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.

Narcissistic

I love to write.  For me it’s a creative outlet that I don’t normally get to indulge in.  However, I have always been very uncomfortable with the idea of having a blog.  I used to think that they were very narcissistic.  Part of me still does.  I can’t help but think how self-absorbed a person must be to think that their “Dear Diary” entries would be enlightened and informative enough for others to care enough to read about.  However, my opinion slightly evolved after having my son, Liam.  He was my first and like many first time moms my head was spinning and could not comprehend what was going on.  I remember searching sites for ideas and tips on how to deal with sleep deprivation, unable to breastfeed, postpartum depression, the list goes on.  I found those blogs to be useful as moms would retell their trials and tribulations and sometime I would cry or laugh as I related to it.

Shortly before returning to work (part-time, three days a week, 10 hours a day) I turned to the internet once again hoping to get some encouragement and support as a part-time stay at home mom and part-time professional.  There are blogs upon blogs regaling in the joys of being a stay at home mom and giving advice on how to make your own puree organic baby food, while washing the cotton diapers and knitting booties.  There were endless blogs from mothers who rejoiced in being full-time professional but still found the time to tuck their kids into bed at night and bring them to the park on the weekend.

However, what I didn’t find was any blog to help the mom who was stuck in the middle.  The mom who enjoyed being a professional but probably would never hit the level of success as the full-time working mom did because she was not in the office enough.  There were no blogs telling the stories of the mom who stayed at home two days a week but never had time to make organic anything because she was always trying to play catch up with her kids, the laundry, the doctor appointments, etc.  There were no blogs to offer advice to the mom who was working part-time because she enjoyed the mental stimulation, the adult time, and quite frankly the time away from the house, but the minute she walked out the door she wished she was home with her kids.  On top of this, these two species of mothers who were polarized also seemed to be opinionated about the other type.  Full-time stay home moms would ridicule the full time working moms for not making the sacrifice of being with their children 24/7 and full time working moms would stick their nose up in the air to stay at home moms for not respecting themselves enough to using their college degrees and becoming powerful business women.

I was neither.  I was in this weird limbo that could not fit into either mold.  I was just hoping someone could offer me some advice on how to get some spit up out my new Calvin Klein dress I wore only once to work.  I grew increasingly frustrated and more and more lonely.  It didn’t help that in my own personal life I was only surrounded by the two mother types I described above.  I had some people question my income, my values, and my parenting skills because I did want to work.  I had others make passing comments that true success could only be achieved if I was in the office 50 hours a week.

So that is what brings me to today.  I am now a mom of two still trying to figure out the balancing act of professional and stay at home mom and being happy doing it.  I have come up with some ways to make it easier for myself and mantras to tell myself when I am down.  Maybe this blog is a little narcissistic or maybe it’s an answer to huge gaping void for the “limbo moms”.