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 (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200309/flanagan) 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.