there is a war going on in my house.  a battle of the sexes, if you will.  this battle would not exist at all if it wasn’t for me.  because if i didn’t have a real issue with the deeply-carved out roles of man and wife, there would definitely be no complaining on his lucky end.

ever heard of the 50’s housewife?  of course you have.  she is still alive and well in the minds of every man who suddenly finds himself married.  his behavior before marriage?  normal.  eat jimmy johns over the sink and throw away the wrapper.  see?  he makes his own dinner and cleans it up.  he’s self-sufficient.  he does his own laundry, washing all colors together on hot, and drying them all at the same time.  easy.

and then he gets married.  he finds out that the white towel cannot be washed with the pink sweater.  he shrinks the favorite black dress in the dryer, and, as a result, shrinks away from his duties as laundry guru of the house.  “i bequeath the laundry to you, oh woman, because you are so much more evolved than i am.  i bow to you, oh perfect chore doer.”

the kitchen becomes a place of frightening barbaric tools.  “where does this go?”  he holds up a microplane, the greatest invention for lemon zesting and parmesan grating.  the instrument that creates the very dishes he raves about, like pici alla carbonara (which we had just last night).

what is a man to do?  i’ll tell you what he decides to do.  it’s what men have done since way before 1950.  they realize, with glee, that their place is on the couch ~ back turned to the worker bee.

but i interrupt what looks like a bitter story of blame.  i have figured out ~ THE PROBLEM IS MINE.  i am the one with 50+ years of chips on my shoulder.  i am the one who needs examining.  he is peaceful, happy, problem free.  i am the one throwing the dish towel across the room and slamming the bedroom door.

in the end, i have to figure out how to strip away the years of 50’s housewife from my personality, and also strip away the years of women’s lib, too.  which didn’t do ALL good things either, you know.  i just want to see the behavior for what it is at this very moment.

the behavior is from the past, though.  it has been created by years of experience.  so, i tell my husband, “i go postal when i have to clean up the kitchen after making an incredible meal, and you sit on the couch and watch a movie.”  if i had made a cheese sandwich for dinner, i wouldn’t have been so angry.  but i made carbonara!  and brownies!  during the course of our conversation, i realize that i don’t need him to clean up the dishes.  i just need him to look busy.  seriously.  just do something.  unload the dishwasher. act like you’re folding the laundry.  sweep the floor.  just do something and i will not lose it.  how sad that i need him to pacify me.

i hate that i have this hot button trigger.  i would rather just fix it myself and we all live happily ever after.  but instead, i asked my hub this morning to help me with this.  he is the sweetest guy.  he doesn’t get any of this.  coming from the other side of life, he has not even realized that his mother did everything for him, and he just walked out of the room and left her to it.  and she happily did it all, because i have a feeling he was the single most adorable and sweet little boy ever.  one of those sons you would do anything for.  well, she did.  she did anything and everything and he was so grateful, and went and lay down on the couch and watched tv.  like an emperor.  how did he know he was creating a trend that would not jive with his future wife’s lady problems?

and i’m not saying my mom didn’t do all of that for me, and more.  she did.  i’m just as guilty.

the only person really behaving badly is me, of course.  because i am vicious about this changing, so naturally, i am the one making waves.  but we talked about it this morning, calmly, over coffee.  we are creatures of our upbringing.  we both have wonderful families.  his amazing parents were and are always busy, always doing, always working, cleaning, cooking, volunteering.  his reaction to that?  to not do.  to sit still and let them work.  i can’t explain why there cannot be too many cooks in the kitchen, but there just can’t be.

my amazing parents were also doers.  but my particular issue has to do with the woman slaving away in the kitchen, and the man in the living room, feet up, watching tv.  that was definitely something i witnessed growing up.  i’m not blaming my parents, and they had their own setup.  i’m also not scarred by that scene or anything.  i just have some hang-ups because i’m me.  i am too infiltrated with diane keaton movies to be okay with that.  it’s just the stuff of my generation.  but at the same time, i do want to be that wife who cooks and makes the house a home, and even wears pearls while doing all of that.  ha ha haaaa.  if you saw me right now, you would know that the pearls are a long shot.

i’m sure this is all confusing to the hub, who probably sees me as a walking contradiction.  but i want it all.  i want to be a home maker, and a professional.  i want help cleaning up the dishes, and i want to darn the darn guy’s socks.  i want it all, and i think i can have it all.  i just hope it’s not at the expense of my husband’s sanity!!!!

3 thoughts on “monday.

  1. This is really a beautiful rant, friend! Such a current problem for our generation – we’ve been left with the ability to choose anything for our lives, our careers our relationships. We’re grateful, for sure, but how the heck do we pull what we want together in a manageable fashion? And say no to some of the good stuff without feeling ungrateful and wasteful?
    My sweetie got scared into action yesterday. There’s a certain quality to my often huffy busyness that sets things into motion. The durn lawn got mowed, I tell ‘ya. While I cleaned and organized years worth of mess in the basement.
    Isn’t it weird how the topic of homemaking – pretty simple: wash dirthy dishes, clean dirty toilets, repeat – triggers major philsophical debates about gender and professional/private life balance?
    Good luck on the practical side of getting some help and some evidence of the respect you know he feels.

    1. Sarah, I love the new and improved kitchen!!!!! Now, the trick is to keep it that way. Not an easy task, my dear.

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