The Adventure Continues

My parents’ 57th wedding anniversary is tomorrow – June 15th. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! I think this might be the first year that I haven’t confused the date. It fell on Father’s Day one year, ages ago, and for me, I’ve equated the two ever since, making me perpetually late in wishing them a Happy Anniversary. Father’s Day changes every year, you say? No matter. You underestimate my ability to be wrong about something.

Hey, did you know there are traditional gift themes for each year of wedded bliss? First year is paper. Fifth year is wood. Twentieth year is china. Well, as far as I can tell, by year 57 all the ideas have been used up. By that time only the anniversaries ending in 0s or 5s get a themed gift. Seriously. On the list of “traditional gifts” the years skip from 55 right to 60.

My guess as to why that is: maybe whoever made the list felt that people grinding out 55 to 60 years of holy matrimony are too busy trying to not kill each other to really celebrate the honored day. Who knows? Maybe they’re right. Maybe by that point, not trying to choke each other is a gift in and of itself. “I didn’t suffocate you with a pillow this morning sweetie, Happy Anniversary! Want some breakfast?” Personally, I think 57 years of marriage—murderous thoughts notwithstanding—is one hell of an accomplishment.

The lists of traditional gifts often give an alternative modern gift for the couple who want to stay hip and with the times. For example, the first-year anniversary’s “modern” take on the traditional paper theme is clocks. How the two are related completely escapes me. Now while there isn’t a traditional gift for 57 years of wedded bliss, a modern alternative my parents have for celebrating their anniversary is a glass or a mirror. A glass, particularly of the decanter variety, I can understand. Giving each other something to hold the sweet nectar of alcohol or caffeine I can see as being invaluable to such a lengthy marriage. Sadly, my parents can have neither. So that’s a firm no on the glass option.

Mirror, it is. But really? A mirror? All I can really see my parents doing with a mirror is holding it up within an inch of the other’s face and saying, “SEE! I told you there was a smudge on your face! You just couldn’t believe me, could you? Noooo…of course not.” I’m not sure I want to be the purveyor of such a contentious gift.

Despite their individual secret schemes on how to plan what can only be described as the perfect murder, in real life my parents do what they can to keep each other out of the ground for as long as possible. Which is particularly good news for my dad. If anyone was going to kill an old man and get away with it, it would be my mother. That woman is nothing if not thorough.

I’ve often wondered what the secret is to a long marriage such as theirs. In an age when a marriage that makes it five years can be seen as “a good run,” there’s got to be something special to keep two people together for close to SIX decades. I believe that my brother and I were maybe that special ingredient in the glue that has bound them. No, not because their love for us created an unbreakable bond.  It was more than that. I think they decided years ago that whichever one of them asked for a divorce, they had to be the one to take the children.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, my parents loved us…still do for some crazy reason. It’s impressive really, given what we put them through. It’s just that together, they were strong enough to counter my and my brother’s daily foolish antics. They could commiserate late at night and bolster each other’s mental stability – “Did you SEE what that boy did? Just look!” “Oh well, that’s nothing on what the girl tried to get away with today…let me tell you!”  Ahh, there’s nothing like having a common enemy to keep people together.

At its essence, having each other’s back is their mainstay – their rock. Sure, they may squabble and they may pick at each other, but my dad still makes my mom her coffee (decaf these days) every single morning before heading out to the backyard to feed her feathered friends – I mean, hey, she needs company while she sits on the deck, having her morning cup of joe. In return, she makes sure his meds are always in order and that he has his fishing hat when he goes out on the water so his shiny bald head doesn’t burn.  And god help the outsider who speaks ill of either one of them.

 

Cookie Cutter Roles

You may have heard of a Facebook poster, Always Learning, a Christian woman, who advocates traditional marriage and gender roles. Her husband works outside the home, and presumably she is a homemaker – meaning she works in the home. In other words, apparently, she does the housework, she does the chores. Not an easy feat, especially if they have kids. Now I’m not here to advocate or argue for stay at home moms or working moms (I’ve been both actually at one time or another)…because both scenarios are exhausting, difficult, and often thankless jobs.  I was just fascinated with the backlash this woman received and I wanted to address it in my own little opinionated way.  Lucky you guys.  Hang on though, because my views on this topic are likely not what you’d expect.

Always Learning recently made a post that went viral. You may not have seen the original post but you’ve probably seen the articles vilifying her for making it, such as this one by Jessie Dean Altman, which started out by mocking the way Always Learning makes her posts (they are actually beautifully hand-printed entries on a notebook page, photographed and posted to her Facebook account) and then excoriating her for her “traditional” views.

Here’s the original post by Always Learning.

Do you “expect” your husband to help w/ household chores? If you do, you won’t have a happy marriage b/c expectations destroy relationships. If he helps, great, and if not, do your housework cheerfully as unto the Lord. Remember, you didn’t marry your husband to help w/ the household chores. You married him to be your protector and provider. You should also have married him b/c you deeply loved him, wanted to be a great help meet to him, and to make his life better, not worse and put more burdens upon his shoulders that he already has to carry in providing for his family.

Make his life as easy and happy as you can!

This post – and people’s reaction to it – got me thinking about gender roles and today’s feminism.

What is “women’s work” and why is “women’s work” always said in a rather disparaging tone?

And I longed to ask this woman for more information. What is her definition of household chores? Does she do the “men’s work” as well? When I was a kid that’s how the household chores were divided – “men’s work” and “women’s work,” though the chore categories weren’t specifically labeled as such out-loud. It’s just how things were done. My dad would mow the lawn, wash and polish the cars, and fix any electrical or mechanical thing that would go wrong. My mom would wash and dry dishes, do the laundry, and vacuum all the rooms (among other things).  Most of my friends’ houses were divided up the same way.

When the feminist movement started in the late ’70s, it was to press for equality. Women should get paid the same as men for doing the same kind of work, and women could do anything a man could do (duh), from flying a commercial airliner to being the CEO of a major corporation. If they wanted to go out to work, they should be allowed to do so, and not be expected to quit just because they got pregnant or the husband didn’t want them in the workforce. And the traditional women’s work – making clothes (some women still do this today), quilting, cleaning house – should be recognized for exactly what it represents, a significant contribution to the family and to society (not just busy work).

Which of course meant that there was no reason why men should be ashamed to help with the “women’s work” portion of the household chores. In fact, they were (and still are) encouraged by all manner of articles, books, self-appointed critics marriage counselors, and most of all their “better halves,” that housework was something that should be shared.  It’s all about equality, right?

Now, some women – and Always Learning appears to be one of them – seem to have a different view. She believes that men shouldn’t have to do household chores at all. Or at least, they shouldn’t be expected to, in her words.  Okay, good for her.  Who cares?  It’s her life, her house, her marriage, her choice, right?  Apparently not, according to those writing about her.

A lot of women, and men, nowadays do expect women to work outside the home, that it’s a “given” – and some women’s groups are even advocating that they be drafted for combat duty in our military (which again, I’m not arguing for or against, just making a point that the feminist movement has evolved).

What has happened with this evolution of the movement?  Women who are “just” stay-at-home moms, who are content to be housewife and mother, are often looked down upon. Especially those women who also follow a religious path. They should want more than that, is the general consensus. So the entire focus of feminism, to me, seems to be changing. And maybe not for the better.

The whole point of feminism and the feminist movement, as I understand it, is for women to be able to live the life they choose, have total equality in government, social standing, and the work force (should they decide to enter it). Not to mention the reforms made early on (and still being fought for today) concerning domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual harassment, and reproductive rights.

This woman in the Facebook blog is not advocating that women become second-hand citizens or lose their rights as “women” or as “people,” she’s simply giving advice based on her faith, her ideals, and her household.  While I don’t agree with it and never would (which is likely why I’m not still married!), this woman should be allowed her own life without being mocked or vilified for it.  Such is “feminism” in today’s world sadly.  Women mocking women because one is simply living the life she wants.

Social equality should mean being able to live the life you want as you want it, rather than being forced into something.  Shouldn’t that mean ALL lifestyles?  If this woman wants a marriage with traditional gender roles, so be it. She shouldn’t be mocked for it.  The feminist movement and all those behind it should have her back on this – IF they’re feminists.

Yes, she’s giving advice based on her views of traditional roles – but no one is twisting anyone else’s arm to make them live the way she does. She’s not claiming you’ll go to hell if you don’t follow her ideals and she’s not forcing her lifestyle on anyone.  Just like with any of the thousand pieces of marriage advice or parenting advice you may come across in a week, if you don’t like the advice she’s giving and don’t agree with it, move on.  Simple, right?  I thought so.

Feminism is supposed to give us equality. That means we get to choose what we do with our lives. So long as the woman is making the choice (and not being forced), good for her in whatever she may choose. I may not understand the mentality and I definitely wouldn’t advocate the lifestyle for my daughter or myself. In fact, I don’t agree with much of anything Always Learning has to say (big surprise there, I know). BUT whether it’s my cup of tea or not is irrelevant.  The feminist movement has paved the way for me, as a woman, to choose my own path, as it has done for so many of today’s women. Why isn’t Always Learning allowed the same luxury?

Where can I get a Wife? Seriously. (Redux)

After a day like I had yesterday, I thought I would re-run an article that I originally posted February 19, 2014.  Trust me, it’s just as relevant today as it was then.

————————–

Like everyone else out there, my life is filled with plenty of stress. I never seem to have the time to work through everything on my plate. With a family and work and my own life all vying for attention I routinely find it difficult not just in getting ahead but staying in place. Sound familiar? Well, lucky me, I’ve finally figured out the key to how I can finally juggle all these challenges. I offer this suggestion up to you as well – take heed as it may be the perfect solution to all of your woes as well.

I need a wife. I really, really need a wife.

Imagine how great it would be to have a wife helping out. Oh my god, wives are the best! Instead of just being one I’m giddy about how much easier my life would be if I had one. In the morning I would be able to wake up and actually enjoy a cup of coffee. Perhaps even while sitting down (the thought alone makes me a little woozy). My current way of drinking coffee is a bit convoluted.  You see, first I wake the kids up and get them ready for school (anyone with kids will know how that endeavor usually works), then I make the bed, take the dog out, start a load of laundry, clean cat litter, drive the kids to school, run errands, and then upon my return home, I finally have coffee as I sit down to start my work day. So the idea of simply waking up, stumbling to the kitchen and having a cup of coffee while sitting and enjoying the nothing that would be the start of my day could very well be Nirvana.

vintage housewife

In the evenings, with Wife streamlining activities, I’d be able to sit down and eat dinner. NOT a dinner I slaved over, mind you, which has cooled on my plate by the time I’m able to sit down. Oh no.  Instead I’d be able to waltz into the dining room right as it’s being plated up, able to savor the aromas, and have that sense of wonderful surprise when I find out what’s been prepared. “Veggie casserole? My favorite! Wife…you’re amazing.”  Of course I’d also have the privilege of turning my nose up at the meal if I happen to not be in the mood for it. “Eggplant parmesan? Meh, not really feeling it today. We had to have this?” I could also nitpick and complain about a missing spice or how the noodles aren’t truly al dente. Oh yes, this would be nice.

Another fantasy of mine that Wife could make a reality is the hot shower. I could take a hot shower.  As in, jump right in when the water’s hot and take a shower. I’m grinning ear to ear like a fool right now just pondering the joy inherent in such an event. There’d be no sorting of the laundry left lying on the bathroom floor. Or picking up stray towels. Or wiping down the sink (I mean, really, does no one else see that!?).  Just a beeline right to a piping hot shower with a towel that someone else had washed and stacked neatly for my use.  I could get used to this!

vintage housewife 2

To end the night I’d be able to collapse directly into bed. I would announce to all and sundry “I’m going to bed,” and simply go to bed. I wouldn’t have to do the nightly inspection of every room to clean up errant cups and re-organize scattered papers. I wouldn’t have to check to make sure the kids have done their homework (homework? what’s homework?). The pets would already be fed and the litter—which seems to always require attention—would be taken care of. I wouldn’t have to stress over what tomorrow’s dinner will be or make a mental grocery list or get anxious about whether or not I’m going to remember the kid’s doctor appointment or try to figure out the best time to drop off the overdue library books or remind myself for the 3rd time to call the insurance company to question that charge in the morning or spend the last minutes of my full day figuring out how to rob Peter to pay Paul to get the bills paid. No.  None of that.  I would just drift off into a dreamless sleep and actually rest, mind unfettered with the myriad of mundane details in running a household.

vintage housewife3

And best of all.  Best. Of. All.  Wife would nurse me back to health when I’m sick. How great would that be?  No doing chores with a head cold and fever. Instead I’d have soup brought to me (without my having to explain where the soup is or how to make it).  Tissues would be placed at my bedside with the old nasty ones being carted off and thrown away.  I could stay in bed wrapped in the covers recovering from whatever illness has taken hold drinking tea that Wife would have made for me (much like with the soup, Wife would already know the location of the tea and what to do with it to turn into a delicious thirst quencher). And it’s not like the chores would just be left, undone, waiting for my return to health.  Wife would have taken care of everything.  I have goose-bumps just thinking of it!

These Wives are pretty nifty inventions.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this before.  But I think we all need to jump on the Wife bandwagon and snag one as quickly as we can.

housewife

Where can I get a Wife? Seriously.

Like everyone else out there, my life is filled with plenty of stress. I never seem to have the time to work through everything on my plate. With a family and work and my own life all vying for attention I routinely find it difficult not just in getting ahead but staying in place. Sound familiar? Well, lucky me, I’ve finally figured out the key to how I can finally juggle all these challenges. I offer this suggestion up to you as well – take heed as it may be the perfect solution to all of your woes as well.

I need a wife. I really, really need a wife.

Imagine how great it would be to have a wife helping out. Oh my god, wives are the best! Instead of just being one I’m giddy about how much easier my life would be if I had one. In the morning I would be able to wake up and actually enjoy a cup of coffee. Perhaps even while sitting down (the thought alone makes me a little woozy). My current way of drinking coffee is a bit convoluted.  You see, first I wake the kids up and get them ready for school (anyone with kids will know how that endeavor usually works), then I make the bed, take the dog out, start a load of laundry, clean cat litter, drive the kids to school, run errands, and then upon my return home, I finally have coffee as I sit down to start my work day. So the idea of simply waking up, stumbling to the kitchen and having a cup of coffee while sitting and enjoying the nothing that would be the start of my day could very well be Nirvana.

vintage housewife

In the evenings, with Wife streamlining activities, I’d be able to sit down and eat dinner. NOT a dinner I slaved over, mind you, which has cooled on my plate by the time I’m able to sit down. Oh no.  Instead I’d be able to waltz into the dining room right as it’s being plated up, able to savor the aromas, and have that sense of wonderful surprise when I find out what’s been prepared. “Veggie casserole? My favorite! Wife…you’re amazing.”  Of course I’d also have the privilege of turning my nose up at the meal if I happen to not be in the mood for it. “Eggplant parmesan? Meh, not really feeling it today. We had to have this?” I could also nitpick and complain about a missing spice or how the noodles aren’t truly al dente. Oh yes, this would be nice.

Another fantasy of mine that Wife could make a reality is the hot shower. I could take a hot shower.  As in, jump right in when the water’s hot and take a shower. I’m grinning ear to ear like a fool right now just pondering the joy inherent in such an event. There’d be no sorting of the laundry left lying on the bathroom floor. Or picking up stray towels. Or wiping down the sink (I mean, really, does no one else see that!?).  Just a beeline right to a piping hot shower with a towel that someone else had washed and stacked neatly for my use.  I could get used to this!

vintage housewife 2

To end the night I’d be able to collapse directly into bed. I would announce to all and sundry “I’m going to bed,” and simply go to bed. I wouldn’t have to do the nightly inspection of every room to clean up errant cups and re-organize scattered papers. I wouldn’t have to check to make sure the kids have done their homework (homework? what’s homework?). The pets would already be fed and the litter—which seems to always require attention—would be taken care of. I wouldn’t have to stress over what tomorrow’s dinner will be or make a mental grocery list or get anxious about whether or not I’m going to remember the kid’s doctor appointment or try to figure out the best time to drop off the overdue library books or remind myself for the 3rd time to call the insurance company to question that charge in the morning or spend the last minutes of my full day figuring out how to rob Peter to pay Paul to get the bills paid. No.  None of that.  I would just drift off into a dreamless sleep and actually rest, mind unfettered with the myriad of mundane details in running a household.

vintage housewife3

And best of all.  Best. Of. All.  Wife would nurse me back to health when I’m sick. How great would that be?  No doing chores with a head cold and fever. Instead I’d have soup brought to me (without my having to explain where the soup is or how to make it).  Tissues would be placed at my bedside with the old nasty ones being carted off and thrown away.  I could stay in bed wrapped in the covers recovering from whatever illness has taken hold drinking tea that Wife would have made for me (much like with the soup, Wife would already know the location of the tea and what to do with it to turn into a delicious thirst quencher). And it’s not like the chores would just be left, undone, waiting for my return to health.  Wife would have taken care of everything.  I have goose-bumps just thinking of it!

These Wives are pretty nifty inventions.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this before.  But I think we all need to jump on the Wife bandwagon and snag one as quickly as we can.

housewife