The Phenomena of the Housewife

Desperate Housewives and all versions of the Real Housewives of Orange County, New York City, Miami, etc., created a new look on the housewife.  These shows could almost be deemed acceptable if they had stayed on our television screens and never seeped into our society.  Unfortunately, it has infiltrated our social norms.  Growing up as a child of a stay at home mother, my idea of a housewife was exhausting.  The stay at home mom was the caregiver, the cook, the tutor, the chauffeur, the maid, the seamstress, the dog walker, and too many other busy titles to list here.  However, somehow in the last 15 years the housewife has become a title for a woman who has perfectly manicured nails, a personal trainer, and more often than not a laissez-faire approach to raising her children.  Moreover somehow this new breed of housewife, has turned her children to an accessory right alongside the designer handbag.  This is not to say by any means this is by definition all housewives, however it seems to becoming increasingly popular.

This past weekend my husband and I took our children to the park. When we arrived there, there were three girls and two mothers.  The girls ranged in age from 8-10 and they were running about.  The two mothers were sitting at picnic tables on the other side of the park in the pavilion engaged in a deep conversation.  I had this moment of self-reflection as I looked at them.  They were so well put together, I was envious.  Even on a good day my hair and makeup never looked so pristine.  How did these moms manage it? Nearby the mothers was a water fountain that Liam asked me to lift him up to get some water.  I overheard them busily chatting about a dinner party one was planning and what the chef was going to cook.  I walked out the pavilion and toward the playground, ready to push Liam and Ava on the swings.

As we approached the swings the three girls yelled to Liam and Ava, “The babies are here.  You can’t play here.”  I felt a surge of anger at this but I quickly quenched it.  The girls continued to point and yell at Liam and Ava as they got on the swings, calling them babies and telling them they could not play.  Just then two other cars pulled into the parking lot and families with young children (younger than Liam) came out of the car.  The girls then carried on to say, “Look more babies.  They can’t come here.”  I glanced over to the two mothers who were now looking at their phones, unaware of what was going on.  As the families approached the playground two of the young children began climbing the jungle gym.  One of the girls quickly scooted in and intervened in front of the young children and said, “You can’t climb this.  You are just a baby.”  Staring at the two mothers who were oblivious to what was going on, the father shot back in a very loud and stern voice, “I don’t know where your parents are, but this playground is for everyone. Please get out of my children’s way, and play nicely.  You are being fresh.”  The mothers then looked up and called their daughters over.

There were many things about that whole interaction that shocked me.  When I was their age I was eager to be a mother’s helper and someday a babysitter.  This blatant superiority complex in such young children was unnerving to me.  On top of that, to see two mothers so disengaged with their children that they had no idea what was going on, seemed very irresponsible.  I understand as children get older they do not need their parents hovering over them.  But these mothers were so out of tune to what was going on they were completely clueless to how rude their daughters were behaving.  Now I am not insinuating that every well-manicured mother raises ill-behaved children, but it was Liam in Ava in their mud puddleevident that these mothers had fallen victim to the Housewifitis that has fallen over this country.  Designer handbags and expensive nights out on the town don’t translate to meaningful experiences for children.  It’s spending quality time with them, whether it is reading a book to them every night before they go to bed or running around in the backyard.  Our children are truly a reflection on ourselves.  I see it all that all the time with my kids.  The good and the not so good habits they have picked up from me.  They are only in each phase for so long before they move onto the next stage.  Although, I miss each one of the stages as they grow out of it, I continue to enjoy the new one they go into.  I couldn’t help but think that these mothers were missing all of that as I have a hard time believing involved and engaged parents would allow such behavior.  Money can’t buy happiness, nor will it buy you memories or manners.

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