Over the last 3 years, from marriage until now, I’ve come to think that terms like “quality time” and “bucket list” are for people who live in a fantasy land. Not many people I know, much less myself, are able to grasp more than a few minutes of cuddle time with their significant other during Sunday night football. Not to mention… alone time? Basically non-existent. However, on the rare occasion that my kids are napping and I can relax enough to ignore my enormous amount of housework, I tend to enjoy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and a Gilmore Girl’s marathon a bit more than the average twenty-two year old. Ice cream and Netflix = a girl’s best friend!
The other day I was relishing a little down time with those two loves of my life and ended up watching season 1, episode 14 of Gilmore Girl’s, “That Damn Donna Reed”. For 40 minutes I watched two of the main protagonists argue over whether or not the 1950’s housewife position is realistic. I.e., should a women vacuum in pearls or have a hot dinner awaiting her husband every night, as soon as he enters from work…etc., and suddenly, I caught myself questioning how I felt about the ‘stepford wife’ of 60 years ago.
Sure, I grew up watching reruns of Leave It To Beaver on TV Land and I saw my mom give up her opportunity to have a secular job to stay home and raise me. She always had the house virtually spotless and dinner planned as soon as she got up in the morning. But, I never saw my mother as a housemaid figure; she did those things because she loved our family. She wanted to give the best she could, not because she felt like a slave, but because taking care of our household was a responsibility she took pleasure in.
Fast forward… I got married when I was nineteen, got pregnant when I was twenty, and had two kids in two years. When I first moved in with my husband my main concern was to keep the house clean and to cook healthy, tasty meals for him every night. But, as obligations pile up, and my husband travels for work, I find that most recently I’m content ordering pizza and being happy to keep the kids alive! Other days, though, I feel less fulfilled and discover that I have a sense of duty that surpasses what I believe I’m actually capable of accomplishing. An urging to channel June Cleaver, with all of her familial dedication, lady-like pastimes, and push myself to truly do it all. Possible or not?
After giving birth to my daughter, almost two months ago, I’m beginning understand that fashioning my existence after the image of women from decades ago really hurts my self-confidence. While it may be attainable for some to become super-mom and seemingly get it all done in a day’s time, it’s certainly not to the norm in today’s society. The important thing to note is, that’s okay.
Circumstances for families in 2014 contrast drastically with people like Alex & Donna Reed’s. Straining myself to achieve an impossible amount of physical and/or mental tasks in a given day isn’t giving the best to my family if it’s driving me crazy. In the end, my 20 month old doesn’t care if every stitch of laundry is cleaned and ironed and put away but he’ll notice if I’m a frazzled mess tucking him into bed at night. I’m determined not to measure my worth as a wife or mom by an ideal from yesteryear. Kudos to homemakers of the past but, inevitably, times have changed.
Demonstrating love comes in all different packages; preferably not one disguised as a chicken, running around with it’s head cut off. Stress and anxiety are abundant for any spouse or parent so, why spend time recounting all the things we shoulda/coulda/woulda done if we’d just had one more hour, or day? What we do, as wives, stay at home moms, or as a career women is plenty because we are lucky enough to have amazing people in our lives to appreciate us for it. So, take that Sunday night cuddle or the fifteenth time your child has followed you into the bathroom today for what it’s worth and know that we are all giving what we can.