>"To be or not to be a Housewife…"

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July 20 2006
New Jersey

To be or not to be……..a desperate housewife,
that is the question – I find myself contemplating quite frequently lately.

Along with –
“What is it that I do all day that merits acknowledgement?”
“Why is it that there are never enough hours in a day, days in a week to suit my needs?”
“Does constantly running around and taking care of minor details for my family, constitute a full time job?”
It was so much easier to find logical explanations when the boys were younger but today the right answers seem to elude me.

I wasn’t always a housewife. I had a promising career in fashion retailing until I had kids.
Believe it or not, from the time when I was a little girl, in none of my dreams for the future was there a house that I was cleaning or a family that I was picking up after.

But we all have to grow up and take responsibility in our lives sometime and my husband could provide very nicely for us so I found myself in the disagreeable (to me) position of the home maker.
Luckily my maternal instincts kicked in and I realized that I couldn’t trust my children to anyone else’s care.
I could turn them into my masterpieces.

Since I couldn’t come to terms with a life where in my opinion I was accomplishing nothing on a daily basis, I tried for a brief period of time to work out of my home but after an episode of getting stuck in Istanbul traffic for about 3 hours with a 2 and a half year old and a baby I was still nursing, I resigned myself to the inevitable – my family’s needs were more important than any financial gain, or personal satisfaction.
So, in accordance with the decision I made on that faithful day, I have devoted the last 15 years of my life to taking care of my boys and husband and trying to constantly improve upon the quality of life we lead.

I have been mostly happy except for those few times, every once in a while when I would get pangs of yearning to be out there in the real world where I could turn my ideas into reality and where I would be recognized as an individual; nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a few hugs or kisses???

There have been some minor disagreements within the family about my appalling habits in the housekeeping department but I have always justified my existence by pointing out the achievements of my confident and well rounded children.

Even though I have been looking for the right pretext for my unacceptable behavior, until recently I always felt deep in my heart, I was doing the right thing.

All of that changed couple of days ago; I was on the phone with a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen for months. She sounded so desolate that I was trying to cheer her up by pointing out to her all that she had to be positive about; how she had an intelligent and well adjusted daughter that she could take pride in.
She in turn, went onto enlighten me about her theories about ‘nature versus nurture,’ arguing that we couldn’t take pride in our children’s accomplishments since it was all due to their genes and we couldn’t possibly alter what they would become in the end no matter how hard we tried.

This really knocked the wind out of my sails.
It was too close to home…..
It was totally unacceptable…..
If I were to believe this theory how would I justify the last 15 years to myself.

She had some solid examples that couldn’t be overlooked so easily, like the baby boomer generation, how their mothers never went crazy trying to get them to do a hundred different activities; they turned out all right.
She was saying that it was us, as mothers who were creating these multi tasked children who didn’t just go out and play with their friends but who were running around from one activity to another.
According to her argument the mothers of the baby boomers had dinner on the table, clean clothes for their kids but they also played tennis at the club; they weren’t trying to fit in a different activity to every single minute of every day.

The sole justification for their existence was not dependent on the accomplishments or the versatility of their children.
They were home makers, this was their occupation and just like in any other occupation they were accepted and respected for whom they were, not what they were doing.

Now this was something to think about…
After thinking long and hard and looking for clues within the recesses of my mind, it hit me all of a sudden.
It was so obvious that I was ashamed that I hadn’t thought of it sooner.

It is us, the desperate, disgruntled, accidental housewives (just to borrow a few adjectives from today’s fiction) that are creating these prematurely multitasking, overachieving, flock of kids who don’t have time for the basic pleasures of the simple life. Through them we are making our own statement to the world.

I recognize that it is a tougher world out there where our children have to compete and survive; they will need all the extra ammunition we could possibly provide for them. But I believe, in the end, the path to true contentment lies within finding pleasure in the basic, simple things in life.

To get back to the issue at hand, in today’s world it is not acceptable to be just a housewife. In a society where the image of the modern, successful woman is portrayed as the well toned, executive who has a career and takes care of her family, it is not enough for us to be just staying at home and doing the mundane tasks of housekeeping.
We also have to be creating something of mammoth proportions. This something is our children, they are our creative outlets into the incessantly unsatisfied, demanding world we live in today.

Having said all that, when I look back I remember the main reason behind my decision to be a stay at home mom – to be there for my boys and create memories to last a lifetime – so they can come home to the smell of baking cookies and a mother’s loving embrace instead of letting themselves in with a latch key. After all, what are we left with from our childhood more precious than our memories?

I don’t know if this will make them better people in the end or affect the out come of their lives but I am sure of one thing – they will have warm memories of their childhood that is slipping away even as we speak.

I guess I should practice what I preach and be content with the basic, simple things in life. The only thing is I think with the changing times I need to redefine the needs of my own family and decide what I should be aspiring for now.

Although the role of the stay-at-home mother has suited me quite well over the years, I feel the time has come for me to find a new title. I may never achieve a grander success than what I claim to have accomplished with my kids but that point is still undecided.

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