Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not your mama's housewife.

I've been a stay-at-home-mom for almost three years and I'm finally, maybe, starting to get the hang of it. Turns out, all it took to go from Peggy Bundy to June Cleaver was the proper attire. I should have known.

Going from a working woman to a stay-at-home-mom is a shock to the system. Life is suddenly, completely, 100% different. It's enough to give even the most hormonally balanced among us a run for her money. But for me, it wasn't the mom part that knocked me off my rocker; it was the stay-at-home part.

Until Liam was born, I don't think I had ever spent more than a few hours in my house by myself. Then all of a sudden I was home, perched uncomfortably on a spongy donut with my perfect baby in my arms like, so...what goes on here?

Not with the baby. No, for some reason that came to me very naturally. It was the house that had me baffled.

I had no idea how much work went into this place. How it managed when we were both working full time is anyone's guess. Who took care of the sink that is always, mysteriously, full of dishes and the laundry hamper that is never empty? Not to mention the dog that needs to be let out (and then in and then out and then...you get the picture) and the cat that needs food or water or attention or something at every moment of every day.

What this house needed was a multi-tasking domestic diva to constantly stay on top of every last detail before it came crashing down around us. Unfortunately no one checked my resume before giving me that responsibility and I was severely lacking in most, if not all, prerequisites.

Bill would leave for work in the morning and return like 30 seconds later for lunch. I'd hear him pull up and suddenly notice my morning cereal bowl balanced precariously on my used coffee cup that was shoved amongst magazines and breast pump attachments and pacifiers and dishes from the night before on the ever growing heap that was once my bedside table. I'd walk out to the kitchen to greet him and the open dishwasher would remind me, oh yeah, that's what I was doing.

The same thing would happen at night when he'd come home (like immediately after lunch) and again the next day and the day after that. I just couldn't get on top of it.

It reminded me a little of Liam being born; of laboring naturally in the most unnatural, howling, screaming, projectile vomiting kind of way. One of the nurses rushed in and grabbed me by my face so she could yell at me nose-to-nose, "Maggie! You have got to get on top of this labor NOW! It's going to get a lot harder before it gets easier so GET CONTROL OF YOURSELF!"

That's when I requested the epidural.

But there was no easy way to take control of my house. No matter how hard I worked at keeping it clean and organized, it continued to outsmart me. I'd slog through a sink full of dishes only to find another pile of plates and glasses waiting for me the next time I passed through the kitchen. I swear I did the work. Just look at my dishpan hands! But it didn't matter. My house was a big ass muddy hill that I had to push a boulder up day after day after day; every time I stopped to cuddle my baby, the stupid rock just rolled back down.

This went on for a quite a while. Years, really. Eventually I just gave up and accepted the fact that I was good at taking care of Liam and bad at taking care of my house. But my housewife costume changed everything.

Photo by Liam.

When I tie on my apron ($12.99 on clearance at Anthropologie) and snap my rubber gloves into place (different pairs for different tasks), I feel like a superhero homemaker of yesteryear, ready to take on whatever mundane task my house throws at me.

I'm still not very good at cleaning (or maybe it's this time consuming for everyone?) or cooking (I forget to make dinner more often than not) but at least I'm having fun. My housewife costume and the hip hop dance mix on my iPod have made the cleaning part of my day something I look forward to. I put Liam down for his nap, step into the phone booth and hop out an ass shaking, dish scrubbing superstar. I doubt the 1950's homemakers ever had this much fun.

1 comment:

LClaire said...

You really are a super mom - your apron is like your cape!!