|A typical Tuesday morning at my house. NOT.|
My husband called me a housewife the other night. Boy, did it hurt. Those words felt like the equivalent of him punching me in the stomach. It was as if he had told me that my last blog post sucked or worse, that my vagina was too large.
I mean, he could have called me so many other things that would have been better like a slut or a frigid bitch or even Chunks. I don’t call him a chicken-loving pasta cook or a dirty old man. Or a dirty, balding old man with a hairy lower back.
Does he hate me that much?
And when I indignantly said to him that I am so much more then a housewife, sure of the fact that he was just kidding around and would utter a retraction, he said, “I know you’re not just a housewife. You’re a domestic engineer.” Oh, so much better.
The word conjures up the image of perky, perfectly coiffed, apron-wearing, perpetually smiling, cake baking women. And images of submissive women who lie missionary position in bed while their husbands, who are their first and only sexual partners, pound away at them grunting and grasping for ten minutes before they roll over and start snoring.
She’s a woman who has slippers and scotch ready for the man of the house when he gets home from a long, trying day at his desk job. The kids are all scrubbed up and dinner is ready to be put on the table. There is always a vegetable on the plate, in between the meat and the starch, and it’s probably Birds Eye.
Then there’s this definition of a housewife from Urban Dictionary: An uneducated woman with no self-esteem and no life who thinks she has to devote herself to rearing children, her husband, the home and the pets.
Okay, that takes it a bit to the extreme. We don’t have any pets. But you get my drift.
Sure my husband is the primary breadwinner in our house. By more than a multiple of 10. So sometimes, I let him be dominant in bed. And yes, I do all of the laundry, even his really smelly, chicken-encrusted, bleach splattered work clothes. (Separate from everything else, of course.) I pay all of the bills, which allows me to put my MBA to good use. And I empty the dishwasher, clean the kitchen and go grocery shopping. And of course, am raising two, and sometimes three, teenagers.
But I also work part-time as a bookkeeper. Yes, it’s under 15 hours a week but I make enough money to make a difference. And I like doing it. It gets me out of the house and in to a different environment where I can use my brain and still get to talk about sex toys.
I’m also a come-to-it-later-in-life writer. I started this blog three years ago and went from dreaming of being a writer to actually being one. I don’t make much from my writing but I’m honing my craft, working on a book and making people alternatively smile and grimace while I do it.
So all of this thinking, about being called a housewife, made me lose some sleep last night. And today, after I made my husband his morning coffee, folded the laundry and cleaned the kitchen floor, I went for a run and gave some thought as to why I was so upset by his characterization of me.
And I came to this conclusion: Like it or not, I am a modern day housewife. I’m sensitive about it because I guess I don’t want to be seen as being a housewife first. And I definitely don’t want to be pigeonholed as being any one thing. Nobody is just one thing. Definitions can be so limiting.
Of course, what my husband thinks of me holds a huge amount of importance for me. I know he thinks that I’m a good writer. I hear him laugh out loud from the other room when he reads one of my pieces. And I know he thinks that I’m a good mother because he tells me so. He’s aware of the multitude of my talents. And he takes me seriously. So seriously that, knowing I was a little peeved by his housewife comment, he bought me these:
Talk about being sweetly old-fashioned.
But seriously, at the end of the day, if you feel the need to characterize me as being something? Please make it something a little more exciting. Like a sexy, modern day woman who happens to be married and runs a household, can help a kid with his pre-Calculus assignment, wire a dimmer switch, get rid of a virus on the computer, analyze a P & L and translate every day events in to words that will make you laugh, shed a tear and even cringe.
Gosh, I feel like Helen Reddy. Roar.
Top image via x-ray delta one/Flickr