Thursday, July 29, 2010


I don't know how it has happened, but I seem to have turned into a 50s era housewife. I've always known that I have some June Cleaver tendencies. When I see a mouse or other horrifying critter that is not welcome in my home, I jump on the nearest piece of furniture, shriek, and occasionally spontaneously sprout a string of pearls and high heels. This is awkward when the nearest piece of furniture is a TV dinner tray.

I'm okay with being traditional when it comes to mice. They're disgusting. Just as I will never find myself taking to the streets demanding equality when it comes to drafting women into the military. (I may find both of those things unfair in the abstract, but I'm too practical to really want to face down my own rodent infestations/crazed dictators. Hypocrisy, thy name is EGB).

However, my slight traditional tendencies have become much more pronounced lately. We are in our new house, and the kitchen has the majority of the furniture and is the only completely clean room. I am 8 months pregnant. I don't bother with shoes when I'm at home. I think you see where I'm going with this.

Even fulfilling that tired old cliche doesn't necessarily bother me. I'm in the kitchen a great deal because I like to cook and because there is a drop-down ironing board (oh, June, why didn't you tell me how practical that would be?) and I've been working on a baby quilt on the only flat surface we have--the kitchen table. The fact that I enjoy traditionally female pursuits like cooking and sewing is fine by me. I tried to be a grease monkey when I was a teenager and I bought my first car--a 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle. The thought when I was 16 was that I would learn how to work on an engine with the simplest engine ever produced. But it didn't work. I simply didn't care for it. I was much more interested in teaching myself to cross stitch and cook. J still can't believe how little interest I have in making my car go. I want to turn the key and have the car vroom. I'm willing to pay other people to make sure that happens.

This morning, the cable/internet/phone guy came by to get us set up. There was bad news--the cable that was already poking out of the living room floor was no good, and the cable guy was going to have to put in a new cable. This was going to require drilling through the outside wall of the house, and there was some discussion of taking down the clinging ivy from the outside of the house--which to be honest was one of the selling points for yours truly. I was on the phone with J when the cable guy told me all this, and I just passed the phone over to him. J and the cable guy had a lengthy technical discussion, which culminated in J running home for a minute to see what exactly it was the cable guy was talking about. I was basically left out of all of this conversation (voluntarily) and continued working on the quilt in the kitchen. Barefoot.

I have no doubts whatsoever that I would have been able to handle this situation were I the sole owner of this property. J is the one who does the technical stuff in our house, and J will perform the splitting of the cable that will be required because of the compromise that J and cable guy came up with to save the ivy. But darn if I didn't feel like I needed a immediate dose of Le Deuxieme Sexe administered intravenously. Being melodramatic by nature, I found myself pondering questions of universal truth:

Will the baby think that the traditional standards of mother staying home and keeping house and father working and handling technical issues in the home is the "right" way to do things?

While I'm perfectly happy to stay home right now, how long will it take for me to become a gibbering idiot who hides behind her hair when servicemen come to the house because she is so unused to talking to adults?

If I remain happy with staying home and keeping house and raising LO, does that negate the fiery feminism of my youth and the fights of my foremothers for me to have the opportunity to work wherever I wanted? Does it mean I'm intellectually lazy? Do these questions really matter if J and I and LO are happy and financially secure?

And Finally:

Will anyone notice if I spend an hour and a half on Facebook now that we have internet in the house?


  1. I have seen a lot of mothers our age who are going through this whole, "does being a housewife/mother negate my feminist leanings and activisty nature?" and I think not. After all, women should have the right to choose for themselves and to pursue their lives in whichever way makes them comfortable (as do men). Therefore, if staying at home and raising your kids yourself and making dinner barefoot make you happy, then you should do it and consider yourself a feminist.

  2. Thanks for that Jessica! I recently told a friend who was going through a similar internal debate over work and family that not making the best decision for herself and her family was a kind of renunciation of power. While I intellectually know that the women's movement was about giving everyone more choices so that they could make the best one, it still feels a little disingenuous of me to be so happy with not working (for a paycheck). You can know something and still not internalize it, you know?