Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Not such a desperate housewife

A FRIEND recently asked me to think about all the simple things which make me happy.

I wasn't allowed to come up the obvious, such as pay day (which isn't really that happy an occasion anyway as it's all spent almost as soon as it transfers its merry way into the bank account) or holidays in the sun (which I rarely get). It had to be more subtle than that- just those wee things which can happen quite frequently and make you smile.
It soon became obvious to me that ideally I should be living in 1955. You see the first thing which popped into my head was that I always feel lovely and happy when the wee man is in bed, the dishes are done, floors mopped and hoovered and the tumble drier and washing machine are gently humming in the background. (Or rattling and screeching as the case may be- my washing machine having finally reaching breaking point with the copious amounts of baby sick and poop forced upon it over the last two years.)
Second only to that is cooking a proper dinner (one with spuds and everything) and serving it up to the two men in my life and seeing them devour it. Fair enough, himself would eat food three days out of date so is probably not the best judge of culinary excellence, but nonetheless I like it when he proclaims his dinner was lovely.
In my continuing mission to learn to cook something more complicated that pasta and sauce, this week I even bought a brand-spanking new casserole dish to cook a variety of hearty home cooked meals. (We are officially trying to banish Potato Smilies from our freezer). I felt stupidly happy chopping my carrots, onions, mushrooms and beef to make my delicious (even if I say so myself) stew. All that was missing was a glass or two of wine- an essential ingredient when I'm on a cooking extravaganza.
As I set the table and plonked the wee man in his high chair, I realised that all this fighting for equality in the workplace etc. was really a load of old nonsense.
Perhaps we could all be that little bit happier living out our little lives cooking casseroles, mopping floors and polishing our brasses? (Afterall, as my dad recently asked out much to our smutty minded merriment when was the last time you saw a woman giving her brasses a good polish?).
There would be none of this struggling to fight off the mad advances of a toddler with octopus like arms who wants to play "Hide and Seek" while you get dressed/ change his nappy/ make the breakfast/ do all three at the same time each morning.
We wouldn't have to come in the door from a long day at the office to be greeted with the breakfast dishes still languishing by the sink- the Weetabix now congealed into a substance it takes bleach, acid and a pneumatic drill to shift- and a basket load of washing and ironing waiting for your attention. (Of course those who have actually met me will scoff at such a suggestion that I would ever contemplate ironing in the evening- but you get the general picture.)
Yes, I went to university and got my qualifications and have spent the last seven years building up a career to be that wee bit proud of. But there are times, and I'm yet to meet a working mother who doesn't feel this way, when we want to shout: "I've got stretchmarks, get me out of here!"

Can he fix it?
How lovely would it be to get up at the morning and just play with our children in our jammies until we were ready to get dressed? We could sit and cuddle watching Bob the Builder (or Dod the Duilder as Joseph calls it) for an hour, or read our books together 10 times before getting up and getting on with the housework.
Dinner would always be a home-cooked affair (we may actually succeed in the aforementioned Potato Smiley mission) and bath time (for the baby- not me!) would be more than a five minute dip in the water before being hurled at lightning speed into the cot from the far side of the room so mammy can get on with the washing.
And I would, of course, be a yummy mummy who dressed in floaty, trendy clothes, had sun-kissed hair and who smelled like a mix of home-made perfume and fresh baked cookies. It would be a far cry indeed from the harassed journalist who wades into the office every morning with bags under her eyes and a lump of weetabix or mashed banana stuck to the arse of her trousers and spends the first 10 minutes of her working day just catching her breath from the morning rush.
I am, however, willing to accept that this may simply be a case of thinking that the grass is always greener on the other side. Much as I love my son, and indeed have grown quite fond of Bob the Builder and his crew (I even know most of their names!): spending all day, every day lost in domestic "bliss" may well send me on a one way trip to the mad house.
If I'm honest too, much as I love seeing my house clean and tidy, there is a certain simple happiness in seeing the words I have written appear in print, or even better than that the first smile of the evening when I walk out of the office door to the car to be greeted with that huge smile from my son.
I think what we ideally need to do is wind the clock back a bit and find that happy medium being having it all and doing it all.

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