Monday, April 22, 2013

A Lady's Work

Mama: "I feel like someone should help that poor woman with her grocery cart."

20-Something Daughter On Bus: "Oh, mama.  No one carries groceries in the city unless you have to.  It's too much work.  She's used to the inconvenience."

 Mama: "That doesn't mean we can't help her."

20-Something Daughter On Bus: "Mama.  Just.  Just stop."

You know, when I was a young housewife, things weren’t as easy.  We didn’t have the luxuries housewives (like my ungrateful, bitch of a daughter) enjoy today.  Things like cleaning ladies, drop-off laundry service and Peapod didn’t exist.  Much more, you would be laughed at for using it.

To me, being a housewife means hard work.  It means always looking beautiful, even if you aren't.  I was already curled, made up and dressed (in that order) by 6am, re-pressing previously pressed shirts in order for my husband to maintain the highest level of professionalism.  A level that spoke, “Notice the starch and press in my shirt?  My wife did that.  Because she loves me.  And she knows I mean business.”.  Every article of clothing worn in the household was sewn by me, washed by me, starched, pressed and hung by me.  That is a lady’s pride.

At 6:20, I would prepare my husband’s breakfast: a glass of hand-squeezed orange juice, one coddled egg in server, and one slice of buttered toast, cut cleanly into four strips.  While he ate and read the morning paper, which I had promptly fetched at its 5:20 arrival, I prepared the children for their day.  Once scrubbed and dressed, they brushed their teeth and I prepared the perfect pancakes.  When they came down to join, my husband would have coffee and we would discuss our day.  As a family.

My husband would leave for work at 7, and the children to school shortly after.  I had my own breakfast, a glass of stirred, chilled gin and two olives, and began cleaning up the morning’s mess.  

Laundry followed, then groceries.  A trip to the grocery requires a certain amount of precision, timing, and sheer luck.  And if you don't have a car, it means carrying your groceries on a bus 110 blocks if you have to, so I appreciate your hard work.  Because I was a good housewife, I planned my trip around the televised “Guiding Light”, ensuring I would have my pick of the freshest ingredients, the shortest wait in line, and still be home in time to hear the radio showing that afternoon.  Most of the other women didn’t take the time or thought to work around that sort of schedule.  I did it because I cared about my family.  Women today can sit online, browse through their frequently purchased items, and click a button.  I trekked through all 12 aisles, a produce section, and the finally the freezer goods, making sure I didn’t miss a single thing, all the while pushing a heavy cart, most of which didn’t steer well, in heels.  That is a lady’s pride.

Once home, groceries put away, the cleaning would begin.  I would start upstairs and work my way down, always dusting first, vacuuming and mopping last, and taking extra care to make sure the home was clean, cozy and cheerful.  For a clean, cozy, and cheerful home means a clean, cozy, and cheerful family.  Nothing about hiring a woman that speaks broken English to come into your home while you are away says clean, cozy or cheerful.  The sweat, dizziness, and excessively dry hands are the perfect visualization of true love for your family.  That is a lady’s pride.

Next on the daily agenda is dinner.  One meat protein, a vegetable and starch.  A well-balanced meal for a well-balanced family.  My husband doesn’t digest pork well, and even though it is my personal favorite, I would often opt for a beef roast instead.  Nowadays, women can drop a tenderloin in a slow-cooker and watch whatever Kardashian, pardon my language, is babbling about on the tube.  That family has all the charm of a litter of tired, wet sled dogs, without having done all the hard work.  But that’s between you and me.

The children would arrive from school, a snack was given, and homework would begin.  Once complete, they were allowed to change and have a play outside, while I enjoyed my afternoon snack, a glass of stirred, chilled gin and two olives.  They would come in after an hour, and be scrubbed and dressed in time for my husband’s arrival.  As they set the table, I fancied a pre-dinner libation, ensuring the perfect pink set high on my cheeks.  Some women preferred to pinch their cheeks, but I was always told that caused early wrinkles.  Lloyd would come in, the children and him conversed over a properly set table, and dinner would be served.  We’d speak of our day, and then the children would be excused to their rooms for quiet time, while their father and I would proceed to argue like two honey badgers over a snake.  After the gin wore off, I’d remember my place, and we would put the children to bed.

I would change to a nightgown, wrap my hair, remove my makeup, and ask my husband if he would like to make love.  See, sex was not a luxury in my days.  We didn’t have fancy restraints, gags, or sex-on-a-whim.  It happened at the same time, before reading and bed, upon my husband’s request.  

So you can understand, miss, why I am where I am now, at the care of my eldest daughter.  For ending your husband’s life inside a burning a house isn’t something that was planned, it just sort of, well, happened.  I still do my best to raise my children as best as I can on house arrest, after serving an overly appropriate prison sentence.  You know, women today claim “abuse” or “battered woman syndrome” or whatever else when they hate and viciously murder their husband, but I’ve always been an honest woman.  One who likes to maintain a certain level of dignity.  For dignity?  Well, that is a lady’s pride.


tracey becker said...

Very cool story... Love the character.

Nikki Pierce said...

Thank you, Tracey! :)