Once upon a time, when I was a woman who worked for pay, I remember considering that the feminist revolution was a crock of shit. Women didn’t know how great they had it! Not having to go to work? Only raising kids, cleaning and cooking? Seriously, how hard is ANY of that?
Now hear me out, before Gloria Steinham (who didn’t, by the way, have husband or kids) calls for the revocation of my feminist card.
I was wrong with a capital “W”.
Everything is immensely more difficult than my poor, sleep-deprived (once this was my choice), caffeinated-beverage drinking, restaurant-eating Other Self could have imagined. My Other Self sneered with contempt when stay at home moms complained. Home all day? How could one not manage to find time for laundry and four-course home-cooked meals? All while raising intelligent, well-mannered, happy children?
Then I got pregnant and had my first son and became a part-time telecommuter and full-time SAHM. In my efforts to validate the oath I gave to my husband- “I’m gonna be the bested wife/mom you ever did see”- I cleaned and cooked. I interacted with my infant and did my paid work during naptime and after bed. My Supermom/wife status lasted all of three weeks. Then I said, “screw it, I’m still working, I can’t be expected to do ALL of this!”
A little over a year later I quit my job and got pregnant for the second time further delaying my mission. My new feelings included mind-numbing exhaustion (while chasing a 14 month old), nausea (didn’t have any the first time) and depression because I couldn’t handle any of it. Zach met Elmo while I slept on the couch.
Predictably I gave birth- six days before my oldest turned 2. Also predictably, my second son was more demanding and my laid-back kid upped his demand ante to compete. Nuggets, pizza and PB&J became four-course meals. Laundry—clean or dirty—my arch nemesis. Domestic bliss was firmly situated beyond my grasp. Unlike men of the Fifties, my husband doesn’t really care if piles of clean clothes stay in constant rotation from the bed to basket until they are dirty again. Or when he does start to care he puts it away. Brinner—breakfast-for-dinner—is the one meal I can count on everyone eating. Four-course meal dreams were replaced by strategic arguments for why broccoli is good for you. I’ve been known to both vacuum and mop around toys rather than picking them up first. I had a friend marvel about never seeing errant dog hair at my house despite owning two furry, ever-shedding beasties.
To all of the women my Other Self scorned I offer my sincerest apologies. I couldn’t fathom that the constant drudgery of household chores would make them impossible to complete. I didn’t know that spending all day with the very people you had born from your womb would drain the life force quicker than any eight hour meeting about corporate goals. I couldn’t have realized the joy of wearing pajamas every day would be eclipsed by an excited “where are we going” from your 3 year old on the days I choose jeans instead. No one told me (and I wouldn’t have believed them if they had) that the hour between 4 and 5pm could be both the longest 60 minutes in existence while being the one time of day where it is impossible to accomplish anything.
It took several months for me to realize that the very nature of being home all day increased what is already a never-ending deluge of toys, clothes, and dirty dishes.
My Other Self was an idiot. My fervent wish is to time travel so I can go back and repeatedly smack the shit out of her while yelling “idiot” as loudly as possible.
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