real job, everyone will have double the chores!!"

I used to have a vision of myself that looked something like the mother in the Eggo Waffles commercial.  She's pristine in her yellow cardigan and is fully coiffed at breakfast time when the family comes rushing in to grab their waffles and sit around the table in the immaculate kitchen excited to start their days.  In reality, I feel more like a cross between the Carol Burnett cleaning lady and dirty hillbilly drinking beer on the front porch that's held up my cinder blocks.  Okay...perhaps hyperbole is my thing right now. 

I guess my point is that I'm no good with middle ground.  If I'm going to be a working (out of the home) mother, I want to commit to that so I get things organized and make it work.  If I'm going to work from home, I want to be the best soap scum remover there is and learn some good dinner recipes to create the illusion that I have it all under control.  Until I'm able to go in one direction, I'm just going to accept the dead plants in the flower boxes out front and the jelly toast for dinner, and consider myself successful.  Because one here notices the clean toilets, and rice with bologna is a perfectly acceptable dinner for most kids.


  1. Side note: you look fab with that vaccum cleaner.

    That's you, right? in your pearls and sensible pumps?

    1. Of course it's me! I wear the apron to carry my flask.

  2. I find myself with weird homemaker desires such as learning how to can, make pasta sauce from scratch, and grow my own food. But cleaning is never top on that list. So, I guess I want to be a frontier chick rather than a homemaker. LOL