I have been watching the series “Mad Men” on Netflix. You have to excuse me, I tend to be a few years behind on the TV series trends, but it works for me because I can watch it in one giant stream instead of weekly installments. I watched “Friday Night Lights” the same way and it is still one I return to, but I don’t think it would have the same impact if I had watched it week to week.
In “Mad Men”, the men are in charge, it is the 60’s, but Gloria Steinem would be okay with it because the women are strong and making headway in the man’s world. Unfortunately, one of the themes I see that may not have been in the producer’s minds is the idea of balance for women. Being a working woman, and a mom, and a wife is a juggling act that looks a lot easier than it truly is. And no offense, but men don’t have it. There are great dads out there, who help out their wives, look after their kids, do the dishes. But those dads don’t have the generations of guilt behind them. No one compares them to June Cleaver who vacuumed the house in her pearls and heels. And although no one compares me to June either, I do enough comparing for everyone. Why don’t I have the warm cookies on a plate when the kids get home from school? Why isn’t everything homemade and served at a perfectly set table? Why does my house have stuff ( and I mean stuff – most doesn’t even have a designated space) sitting around it all the time? Why can’t I get it all together and decorate for Easter on top of that? What is wrong with me?!?
Nothing. Not a damn thing. I just have too many titles and expectations for myself. I am still a mom and housewife, but have added breadwinner and corporate diva to the title. (Well maybe not corporate diva, I am not that driven) It rips me apart. It creates a situation where I am grateful for my parents because they remember and retell stories from my kid’s childhood while I listen and think, “When did this happen? Was I there?’. I don’t remember because I was so busy wearing all the hats, I forgot to pay attention. And sometimes it really pisses me off. (Sorry mom, not a great word choice, but it does piss me off) Actually it pisses me off a lot. Now they are teenagers and don’t want to play Shoots and Ladders or Sorry! with me. They want to hide in their rooms. Away from me. And I feel like I missed it.
This is for Stacie because she posted today that she was not going to let herself be overcome. I know what she means. She has an incredible husband. He’s my brother and I know from experience that he is an excellent roommate and caregiver. He loves watching their daughter grow up, because he really did miss his older daughter hit various milestones. That’s what divorce does. So it isn’t that relationship she is fighting against. I think it is just life. The overwhelming mess that is being a woman in the 21st century. Nike did not help women out with the “Be All That You Can Be” slogan. They just made it harder. They added more expectations. Live up to your potential! And it can’t be to learn to vacuum the living room in high heels like June, it should be more, it should make a difference. What we have missed is that June Cleaver made a difference. I am using her as a reference. You don’t use nobodies as reference points. And what was wrong with creating a home, a place that people could feel safe and loved? It doesn’t seem enough anymore, but maybe the real issue is that the simple things aren’t complicated enough. If you don’t work hard at it, it must not be worth anything.
Stacie, we all work at letting go. Not getting worked up about the fact that dinner isn’t perfectly balanced with carbs, protein, and fruit or vegetable. Letting the laundry sit one more day because you still have some clean underwear. Ignoring the dust bunnies that chase you out of the bedroom. Because to ignore them, to let go of the perfect housewife routine means that you have time to watch your kids play ball, or dig in the dirt, or pick dandelions. It means you can relax and have your cup of coffee, truly enjoying it and that quiet moment when there are no expectations, without the guilt.