Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Boring Housewife

I've been thinking a lot lately about some of the myths that exist in our society. For instance, I'm a Mormon so I must be naive, white, suburban and have little knowledge of the world. I'm overweight so I must be depressed, self-deprecating and hate my body. I'm a stay-at-home mother so my life must be dull, colorless, monotonous and boring. Movies tell me this; television tells me this; magazines tell me this. If I cared at all what society thought of me, I'd be an unhappy person indeed. But, reality never is as simple or stereotypical as movies portray it to be.

My life and I are much more complex than that. I'm a Mormon who grew up moving from country to country where most of my friends were decidedly not suburban, white or even American. Although my weight isn't what it once was, I'm a generally happy person and I can still see the beauty in me when I look in the mirror. And, let me just say now for the record that being a stay-at-home mother is anything but boring. Boring never happens to me. Sometimes I wish it would. My days are filled with glorious chaos and messes and children who say things like, "I'm a superhero princess and I'm saving my kingdom." Not boring.

It got me to thinking about how these myths came to be. I can't even count how many movies I've seen where the boring naive subservient housewife realizes how bored, naive and subservient she is and only finds fulfillment by leaving behind her overbearing husband and nagging children. It seems like we are ever faced with story after story of women whose lives aren't really meaningful until they break out of the confines of motherhood. Who makes these movies anyway? Women who have been stay-at-home mothers and have now "seen the light" that it was all a waste of time? Who are their subject matter experts? Is there some stay-at-home mom they've hired as a consultant to tell them how it really is? No, because most SAMs (stay-at-home mothers) are busy teaching, feeding, listening to, and taking care of their children. In other words, they're not sitting around bored.

I have to add here that I'm not saying being a mother is easy...at all. It is hard work, but that's my point. It's work, and it's filled with never ending surprises and chaos. So, whatever it is, it 'aint boring. For some reason I think it makes people (and I mean people who believe these myths) feel better to think that someone like me must be so miserable and unfulfilled. Or maybe they just have no idea how much is involved in taking care of little children who can't take care of themselves yet. A good friend of mine told me recently that her husband asked her, "Why don't you get a job? It's not like you're doing anything sitting here all day." I won't say the word that popped in my head when she told me he'd said that. But, it shows that he obviously has never spent 24 hours taking care of a 3 year-old boy and a newborn baby (who's nursing by the way.) I doubt my friend is doing much sitting around at all, and I'm pretty sure if you asked her to describe her life, "boring" wouldn't be the adjective she chooses.

So to all you fulfilled, self-actualized, educated, intelligent, talented, interesting, fun and busy housewives out there, just remember that even if they don't make a movie about your life, or your name isn't in lights, you don't make the big bucks or get an annual bonus, your work goes unappreciated, and you're misunderstood -- at least your life isn't boring! And there are little people who are growing up secure and loved knowing you are always there for them.


Melissa said...

Love it! Thanks Kim!

Tammy said...

Amen sista!
Even now with older kids (15 & 13) life doesn't slow down. Granted I fill my days with volunteering at school and my afternoon/evenings with taxi driving, homework and cooking - the tasks change but the ciaos does not.
I wouldn't change this job for anything. Sure the gratitude doesn't come in everyday, but there are those few precious moments when you feel like you matter - and that's enough to tie us over until the next bout of gratefulness.
We're moms. We don't need much. We have a God-given talent to see that our efforts are not in vain. We know that every nose wiped and backpacked picked up DOES make a difference.
My kids know that I am here for them ALWAYS. I am blessed to be able to be at home and I wouldn't change it for anything (not even a nicer vacation).
Thanks for taking a stand for all of us - we've got to stick together :)

L. said...

You are a good essayist, Kim. That blog should be printed in a national magazine! I'm pretty sure the purveyors of that idea are guilt-ridden men and women too lazy or self-centered to do a good job of child-rearing.

And right now I know a mom of two who is "fulfilling" herself by creating a fabulous new toy sensation, flying around the world meeting important producers and chain-store managers, whose two little children are rapidly self-destructing in the most tragic ways. Sure, Dad stays home, but he is watching TV, not nurturing kids. Someday she may ask herself if the millions of dollars and heaps of fame were worth a pregnant teenage girl, and a drug-addicted boy in jail. Or dead.