Thursday, December 4, 2008

Harsh Reality

I DO intend to blog more than once every month... but alas, I've been failing at that task. Here is a Prose piece I recently wrote which is appearing in the December 2008 issue of Parent:Wise Austin magazine. This is the original piece, the one in the magazine has been touched-up by editor extraordinaire, Kim Pleticha. The magazine also features a great illustration by the insanely talented Aaron Romo, Illustrator-at-Large for P:WA. - Nisa

Harsh Reality:

“It took some doing, but I finally yanked that pesky toof out!” My daughter plops a giant, bloody molar into my hands and throws herself down next to me on the couch. She grins from ear to ear, pink toilet paper shoved into the left side of her smile.

“Wow! Cool…” I mock enthusiasm for the thing now sitting lop-sided and bloody in my hand.

Who would have thought when that wondrous first tooth came through, on Mother’s Day, of all days that after nine years and with two kids that teeth would finally bore me? Having a bloody bone bit plunked into my hand time and again, just because I am the Mom, well… that’s the kind of thing that is never boring and always disgusting. Makes me wonder what they would do should a toe suddenly fall off…

“I guess you’ll have more tooth-fairy money for the weekend, huh?”

The bloody grin becomes very serious, and my nine-year-old confesses: “Um, Mom – about that… see I don’t think the tooth-fairy is, you know, real and stuff.” She winces as she says it, and so do I, but the difference is my experienced poker face reveals no guilt, no shock, and no disappointment, though I’m feeling them all in spades.

“Oh?” I ask, a little too curiously, I think it gives me away.

“Yeah…” she’s obviously hiding something.

“Why is that, Honey? Did someone at school say something?” I could just strangle that one girl with the teenage older sister who is always telling the kids what is what!

“Yes, but also, I did a test.” (My logician) “See, I lost a tooth last week and didn’t tell you.” (I’m nodding, still revealing no shock at this sneaky girl) “And the tooth-fairy never came, so now I don’t believe in her.”

“But… what about all those times she DID come… don’t those count?”

“Of course, it felt good to think about earning money for my lost teeth.” (She is her father) “But really, thinking about some sort of human-bug thingy flying around my room is kinda creepy. And I have figured out that it was you coming in and putting money under my pillow.”

She has a dead-pan face. She’s always been older than her years. She once told me that she sometimes felt that she was the Mom and I was the daughter. Right now, I’d like to trade, because while she is handling this with such poise, I’m a blubbering gelatinous mass inside, ready to shake her back into innocence.

“Hmmm, so that’s it then? You just don’t believe?” She nods her head. “Okay, but just so you know, I confess to nothing – oh, and if you don’t believe in the tooth-fairy, then she doesn’t believe in you, which means no more money.” The wise one bites her bottom lip a bit.

“Okay, I guess that makes sense.” She really IS growing up.

“And I want all the tooth-fairy money you HAVE earned back!” I say, poking her in the ribs.

“MOM!” she sing-songs, letting me know I’m being ridiculous. Then she grabs my face, “Mom, you seem sad, do you need a hug?”

As we are squeezing it out, my husband comes in. “Hey girls, what are you two talking about?”

“Oh,” says my daughter, in a completely casual way, “I was just telling Mom that I’m too old to believe in the tooth-fairy.” My wonderful man looks at her, then me, then back to her.

“Okay – well… I guess you have to grow-up sometime.” He checks my face once more.

“And just so both of you know,” the girl stands to make a big announcement, “I know all about Santa Claus, too – and don’t worry, I won’t ruin it for my brother.”

I mock a huge faint into the couch with a loud squeal of disbelief!

“Are you happy now?” Her Daddy hugs her with tiny tears in his own eyes, “You’ve just killed your Mother.”

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Reflections on Change:

It’s kind of like breaking up with your boyfriend. You feel like crying, but you are more angry than sad. You feel justified and “in the right”. You can’t turn on the radio or TV without them reminding you of him and your mad/sad feelings. You have a stone in the pit of your stomach.

This is disappointment. Disappointment mixed with worry. I know this feeling very well.

I should start with full disclosure – I am a Democrat. With the exception of when I was wee, I always have been, having said that, in the 2000 primary races, I voted for John McCain to be the Republican candidate. I like John McCain.

This is also why I’m so familiar with that feeling – disappointment describes how I have felt about this country, its Executive administration, and its Legislative branch, for about eight years now.

And its why I’m here to give you the “cheer-up” speech that I never got. Cheer UP! I know its hard, because you believed in this guy, and his gal pal. You feel strongly about the same things they feel strongly about. You are a little worried that my crowd might just ruin everything for everyone…

But I’m begging you – that’s right – BEGGING you to give my guy a chance.

Please keep in mind that we didn’t vote AGAINST your guy, and we didn’t vote AGAINST what your guy feels strongly about. In fact, many of us feel strongly about those same things too!

This is an extremely intelligent guy (way smarter than me, and I think the world of myself!) who cares deeply about our country. He has spent his life helping the downtrodden, and he has done it without a huge family fortune or the benefit of a father who was also President. It may be hard to believe, because this contest has been SO divided and SO bitter, but my guy is a lot like you and me. He has a family, he was raised in a single-parent household, he goes to church (yes, a Christian church) and he loves the United States of America.

Heck, many of us didn’t even vote for our guy exactly, but in what he stands for. He stands for the American Dream – the pick yourself up by the bootstraps one. He stands for Hope. He stands for Youth, and he stands for Change.

It’s kind of like when you’ve got a cold, and you take that same old nighttime shivering sneezing stuffy-head fever so you can sleep medicine… but you find that it just isn’t doing the trick… so you go to Walgreens and buy something new, perhaps the cheaper, generic brand, maybe with some expectorant in it… and then lo and behold – you feel better!

Sometimes, change can be just what we need to get the junk out of our chest.

Look, I’m not sure if his change will be the change that works, but something different is definitely better than more of the same.

This is a historical time. I know that isn’t of comfort to you, but find solace in the notion that you’ve witnessed living history. And know that the historical value or your ticket was not lost on any of us either. What an amazing time to be a citizen of this Country! Anyway you sliced it, it would have been an astounding historical moment.

Your guy is a great guy. I really and truly mean that. I like your guy, and I know he would have also done his best to help this country stand up again.

All I’m asking is that you give my guy a chance.

And speaking from experience, even when you resign to give my guy a chance, and I know you are not just doing it because I asked so nicely, which I appreciate… even when you decide to give my guy a chance, you will remain skeptical. It’s okay, these feelings are normal. You will remain on the fence about actually liking the guy. That’s fine… as long as you have actually climbed up from the other side, and are sitting on the fence watching the show – that is good enough for me.

Please DO remain wary. Please DO continue to contact your Congressman and Senator. Please DO start emailing the White House. Please DO gather your friends and start a grass-roots movement to work for something you believe in. Please DO! This is what Democracy is all about, and we cannot be a Democratic society without dissention and dissatisfaction.

Tell my guy what you don’t like. Tell him you don’t want to pay higher taxes. Tell him you don’t want to be laid-off of work because of a tanking economy. Tell him what you think. Tell him!

And get ready to work. Because sitting on our butts and not doing anything to grease the wheels of this wagon is not going to get us anywhere.Like my guy or loathe him… Happy about things or worried… Ready or not for what comes next… Just do it… Stand up and make some noise!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Catch Up Photos!

I've been very lazy about photos lately! (bad mom!) But here is a good section so everyone can catch up on the lives of my children (growing just too fast!!!).

Zooey says it all in this lovely ensemble just right for the Fall. Here we visit one of our favorite (and most picturesque) spots in Texas, the Dallas Arboretum. What luck that Grammie lives very nearby and is a member! Here we see the hard work that goes into their annual pumpkin patch! So beautiful - and the pumpkin landscape is not bad either!

Grammie never misses a chance to pose with the grandkids. Ike and Zooey had so much fun this day!

While in Dallas, we attended the Texas State Fair. That was lots and lots of fun and featured the nation's biggest Ferris Wheel. Impressive and not scary. The entire family shared a "bucket". It was fun for everyone and highly recommended... all the foods on a stick were a little too fried for me, but the first bites were good nonetheless.

At our favorite hang-out spot (It's A Grind Coffeehouse in Cedar Park), Ike discovers for the first time that his Mom is a cheater... I myself can't believe it has taken him six years to figure this out!

In the center, in the maroon shirt with the curly hair, you will find Zooey, working out with the dancers from Ballet Austin. I've continued to be an annual supporter of the ballet for several several years now, and here we see the rewards. The kids were tired this day, but a little bit o' ballet perked them right up. Just look at the joy on her face!

My red belts attended their first "Karate Olympics" at their own karate studio. Here, Zooey shows us her third place medal for sparring. She was the only girl sparring in her division. She is quite proud of the results.

Here, Zooey is even happier, showing her first place trophy for freesyle weapons kata. She demonstrated her Bo Staff, which is a long stick (taller than her) and is used like a baton, or for the nerds - like Darth Sidious' double ended light saber. She worked for two weeks on a routine, and her hard work earned her a trophy (which she cradled for the rest of the day!)

Here we see both my little champion red belts, pleased as punch with themselves! Ike earned a second place medal for his freestyle weapons kata - he demonstrated nun-chuks quite fantastically - and he earned a first place trophy for speed-kicking by side kicking the bag 52 times in one minute. They are my little grasshoppers, as their Grandpa so eloquently put it.

So that is the update for now. I promise there will be more soon.

- Nisa

Monday, October 13, 2008

Naked Without My Eyebrows - Reflections on Posing as a 1950s Housewife

Turns out I'm kind of sensitive about my balding eyebrows. I've never been the "girly-girl" type, but after spending so much time with myself over the past two weeks, I've come to the realization that there are simply not that many hairs left on the thin parts of those brows! Oh, but I guess I've always known my eyebrows were a weak spot of the fortress of my beauty...

There is so much to say about the past two weeks, and I hate rambling on and on, so I will try to be as concise as possible.

My friend Cindi asked me what I liked most about the experiment. My answer was thoughtful and sweet - "I like the way my Dear Husband notices how good I smell and how nice I look. It is as if he has really shown me more affection than usual. I like having him kiss me and smell me and look approvingly at me." Then she asked what I disliked most about the experiment. My answer was short and sweet - "Everything else." But Cindi knows what I know - which is the truth is way more complex than all that.

Let's start with what I did not like. What did I NOT like? This is a difficult question to answer.

I didn't necessarily like the volume of child-related chores which are usually split between Jon and I but I LIKED making sure my children were clean and cared for.

I had difficulty with the timing of after-school activities and the end of the day chores (cooking, freshening myself up, making a cocktail) but I LIKED being able to provide a clean, quiet, well-managed household for my Husband to come home to. I LIKED watching him relax for a change after a hard day's work.

I also became increasingly uncomfortable spending so much time on my personal appearance and smell but I LIKED the way my Husband began flirting with me again, after so much time - it was almost as if we were in college again.

I wasn't crazy about feeling so subservient most of the time, but I LIKED going with the flow of things and just being basically an employee for a while instead of upper management.

It was nearly impossible to keep my smart-ass mouth shut and instead let a sweet, polite voice speak all of the time, but I LIKED the way people reacted to someone who was easy to get along with all of the time.

Now what did I LIKE about the experiment, also a difficult question to answer.

I liked having the day begin with clockwork and a sense of organized accomplishment, but I DISLIKED rising so early and having grumpy sleepy heads curse my very existence.

I liked looking nice for a change and ditching the t-shirts for awhile, but I DISLIKED the fear of not being pretty enough or clean enough for people's expectations. PLUS, I disliked calling attention to myself by looking clean and nice in my little world of existence where slackerism and casual are king.

I liked how my kids pitched in on chores, but I DISLIKED hearing them beg me over and over, day after day, to stop being 1950s Housewife and be normal mommy again. This one is self-explanatory and the reason the experiment was an experiment and not a lifestyle change.

I liked how the house looked and felt, but I DISLIKED how that look and feeling lasted only until the children returned at 3:00, at which time, the twister motion of their beings set things back on their regular tilt again.

Jon said many times that he felt useless throughout, and I tried to remind him about how useful he was - at the office. Turns out, he ENJOYS being my partner... and even when I begged him not to, he was sneaking around, behind my back, getting a few of my chores done. He has mentioned that he has enjoyed a vacation from some of his usual chores, but he really doesn't care for subservient Nisa, which is why I punched him in the crotch first thing this morning, just to let him know his punk rock babe was back online.

I have to say - I like taking more responsibility for the household chores as well, and will probably continue to make more and more of an effort to keep things running smoothly - beyond just the rearing of the children, my previous most important task. We have already talked about getting a chore schedule and chart up for each family member and also figuring out how we can share cooking duties. This weekend, we restocked all the cleaning supplies we needed, and this afternoon, I power-washed the back porch.

And I've stowed away the make-up and perfume. But not the eyebrow liner... that one may have to stay. I think I'm entitled to it. It really is best for the world that we live in if MY eyebrows are completely filled in. After all, it's the polite thing to do.

- Nisa Sharma (formerly Mrs. Porter, but still married to Jon!)

The 1950s Experiment Ends

I'm sitting here in my Monday T-shirt (a green classic tee with a yoga buddha and its golden aura - from Old Navy) wearing my favorite thong (sorry Dad) and my best cut-off jean shorts that I decorated myself with Union Jack patches.

I have no perfume on, no lip gloss, and no eyeliner.

I told my family to get their own damn breakfast.

I am myself again (well, I would never really say that to the kids, Jon yes, but not the kids) and it feels weird. I need time to process the past two weeks and write up the evaluation. Please excuse me and grant me a little bit of time to write something in conclusion of the experiment.

I hope to post it this evening or tomorrow.

THANKS for reading!

- Nisa

Thursday, October 9, 2008

1950s Housewife - Days Ten and Eleven

Well - day ten came and went without incident. It was just one of those harmonious days that moves like liquid from thing to thing. I had a number of 21st century chores to do for the magazine, and then the kids had a half day at school, which allowed us to spend some quality time and run some important errands. Then it was off to after-school classes and cooking dinner, having the kids take out the trash, and then putting them to bed. I'm sure Dear Husband was in the mix there somewhere, but its hard to recall when a day runs so smoothly.

Oh yes, now I remember, Dear Husband had a hard time keeping his hands off the trash. It is typically his chore to do, and he jumped up when he heard me give the task to the children. I begged him to sit down and keep his hands off the trash, but he's really feeling useless during this experiment... his retort was, "1950s husbands took out the trash!" Since he insisted, what could I say? He was very helpful, and oh so handsome.

Today is Day Eleven, and doing all this work is becoming routine. I noted last night, however, that the extra chores have made my favorite chore my least favorite chore right now. When we married, we agreed on a sharing of work at dinner - The person who cooks shall not clean. Well, during this experiment, I do all the cooking, all the time, and I also clean. I used to love the relaxing zen nature of cleaning the kitchen after dinner, whilst my husband got the kids clean and put them to bed. It had a natural order... NOW, I'm cooking for an hour in the hot kitchen, serving everyone before sitting myself down, clearing the table and getting the dishes organized and soaking, running upstairs to dry bodies, brush and braid hair, read books and get the kids down, and then running back downstairs to wash the dishes... it is simply exhausting and is a block of tasks that SHOULD be shared.

Tonight, Dear Husband has told me he will be going to a movie with a friend, which is fine with me. It allows me to make a simple meal for the kids and enjoy left-overs myself and perhaps I can watch a girly show on the television...

- Mrs. P

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

1950s Housewife - Day Nine

My Mom said the patio charcoal grill became hugely popular in the late 1950s, and so Dear Husband will be grilling chicken tonight. Don't worry, I'm doing EVERYTHING else, he literally has to get the grill going, slap the chicken on, turn it once, and bring it inside - that is all. I am very excited about him "sharing" the duties tonight.

I made a great Pot Roast yesterday - even the boy (who can find something each meal to complain about) loved it, although not the carrots. The girl (who is vegetarian) also enjoyed the potatoes and carrots over rice with her soy chicken. I was very excited - it was my first pot roast and it came out exactly as I wanted.

It is these small victories I'm enjoying during this experiment - like rediscovering the iron and spray starch and finding a certain zen in sweeping the kitchen floor. The hum of the laundry and the look of sparkling kitchen counter tops. The welcoming look of a taught, just made up bed. Being able to locate the television remote, with just a glance from across the house because it is where it should be... Uh-oh... I think it is happening - I'm becoming a neatnik zombie!

This, I'm sure, will be welcome news to my Dear Husband. We will see how life progresses next week, when I'm no longer living in the 1950s.

- Mrs. P

Monday, October 6, 2008

1950s Housewife - Day Eight begins

The weekend was a marvelous way to spend time with Dear Husband and Lovely Children. The Honey-Do list was completed, and Dear Husband did not make too big a mess when he made pizza for Sunday football. The children and I were able to complete some errands and grocery yesterday whilst Dear Husband watched his team - I enjoy taking the children out of the house during this time, so as to limit their exposure to the colorful language Dear Husband sometimes uses. Thankfully, his team won, and he was in a good mood for the rest of the day.

After spending so much family time, however, my "to-do" list seems a little bit long today. I need to get going on it soon. First, some observations from the first week of the experiment:
  • Girdles emphasize back fat. There, I've said it. Look - these undergarments, throwbacks to the dark ages when women needed to be imprisoned within their own clothes, do amazing things for my waistline and are great at minimizing less desirable frontal areas... but they DO emphasize and area that naturally downplays itself without the undergarment. That pesky back-fat hangs over the top - not unlike the muffin-top one gets when one squeezes into an old (and no longer well-fitting) pair of jeans. So you get a muffin-top, but its in the middle of your back!!! Its gross - I hate it... I've eliminated the mid-drift girdle because of it, and I'm only now wearing the one that starts at my belly-button.
  • Make-up gives me zits... big, gross, painful ones.
  • The dishes are NEVER done... ever... I'm convinced there is a dish dragon lurking within the kitchen somewhere, and as soon as I step away from a clean, empty sink, it comes out and dirtys just one spoon and goes back into a cupboard, giggling... stupid dragon!
  • Cooking and thinking about cooking and trying to be healthy - oh, and incorporating the one vegetarian in the family into the mix is challenging and hard and not in a good way. This is probably the most taxing task on the list.
  • I know myself, and I now know that I would never, ever be successful at this experiment if either of the children were younger and still at home during the day... I just don't see how it would be possible with one or even both of them still at home and really too young to help with the chores (they've been great helpers) and needing more of my attention.
  • Where does all this dust come from? I mean really?!?
  • I will never look around at a semi-clean house and think it is clean again... not after what I've seen, not after I know how much cleaner it can be.
  • Why do boys miss the potty? How hard can it be to hit the water? I don't understand.

- Mrs. P

Saturday, October 4, 2008

1950s Housewife - Day Six

My Dearest Husband -
If it is to your liking and works into your schedule this weekend, please do the following tasks for me. I cannot possibly do them as well as a big, strong man can. Thank you. Sincerely - Your Loving Wife
  • Hang the new hammock in the backyard. *I know you can do it without letting our neighbors know that you have a vocabulary that can sometimes come in handy if you are ever with the sailors down on the docks.*
  • Refill the bird feeders and rehang them. *I so admired the way you took them down before the big storm and how brave you were when surrounded by the swarm of hornets who had taken up residence in one of the feeders - please dispose of any hornet carcasses left behind.*
  • Dig up the Summer Garden. *What a great season it was - with the tomatoes really growing in like thunder! I know that next year will be the year your award-winning casabas grow in nice and round - sorry they were used as bowling balls by the boy this time around... perhaps he can help you dig it up today?
  • Speaking of the boy, do you think you can get him out of the house for just a little errand or something this weekend? Anything will do. It is just a small request from your daughter and myself for a moment of peace in the household.
Thank you for doing these chores, Dear Husband. You are so very busy and intellectually engaged during the week - it really does a body good to do some manual labor on the weekend. It is no wonder that you continue to inspire me with your good looks and strong arms. Let me know if you need a glass of iced lemonade at any point during these chores, my love.

Friday, October 3, 2008

1950s Housewife - Day Five

Yesterday was a quiet day - I had a meeting with my magazine staff, and I got all gussied up for it. We did our chore very quickly and I headed back home. Really just grocery was the key job for yesterday, so it wasn't nearly as busy of any of the previous days.

And the truth is, I'm getting bored. I think that the family has fallen into acceptance of this experiment and the way I'm "serving" everyone, and this has lulled us all into this dull hum of the way things are going. I realize the novelty of my strange behavior has worn off, but I'm also not willing to allow this to become the norm.

I have realized that I have more time in the day than I thought - which is a great outcome of this experience. And also on the plus side: the kids are required to help out around the house more, and they are doing it willingly! So I hope that doesn't go away... BUT...

But what I'm finding is that I feel I'm becoming a fixture in the house. By which I mean that while I'm cleaning and cooking and serving, conversations are happening around me but are not including me - nor would I dare contribute, as would not be polite in the 1950s unless asked to contribute, and even then, only to reiterate Dear Husband's opinion.

So being shut-off into myself, I'm becoming bored... and so today, I've been stalling on getting started on the daily chores. I think, since it is Friday, that I will share a cocktail with Dear Husband tonight. I sure do feel I've earned it.

The other strange observation I have at this point is this: I spend time on beautification of myself, and smelling nice - all for Dear Husband... and after a day of hard work and house chores, thinking of nothing but ensuring my family has it easy when they arrive home from their daily routines, and cooking over a hot stove, I then liquor Dear Husband up... and he smells me, and sees how nice I look... and he has no chores to do - so naturally, he decides he'd like to cuddle and maybe do more... but honestly - I'm exhausted. I don't see the point of being appealing to Dear Husband at the end of the day - it is not logical to me. I would much rather repel him at this point - not that I don't have passion for Dear Husband, I do, but I need him to want me when I'm well-rested.

It's almost the same as the stay-at-home mom's thoughts here, when there is a new baby in the house and Dear Husband wants to get back to "normal".

Anyway... my poor Dear Husband... he says he is feeling useless, and wants me to write up a "Honey-Do" list for the weekend, which I certainly plan to focus on today. And he forbade me from making the traditional Sunday football game pizza - as his territory, so I've shopped for the essentials, and he will be allowed in my kitchen for the first time all week on Sunday morning.

I will share the Honey-Do list and more magazine goodies on Monday - I'm planning to take a break from this future box for the weekend.

More Later - Mrs. P

Thursday, October 2, 2008

1950s Magazine Goodies

These are all from the June 21, 1954 issue of Life Magazine. The cover features a photo of the "Prettiest Chorus Girl in Las Vegas: Kim Smith" who is quite fetching in this close-up of her cute face and showgirl feather hat.

This Admiral Fridge has the freezer on the bottom! Amazing! And it can hold over 120 lbs of food! This freezer can "sharp-freeze foods and store them at 52 degrees below freezing - coldest cold ever produced in a home refrigerator unit"! (costs as low as $179.95 and never needs defrosting!)

This GE Freezer can really help out. By keeping a full storage of frozen items, you can shop only when you want to. It also has a special "Ice Cream Conditioner" that "keeps a gallon and a half of ice cream at scooping temperature!" It can hold 525 lbs of food and prices begin at only $299.95 (although model shown is $498.37). Wow, that's only about $5.04 a week!

GE again - they LOVE the Housewife! Here they try to make more out of a small kitchen space with the Big Oven Spacemaker for only $229.88 (only about $2.38 a week). It takes up 16 inches less than a 40-inch range and can hold a meal for 24! (24 what, it doesn't say). Here's an idea - use TWO Spacemakers at each end of your kitchen, "this is just one of many interesting combinations you can have with two Spacemakers."
"Never before so much of everything you've wanted - so much value in every way!"
(best ad copy ever - what else could I possibly add?)
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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

1950s Housewife - On to Day 3

I had some failures yesterday, and I'm trying to figure out why... oh, thankfully, I did sleep without making lists last night, only to be awoken at 5:30 this morning by the boy - seems he wanted to talk things over...

My chief failure yesterday was not freshening up before serving dinner. So Dear Husband had to eat with a whole day's worth of odors and hair and such - I'm sure he was disgraced... BUT, I did manage to make him a strong Vodka Martini, so he may have been unnerved by my appearance at first, but I'm sure once dinner was done, he didn't care so much - about anything anymore! Gee - I hope this two weeks doesn't turn Dear Husband into some sort of lush!

My other failure included just generally running late in the evening due to the kids' lessons. An issue we face again today. I did have dinner ready, and just needed to reheat it... but I used the microwave, which I had initially put on my list of no-nos for the experiment. Today, I'll try a different strategy...

This is what I'm finding as the toughest part of the day - juggling lessons and dinner and the self-grooming that must be involved. Going back to yesterday's comment - a 1950s housewife would not have this issue, as lessons would be done directly after school, and within walking distance for the kids to go to alone - leaving ample time for cooking, making cocktails, and beatification. But the 1950s housewife always deals with what she's got - so here I am, and I have to figure out how to make it work (or just miss lessons next week if I can't figure it out.)

I must note that in the hour and a half between homework and lessons yesterday, my Dear Daughter was able to read half a book - so I think that is a good - no great! - thing.

All this extra careful hygiene is also working my nerves. I'm someone used to my work-at-home mom uniform: t-shirt and shorts. SOMETIMES I take a shower and comb out my hair. RARELY I apply make-up. And I'm lucky to find an unsmelly, unholy bra. Look, its not like I live in squalor, I just usually find other ways to spend my time, rather than on myself. Here, I've spent more time in the last two days cleaning myself than I have doing any one other thing! I'm annoyed by it, but I'm also intrigued. It has me spending time looking at myself in the mirror - and taking stock (mostly in a good way). It also gives me time in the morning to really organize those crazy mid-night mental lists into some sort of schedule for the day.

It has also made me realize that my make-up is two years old... I think this might be yucky, but I have no context, not being a very girly sort of girl. I can't bring myself to spend any budget on anything fresh, so I will make do with blecky make-up for the rest of the experiment.

Soon, I will be adding a slide show on the right. I've found these super-excellent magazines from 1952 and 1954. They are Life and the Saturday Evening Post. I LOVE them, they really tell a story here. I'm going to be scanning and showing things I find interesting, as I have time. Today we will see ads to make my 1950s kitchen more efficient and make my life easier - which falls exactly where my problem currently lies!

Today I need to get off the future-box and get on the ball as I have a luncheon and need to work my daily chores around that appointment. I wonder what I should wear?

- Mrs. P

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

1950s Housewife - Day Two Begins!

Yesterday went well, but I have to say, I am exhausted this morning!

I think the stress I'm feeling and dreaming about and living is really interesting... I'm waking many times during the night, making "to do" lists for the next day - I'm not wanting to miss anything or do anything wrong. I am dreaming about ruining dinner or scalding a shirt while ironing, and also about missing the kids' after-school activities.

I feel like I got behind yesterday, and I got creative with my solution - hiding the laundry that did not get put away rather than get way behind on dinner. I figured - Out of Sight, Out of Mind - and if Dear Husband did not see the unfinished laundry, he would not be dismayed by the state of the house. It seemed to have worked... I know he saw the unfinished laundry, but it was at the end of the day, just before bed, so he really didn't care.

Dear Husband also enjoyed "coming home" from work to find me in a dress and apron, finishing dinner. He was also pleased when I presented him with a cold beer in a glass. I think he did get a little annerved when he asked how my day was and I turned it back to him, providing him nothing from my day. He also did not know what to do with himself while I put the children to bed (usually his job) so he went outside and watered the yard.

I liked how happy everyone was with my personal attention to each of them. I DO have to say that all the clothes and changing is ridiculous!!! Three outfits each day??? AND make-up and "undergarments"? (I miss my thongs... sorry dad, if you are reading this, but yes, I like thong panties.)

One thing of note: I'm having trouble in the late afternoon with the childrens' extra-curricular activities. I feel almost as if I should have suspended them for these two weeks to be more authentic. 1950s children would normally come home from school, have snack and do homework, and then go play with the neighborhood kids until dinnertime. Caitlin Flanagan wrote an interesting article in Atlantic Monthly in 2003 ( about exactly this contrast between the "Housewife" and the "Stay-at-Home Mom". And having been the latter for nine years now, I can DEFINITELY feel the difference, just after one day of being the former.

Okay - I've spent enough time in front of this future box - I need to shower and dress, and attend to the mending, the pets, finish yesterday's laundry chore, and get to some car maintenance details today. I've already made lasagna for dinner - so I feel I'm beginning the day ahead of the game! (We'll see how long that lasts!)

- Mrs. P

Monday, September 29, 2008

1950s Housewife - Day One

One laundry load at a time.

I awoke as "Mrs. Porter" for the first time today. I got up before everyone else and changed from my scrappy definition of pajamas and put on the proper pajamas and robe of a 1950s housewife. I DID include the proper undergarmets, including girdle... fat lot of good that did when only my daughter noticed how cute I looked!

I went downstairs only to find that we had a shocking lack of groceries in the house (note to self - don't start experiments the day after returning from a long weekend at the state fair - be more prepared next time, dummy!)

So I scrounged what I could and then went back up to awaken the family. Everyone was quite pleasant to me, and no one gave me dirty looks or too much whining (although the boy did tell me a few times that he was still sleepy, but I think I roused him enough to make it through the day.)

Fed, clothed and out the door - I was able to get laundry going, make Jon's breakfast, and do some straightening up downstairs, as well as make beds and open window shades upstairs. It is such a beautiful day today, that I am airing out the downstairs with all the windows open... the fresh air is glorious!

Then I made myself up for the day, showering, make-up (yes, make-up) and I decided that I must wear a blouse each day, NO T-SHIRTS! I'm trying to avoid my typical mom uniform all together, although I have decided that capri pants are okay until 5 pm, when Husband is scheduled to arrive back home.

So here I sit at my amazing electronic typewriter from the future, and now I will choose dinner and go grocery. All in all, not a terrible start to this silly silly experiment.

More later -
from Mrs. Jon E. Porter, Jr.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The 1950s Experiment

Okay - so I had this idea the other day, when I was feeling slovenly about my role in the household. I just feel like Jon does so much around the house, while my responsibilities largely lie with the scheduling of the children. So how about this - I will live, for two weeks, with the same responsibilities as a 1950s housewife had.
So the details are still being discussed. I've decided there should be a list of benchmarks needing to be achieved. And perhaps a list of daily duties to be checked off. Jon is looking forward to two weeks of me cooking - and I haven't quite figured out yet how I'm going to get the kids to their evening lessons and still serve a hot, fresh meal... but that is a hurdle I'm willing to face.
I'm not the first to try this - the web is littered with thousands of links belonging to women who actually adore this lifestyle and live it with glee. The difference here is that its not me, and it has absolutely no context into the way I currently live, nor the way I was raised. I have no personal connection to this sort of lifestyle whatsoever.
We will see how it goes... I will post each day with comments. The experiment begins Monday, September 29th (I guess because I like coordinating with Rosh Hashanah?) and ends two weeks later, on Sunday, October 12th. Jon doesn't think I can do it for two weeks... but I know I can. What do you think?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Yin Yang

JON: How do you do that?
ME: What?
JON: Make the boy stop crying after an Ouchie? I've been trying to comfort him and his two smased fingers for five minutes, then you come along, give him one hug, and make it all better! How do you do that?!
ME: I dunno.

ME: How do you do that?
JON: What?
ME: Get the boy to respond to your commands and say "Yes, Sir!" as he moves to go do what you asked? I've asked him 17 times to take those toys upstairs and wash his hands, then you come along, tell him to do what I asked, and he jumps up and does it! How do you do that?!
JON: I dunno.

JON: How do you do that?
ME: What?
JON: Make the kids and me laugh with just a look, a sound or one word? I goof around and do silly voices and funny walks all day and just get a chuckle, then you walk through the room, raise one eyebrow, and throw the kids into a laughing fit that eventually leads to tears and a bathroom break! How do you do that?!
ME: I'm funny.

ME: How do you do that?
JON: What?
ME: Keep all those facts in your brain and then explain them to me and the kids in an interesting way? I was trying to explain planetary orbits and how the calendar works to the kids and they just didn't care even though THEY had asked the question, then you walk through the room, explain it in two concise sentences and now they both suddenly want to become astrophysicists! How do you do that?

JON: I'm interesting.

JON: How do you do that?
ME: What?
JON: Know exactly what the boy is talking or thinking about even on the most random things? He told me a story the other day for a good ten minutes and I still had no idea what he was talking about until two days later when he said three words about it to you and you knew exactly what he meant (and thus explained it back to me)! And you do it all the time! How do you do that?
ME: *shrug* We're just wired the same, I guess.

ME: How do you do that?
JON: What?
ME: Calm the girl and ease her worries? She went on an on yesterday, teary-eyed, about her worries that her cat will die - someday - in the far away future, and I tried my best to comfort her and make her think good thoughts, but she just couldn't stop being sad until you came over, squeezed her shoulders, told her to look into your eyes, and then told her it was all gonna be okay. Sunshine sprouted from her eyes and she smiled! How do you do that?

JON: She's my girl - we're the same, I guess.

JON: How do you do that?
ME: What?
JON: Stay soft and good? You are a cat and kid and me magnet. We all want to snuggle you all the time, and forever! How do you do that?
ME: I wish I knew.

ME: How do you do that?
JON: What?
ME: Amaze me after so much time?
JON: I'm not sure - how do you do it?
ME: Don't know... its a mystery, I guess.
JON: Yeah... I guess so too.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


If you're a mom, you know me.

I'm the mom at your kid's lesson who is dressed a bit kooky - maybe tie-dyed tee, perhaps a bandana on my wild hair - and definitely sandals or skull-infused vans on my wee feet. I'm the one in the corner, head buried in a book or journal.

My kids are in the lesson too. You know them, cheerful and attentive, they are hard to miss. You know I treat them gently and with humor, and that we usually arrive on time, and that I hardly ever appear flustered.

It's easy for me to be like this.

Easy even when we are running late late late and have left half of the necessary equipment at home.

Easy even when the boy is raising hell and the girl is sulking.

Easy even when it is hard.

It's easy for me for one reason - because this hour of this day of the week is important to me, it is vital to me, it is indeed sacred to my very existence.

THIS is my invisible time.

Invisibility is something I discovered when my oldest was young and my youngest was strapped to my breast. I discovered, I supposed due to my somewhat odd appearance, that many of the typical moms at a certain dance studio were able to disregard my very existence - completely - while we watched our 3-year-old daughters dance.

Insulted at first, I set about finding loud things to do with the baby in order to be noticed. The others looked up from their conversations, judged from across the room, and I guess decided that I was indeed NOT THERE - invisible.

It could have been an identity crisis of epic proportions. I was lonely, and tired, and adjusting to being mom-to-two... why didn't they like me? Would I need to change to fit in and have more friends or could I just be myself and move on? Could I stand the lonliness for one second longer?

The baby coo-ed and slept, and I decided not to fret about things but instead to go with my philosophy of "at first sight".

I chose my university at first sight.

I fell in love with my soulmate at first sight.

I bought two houses at first sight.

Both the children owned my heart at first sight.

And with all of my closest friends, I've had chemistry at first sight.

How could I deny this philosophy's mystery?

So I steadied myself and remained who I was. I settleed the baby in and shrank invisibly into the corner. And then, mysteriously, on a second look, a mom saw me, approached and introduced herself, and *poof* became my best friend - and by my side she still remains.

I've remained who I was - and who I am is the invisible one at your kid's lesson. Yes, I look odd - and guess what? I AM odd, but so are you. And guess what else? I have lots of love and friendship to go around, just as you do.

What am I doing? I'm reading or writing, playing a game on the phone or doing a crossword. Sometimes my mind is just really far away, thinking and making lists.

Say hello if you see me, I won't mind, but please understand if I don't make amazing conversation and drift back to whatever I was doing. My mind thrives on this time. But you never know, we might be sisters at first sight.

And why is this hour so important to me? Because it is time - time being somewhere FOR my kids (not because of them). Time alone (sorta) with myself. Time to do nothing - really. It is mental health time. It is mysterious time. This is my invisible time.