The ultimate wife and mother…if you don’t care about her having a vagina or a brain
Moments before my husband is due home, I adjust my position on the sofa from one expressing languid relaxation to one implying grace under pressure. My freshly washed hair is fanned across the armrest, and, as his key turns in the lock, I fling an arm limply across my forehead.
He rustles out of his coat and pauses, reconsidering his habit of tossing it on the nearest chair. I hear the clank of wooden hangers in the hall closet and feign a weak smile as he approaches with tenderness, even a bit of reverence. Because what else can a man feel for a woman who spends the day working (from home, mostly) and then takes care of children, manages to perfectly clean her home, wash, fold and put away the laundry and still look so amazingly good?
Before he has time to ask about my day, I murmur wearily, “I’ve been slaving all day to get this place in order.” My husband kisses me a little more passionately than usual. He clearly finds the thought of me slaving exciting. In lieu of foreplay, he slips into an apron and makes dinner. Tuesdays are my favourite.
That’s because on Tuesdays, a lovely woman comes to clean and do laundry for four hours while I run personal errands, meet a friend, or play with the kids in the park. Because, as you might have gleaned from earlier posts, I’m a bit of a handful, I felt like I needed this one thing to make him think, “Holy Shit! I married an amazing woman.” For this reason, I was certain my husband must never ever find out.
We are reminded from toddlerhood never to lie, but those fibs that make living and raising children with a man possible should be lumped into a different category. I wonder if it’s only my dysfunctional brain that makes marriage work this way.
While growing up, my grandmother taught me womanly arts: how to separate an egg, get blood stains out of a white shirt and to sew on a button. She also taught me how to avoid unnecessary fights.
Although she juggled being a mother and a full-time schoolteacher, my grandfather nevertheless commanded that the kitchen floor be waxed every week. Gran wanted to comply because her man believed a freshly waxed floor was a sign of an orderly house; a sign of love. But it was a soul-destroying task that had to be done on hands and knees, easily consuming an entire day.
My grandmother admitted she was dangerously close to hating her new husband early in their marriage. Until, that is, she began to smear a bit of floor wax around the door frames an hour before her husband came home. When he walked into the kitchen, he smelled floor wax and everyone was happy.
It may have been a lie, but it sounded like wisdom to me. When Grandpa died in 1998, they’d been married nearly 60 years.
In this instance, I think lying is okay if it saves your relationship or your sanity. So why is this subject so taboo? I took an informal survey of my closest, smartest coworkers. Just two admitted to telling untruths in a loving, stable relationship.
But now, at this point in the whole mid-life crisis journey, I feel like it’s time to come clean. And guess what? It led to a rather interesting conversation in which I explained that for our family’s bottom line, it is far more cost effective to prevent me from going crazy than to actually let me go crazy. (topic for a later post, I think). So the cleaning lady is here to stay, I think.
But that doesn’t mean I’m honest about everything…. Last week I stopped my husband from repairing our broken garburator by telling him our neighbour’s son needed to fix it for his school project. I paid the plumber in cash and shredded the invoice. In the moment, it seemed an act of love: the garburator got fixed by a professional. My husband still feels manly. I didn’t have to drive anyone to emergency. Harmony is maintained. Love reigns.
But sometimes I need to be sure he does know all of this really is about love. So I’ll let some stories slip and make sure I’m ready with a laugh and a kiss when he finishes reading this piece.
Who in your life appreciates what a smart, funny, resourceful person you are??
If you like this or any other BlunderWoman blog post, please subscribe and share widely.