In the last couple of years my mother has taken to buying me “retro mom” themed gifts.
I think it stems from any number of conversations we’ve had where I start with something along the lines of:
I don’t get why I’m the one expected to do [insert mind-numbing repetitive menial home-based task here]. We both work. How did this end up as my job?
How does he not notice [insert some (to me) obvious child-related or home task that needs to be done, like] a pile of dishes in the sink, or unfolded laundry, or the posted show-and-tell assignment for tomorrow, or the recycle bin on the porch, or that somebody should buy milk…
Usually these conversations culminate with some sort of “there, there” from my mother combined with this LOOK, which communicates that she thinks I was extremely naïve to think things would ever be equal on the home front.
Whenever I broach this topic, the general undertone of response from most people is that – despite us both necessarily working – I should be grateful for how good I have it and how helpful he is.
For clarity: I am. My husband is a wonderful husband, a good father and a good cook. He also cleans the bathrooms.
But it still annoys me that I should be grateful for “help”.
Because I didn’t sign up for “help”. I signed up for “equality”, by which I mean a fair distribution of the drudgery involved in maintaining a home – at least until we can afford a cleaning service and personal chef here at our chichi 1960s Campeau Bungalow and outsource the whole (literal) mess.
Before kids, equality generally worked.
Then we had kids and it suddenly didn’t work as well.
Even when my husband and I actively strive for equal, daycare inevitably calls me with any issue from sick kid to random parenting requirement or feedback. Mom asks if “I’m” cooking the Christmas turkey this year. Sister-in-law contacts me for the family photo project (despite my husband being the professional photographer).
Because it’s accepted fact that mom rules on the home front.
My mother’s gift from this Christmas? The 2015 Retro Mama Boxed Daily Calendar.
It is meant as a campy throwback to yesteryear. But after a month of reading, I think it’s more a statement on how little things have changed.
Here’s Amazon’s blurb:
will help you keep track of your busy schedule, with a witty twist and humorous look to the days when a woman’s place was in the home. Whether you’re a domestic diva or a working gal, this modern take on a retro theme is sure to add some fun to every day of the year.
Okay. So let’s have some fun!
A month into my daily wisdom from Retro Mama, I thought it might be fun to share some of my thoughts/reactions to selected daily wittiness.
Yeah. Mary Kay‘s still going strong.
My initiation to Mary Kay actually happened at 24, well before wifedom. At the time my reaction was pretty much on par with my earlier epiphany about frats and sororities – vague surprise that this really existed – and that, in this case, salesladies vying for the pink Cadillac weren’t something best relegated to American suburban fiction but were actively operating in my neighbourhood and sincerely needed me to “sign here” for everyone’s happiness.
At my first Mary Kay party my soon-to-be Mary Kay consultant for the next three years sold me this tri-skin care youth package thing. She showed us pictures of “super old-looking” people who weren’t that old and then told us their crème, if applied in upwards motions, would keep us youthful.
I bought. Mainly out of obligation to the party host, because it seemed to matter to her. And she fed us and plied us with wine, so $60 worth of unnecessary skin care products didn’t seem like a bad trade-off for friendship and a night out.
And we haven’t hit “PTA night-land” yet.
The moment I remembered was a Saturday when my eldest was just over a year old.
We were both back to work and establishing how “things would work” on the home front.
My husband and I had established a schedule where one of us would be “on” and the other “off” on the parenting front at various times to allow each of us to have down time.
We still do this, and it (usually and gloriously) works.
But on this particular Saturday in 2010, it didn’t.
I had our daughter for the morning, and then my husband was to have her for the afternoon.
He went for a haircut with a friend that morning, and they then ended up at a nearby pub for “a quick-lunch.”
I’d taken our daughter to playgroup, exhausted her, put her down for nap circa noon, and was waiting for my husband to come home so I could grocery shop (a chore I hate) by myself (so much easier).
It was nearing 1:30, she was due to wake up soon, and he wasn’t back yet.
No big deal. I sent him a text.
YES. On my way. – Came the immediate reply.
35 minutes pass. She wakes up. He’s not there.
I call. He tells me he’s “just finishing his beer” (wtf?). Then, in the background I hear his friend say:
“He’ll come home when he’s ready dammit!”
I hung up; and while I appreciate the need for manly bonding, like any rational, sleep-deprived and exhausted parent out to prove a point, I put our one-year-old in the car and drove to the bar to drop her off with him.
He apparently sensed my anger and, in the interim, came home.
I returned home to find him in the driveway.
We had a fight.
Where I was told I had acted irrationally (agreed, but he had abused our arrangement in a way that I felt showed he felt his time was more valuable than mine) and then …
… THEN he said ….
“It’s not like you don’t relax at home and then delay going grocery shopping.” The insinuation here being I stretched it out in such a way that I was grocery shopping during his rightful downtime (as opposed to my downtime).
I don’t know about you, but after a long day, when I’m in need of some serious relaxation and downtime, instead of unwinding at a pub over a few beers with a good friend, I like to do a full week’s worth of family grocery shopping!
Because nothing says “zen” like trekking to two different stores to get everything on our list.
Heck! Sometimes I stretch that Nirvana-like “me-time” out just to get under your skin. Why put my feet up at home and binge watch Lost when I can be trying to find the right lettuce, your specific type of deodorant, and f&*king diaper genies (aka: the elusive prairie whale of baby products) before queuing to pay for 20 minutes at the understaffed cash.
I tell you, it’s soothing mellow goodness on par with Barry Manilow. Or maybe I mean Barry White? If I was at a pub, I could play one of those quiz games and find out, or maybe just ask the regular at the end of the bar – because even if he didn’t know, he’d have an opinion and we could discuss it for hours.
But no. Really. Grocery shopping. So much better.
I’d imagine it’s like, PTA-meeting, relaxing.
We never really discussed it, because I’d like to think he understood how much my grocery shopping for us wasn’t equivalent downtime.
But that he even said it, or thought it, speaks volumes to how we’ve been raised.
If I had a day to myself?
You bet this is what I’d do!
God! I’d sleep for a week if I could.
I’d choose that over PTA-meetings, grocery shopping AND a pub COMBINED.
And it would be GLORIOUS!
Heartening to know even Retro Mama thought it from time to time too.
I’d never do it.
But the fictional freedom of thinking I could?
At times? Momentarily liberating!
So there’s my thoughts on January’s calendar posts. I may try this monthly.