Saturday, February 04, 2012

Housewife Chronicles

This post also could have been known as Housewifing for Dummies, or Finding Your Inner Screamer. Perhaps (Housewifery) Housewives: 2012 It’s the blog that’s going to tell you not only how to peel potatoes properly, but also how to use all the skills you spent years acquiring in the workforce. As a housewife, you need to perform at your optimum, as though you were the CEO of your own company, because in a sense now, that’s what you are. I know. Heady news. You spent years in a cubicle, hoping for a $2 an hour raise, and here, in the blink of an eye, or more likely an 18 hour labour, you’re CEO.

Let’s back up. It’s very possible that you hit this site, thinking, “But I’m not really a housewife, I’m only on a maternity leave.” Listen sister, you’re a housewife. Being a housewife may be everything you ever dreamed about or it may be the stuff of your nightmares. Either way, for the the next six weeks, three months, or full year in Canada, you are a housewife.

Perhaps this is the culmination of some long held dream. Some women I know have never made a secret of the fact that the epitome of womanhood, to them, is to through in the workplace towel and stay at home with their kids. Some women harbor more secret dreams of leaving the rat race, and couch their decision not to re-enter the workforce in terms of feigned regret.

If you’re of the age I am, housewife conjures up many memories. I think, in no particular order, of aprons, meatloaf sandwiches, and being told to “be back by supper.” But the world has changed, my friends. Aprons are chic again, yes, but the meatloaf better be bistro style, made from organic, hormone free beef, and the “be back by supper” is now “let mommy organize a playdate with Madison so we don’t both go batshit crazy.”

In the interests of full disclosure I should tell you a few things. First, I am not a true housewife. I’m not good at it, and I stole all of these ideas from my friend Robynn, who is simply the best housewife I know. I have a cleaner, I drop my kids off every day that I can at their friends, and I look for ways to get out of all possible house-related work. So don’t email me and complain that you just found out I have a cleaner. I’m telling you now, I have a cleaner. If that affects our budding relationship, well, too bad for you.

This story, or the good parts anyways, really is in fact Robynn’s story but she refuses to listen to anything I say about the value of her knowledge, and since it’s another way for me to get out of doing housewifey things (my family will eat another meal on the fly today thanks to the fact that I’m doing this instead of leafing through a cookbook, planning ahead), I have to write it. It sort of works out perfectly, though, since I’d way rather be writing about what Robynn is probably doing right now than doing it myself.

The idea of the book came about after I had my third child. Charlie was five or six months old and Robynn came over one afternoon for a quick coffee while I was getting ready to hold my middle daughter, Sophia’s, fourth birthday. Robynn watched me slice potatoes for about two seconds before she took charge. “Here, gimme a knife. That’s going to take you forever.” Another two seconds later. “Where is your sharpener? How can you cut anything with these knives?” At this point I had to confess that I had never, in my nine year marriage, sharpened the knives. I also had to confess that it pissed me off, being basically unable to slice a tomato without completely squishing it, but the whole sharpening thing was beyond me. However, since we’d moved the previous fall, I did know that whereabouts of what I figured was the sharpener, so I dug it out. In the time it took for me to lean against the counter and cross my arms, Robynn had sharpened my knives. It was awesome. The knife just seemed so useful, all of a sudden, instead of annoying. It was at that moment that I had a serious “aha” moment. No, it was not, jeez, I should learn how to sharpen my knives; I now know I can count on Robynn for that. No, I realized that there were many obvious things that I should know, but don’t.

Of course, for the next few days, every time I used a knife I cut the end off another one of my fingers, but they healed up just fine.