My life as a housewife


Every once in a while I have to fill out a form that asks for my occupation. I write "housewife."

Why sugarcoat it? Sure, there are euphemisms –– stay-at-home dad, househusband, domestic engineer –– but everybody knows what they really mean anyway.

I still do all the manly things around the house –– cut the grass, unclog the toilet and kill spiders. It’s just that I wear an apron doing it.

Mostly I spend all day long taking care of our one and one-half year-old. All day long. All the live-long day.

The weeks and months pass quickly, but the hours are awful slow.

Clutching my coupons in the supermarket or pushing the stroller through town, I hear a lot of the other housewives complaining about how hard their lives are. They shouldn’t do that. Not in this town.

Too many of our fellow citizens have genuinely challenging lives with parents working two jobs to keep a roof over the heads and food in their mouths. And in my experience, it’s these folks who are also the most likely to coach Little League or be a den mother. I suppose it’s the old adage of asking a busy person if you want something done.

Women wearing tennis dresses sipping lattes in the Starbucks shouldn’t be carping about how much they have to do. Truly busy people don’t play tennis and rarely have the luxury to sip anything.

Anyway, back to my life. Having resolved not to use the television as a babysitter (for now, anyway), we read a lot of children’s books around here. Well, I read them but you know what I mean.

I’m struck at how many of the children’s classics probably wouldn’t get published today. The Cat in the Hat, for example. A couple of home alone kids let a stranger in the house? Right.

My old favorite Curious George would never get by PETA. A happy little monkey gets captured so he can get put in zoo? Not to mention that George likes to smoke a nice pipe before bedtime.

Green Eggs and Ham? It would not even get read by all those vegan/vegetarian editors in New York City.

The big bad wolf in Little Red Riding Hood? What’s that whole thing about when he puts on Grandma’s clothes? And the only way a hunter with a big old shotgun is going to save the day is if Charlton Heston buys Simon and Schuster.

But the nice thing about having a really little kid is you can revise the stories as you go along. There one called The Hungry Caterpillar –– it’s your basic fuzzy bug becomes a beautiful butterfly tale.

But in my story, Daddy gets tired of his trees getting eaten and sprays the heck out the caterpillar with pesticide until he’s dead, dead, dead.

I just love a happy ending.

When we’re not doing the literature thing, we go to the playground.

Other than me, there are two kinds of adults at the playground –– mommies and nannies. It’s very easy to tell them apart.

Since this is Darien, if they belong to any minority group (and this includes brunettes), then they are a nanny.

If they send little Hollister off into the sandbox with a shovel larger than he is and no less than five Tonka trucks, then have a seat and file their nails or chat on a cellphone, then they are a mommy. If once in a while they tell Hollister to be careful of the other children (always an effective instruction to a three year-old), then they are definitely a mommy.

If they say hello to me, then they must be a nanny.

People have asked me why the mothers in this town cross the street to avoid me on the sidewalk. I’m not really sure, except that I think I’m a color character in a 50's black and white town. It’s as if you were watching "Leave it to Beaver" and The Beav had a friend who was home with his father instead of his mother. It would be a non-sequitur. But I think June Cleaver would still be nice to me.

Ahh, June Cleaver. Those pearls? Fabulous. I wonder where she got them. Um, no wait –– how about those Red Sox? No, you can’t go wrong with Pennzoil. Yeah, I’ve been looking around for chainsaws myself.

Sorry, I got a little carried away. I’ll be okay –– if I don’t have to fill out any forms for a while.

 

May 28, 2002

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