I Need a Wife
I'm on my fourth week of working graveyard at my new job. Total reality change in every way. Becoming a day sleeper is completely altering the rhythms of rest, hunger and productivity. In other words, I sleep weird hours, I'm hungry at odd times (2a.m. is my new lunch hour!) and my house is getting kinda grungy, though I feel quite accomplished that I managed to sweep up the kitchen and dining room today. Hurray for Super Women and the image they create for the rest of us to live up to!
I grew up with a dad who worked the night shift, and my husband has worked grave for years. Both of these men worked nights with grace and stamina. I have not yet developed the resilience I have seen in them as they just rolled with being night shifting day sleepers. But then I remind myself to realize that these two men had something that I don't have which helped them transition and maintain calm waters on dark nights : a wife.
"No offense, honey, you're great and I appreciate that you're helping out more, but the truth is I need a wife," I announced to my husband Jerry last week when I was still in my jammies at 7p with no idea or the energy to think of what to feed my family. (I finally went to Popeye's,even though the last time I brought home Popeye's fried chicken I swore I'd never do that again due to the resulting gastric disturbances.) My husband and kids are great human beings, but no matter how they pitch in, I still feel the weight of managing the home, the pantry and the housewife tyrannical list of household chores all on my own.
I blame culture for this, the idea that the American
woman... no, American mother, is able to provide and maintain a healthy, clean and nurturing environment for her family. She is Super Woman, able to clean and cook and work long hours (even night shift!) while maintaining her girlish figure and creating made-from-scratch organic meals prepared with vegetables and grass-fed animals that she sets on a lovely table for her family to gather around for the evening meal (which, by the way, is at the same time every night.)
I came close to being Her. During the early years of Rose and Jeremy's lives, I was privileged to be home alot. I worked part-time or not at all. With all that home time I managed to plot weekly meal plans and accompanying grocery lists to make all those meals. I baked frequently, and for a short time had a stellar reputation for my gorgeous chocolate chip challah bread. I shit you not.
My fragile womanly ego was challenged by cultural conditioning before I even got my first bra. Watching all those tv shows, Bewitched, The Waltons, Little House on the Praire, and of course, The Brady Bunch, mirrored to me that women run their households and manage their families with perfect meals and gleaming floors with the finesse of a ballerina and not one hair out of place. Though I did not aspire to become the Perfect American Wife, her ghost somehow showed up and works overdrive to manage my conscience by guilting me about all the areas of home and family I have dropped the ball.
Night shift has triggered a new wave of Perfect American Wife Syndrome in me. It's like a relapse.
But this is week four. I am making strides towards accepting the new normal of my household. I have ordered a crockpot cookpot. I wear shoes when the floor is so dirty that my feet stick. That way I avoid feeling bad with every crunchy, sticky step I take. (Which is what makes today's sweep of the kitchen and dining room a victory for me in the battle for a clean and orderly home. A small victory, but V-day for me nonetheless!)
I'm grateful for my new job. It's the job of a lifetime. Jerry works there, too, which makes it extra special for both of us. The kids are teenagers, good and grown to take care of their own needs, even if that means eating a bowl of Top Ramen 'cause Mom went back to bed.
Alright. Time for me to log off. I have a nap with name on it to go catch. The dishes can wait and maybe husband or teenagers will surprise me and mop the swept floors. I left the mop sitting in the middle of the kitchen. If I had a wife, I bet she'd totally be on it. Without me having to tell her. More than once. And with notes. And text messages.... or blog posts.