“You’ve got to be shitting me. Seriously, put a video of your day on Youtube and send me the link. ‘Cause I don’t believe it.”
That’s what my friend Rebecca (“Rebar”) in Chicago had to say when I described my new life as the species known as ”Domina Domesticatum Americanus.”
I am a housewife.
About 6 months ago Jay finally got the opportunity he’s been dreaming of his entire life. Working from home, writing comedy full-time. Cracked.com’s new owners dissolved the on-site office, allowing all the editors to work remotely, plus he was doing contract work for a video game company. “That’s no fair!” I said when I heard the news, “I wanna work from home, too!”
“I bet,” Jay replied, “but what exactly would you, you know…do?”
“I…I could take care of the house? Yeah, and I could start working out, so I’d be skinny again. And I’d walk the dog every day. And I’d be able to make you lots of delicious, time-consuming meals…”
“Are you sure you just don’t want to not work anymore?”
“…and I’d do it all dressed as Wonder Woman! Every day!”
Sensing a chance to quit my day job (Jay was working TWO jobs, so we didn’t need the money, right?) I began throwing out all sorts of ridiculous promises and crafting elaborate scenarios about how great life would be if I was home all day. It wasn’t that I hated my current job, a long-term temping position at a real-estate office in mid-town Manhattan…it was just that I didn’t LIKE it. And quite frankly, when it comes to employment, I’ve been spoiled rotten most of my adult life.
I never had a regular 9-5, Monday-Friday day job until I was 29. This is the part where you start hating me, so now’s a good time to hone your pitchforks and pick out the best rotten tomatoes to throw. I started working as a “Radio Personality” when I was 18, and spent the next decade with a 20 hour-a-week work schedule that allowed plenty of time to get into the type of retarded adventures that are so excruciatingly detailed elsewhere on this site.
However, after 10 years of radio I lost any passion I’d had for the field, and somewhere in there I fell in love with this funny Canadian fellow living in Los Angeles. I quit the music biz, put the contents of my filthy apartment into storage, and made my way to sunny California. From there we moved to New York, where I finally had to get the type of mind-numbingly boring, “yes, you have to wake up before noon and no, you can’t wear pajamas into work” office job that everyone else my age has.
Basically, I was a spoiled little whining monkey that despised everything the majority of the country puts up with to survive. So when I saw a chance to stay home all day and sleep in as late as I wanted? Hell yes, I wanted in on that gravy train. But Jay was naturally (and rightfully) suspicious.
“Are you SURE you’re not just trying to stay home and sleep all day? Because I’m actually gonna be working, you know. Two jobs. You can’t sit on the couch eating cheetos and watching soaps the whole time.”
“No! I promise! I hate television! I’ll clean the house, and do…stuff. And things! It’ll be awesome. If I don’t stick with it, I swear to god you can plop my ass right back on the street corner.”
Jay finally agreed to “the experiment,” as I referred to it. It started out great. I got up every morning and took the dog for a walk. Came home and made Jay a hot lunch (not a euphemism). Washed dishes and went to the laundromat. Researched delicious recipes and made wholesome dinners every night.
That lasted about a week.
Lovingly crafted lunches of homemade soup and freshly baked bread quickly devolved into baloney sandwiches and finally ”I’m catching up on my webcomics, but I think there’s a little bit of peanut butter and some mostly not-too-stale saltines in the cupboard.” Jay had his doubts about our arrangement at this point, exacerbated by the growing realization that two people and a dog spending the entire day in a 400 square foot New York apartment tends to get just a teensy LOT smothering at some point.
Luckily for me (and I guess Jay), soon after that the video game company offered him a full-time gig, and we headed off to Seattle. Jay now works in an office where he’s not bothered by his wife coming in every ten minutes to ask “Soooo…whatcha working on?” or doing the “Look at me!” dance (it’s exceptionally annoying, I’ve been told), and I’ve got the apartment to myself. A night owl by both nature and 10 years of job-related conditioning, I’ve solved a couple of problems by forcing myself to stay on East Coast time. With my body convinced it’s really well after 10am, I wake up at 7:30 every morning, make Jay coffee, pack his lunch (still not a euphemism), feed the dogs and start cleaning up the house. I do laundry and dishes, and then around 10:30 take Orwell and Edison to the park for a couple of hours. The rest of the afternoon I have to myself.
I’m a fucking housewife. And it’s AWESOME.
When I first told my friend Abbie that I was quitting my job to be a housewife, her reaction wasn’t “How can you degrade your gender like that,” but total jealousy. “Oh, man. I’d LOVE to spend my day cleaning my house and cooking. I never have time to do that.” Which got me thinking. Women of my generation were told from an early age how lucky we are to have more options than cooking, cleaning, and taking care of babies. Which is true. It would be awful not to have a choice other than that. But at the same time, being a housewife is the original “Be your own boss, work from home” job. And isn’t that what everyone allegedly wants? Certainly seems popular according to all those Herbalife and “Make big bucks doing medical billing” ads I see. Rather than thinking men are keeping us bitches down, I’ve started wondering if the dudes just don’t know what they’re missing.
I set my own schedule. Sometimes I do the household chores first thing in the morning, other times I make Jay’s lunch then go back to bed for a couple hours. I should state right here that for a lot of women, housewivery is HARD. Depending on your situation, it can be a full-time, grueling job that would make my clock-watching at the real-estate office look like a happy, petunia scented vacation. That said, I’ve got a dishwasher and washer/dryer in the apartment. I order all our groceries online and have them delivered (Safeway.com is the BOMB). We don’t have kids, so I don’t have diapers to change, or homework to help with. My biggest chore is making sure the dogs aren’t ripping our furniture or each other apart, and maybe sewing them some Halloween costumes (Batman and Robin, most likely) if I’m feeling adventurous. If I get bored, I’ve got plenty of time to do volunteer work or something. I could go hold crack-babies at the hospital, or hand out orange juice at blood drives.
Hahahahaha. No, honestly, I could do that.
And trust me, I realize just how lucky I am.
Rebar and Abbie were shocked, and if you’ve gone through the previously mentioned archives of this site, I’m sure you are too, that drunken rock-chick Karla would end up so domesticated. Hell, I’m shocked myself.
Women aren’t expected to be satisfied being housewives anymore. We’re supposed to want more, do more, achieve more. At the same time, we’re told to recognize that if we DO choose to be housewives, it’s a very difficult and worthy job. And I agree with all that. But at this point, I’m starting to think being a housewife might be this totally awesome secret women have been keeping from the guys the whole time. Granted, I DO work hard. And I’m lucky that I’ve got a husband who appreciates that, even before I give him overly prolonged, long-suffering sighs while looking at whatever coffee stains he splattered on the kitchen counter. That said, once my work is done, I’ve got a lot of time to write meandering essays about how girls aren’t funny, and how video games are awesome, and how lucky I am to be a housewife. Plus, I can finally catch up on all my webcomics.
Being a housewife is awesome.
So anyway, those pitchforks sharp enough yet?