All I wanna do

I posted last week about how I wish Doug would figure out what he wants to do with his life so he can stop being underpaid and complacent.  I want this for him so that he will feel happy, and fulfilled, and needed, and proud of himself.  But – perhaps even more so – I want this because I am selfish and lazy.  This is my confession.

Like I’ve mentioned here before, I decided I wanted to be a writer at the age of eight.  For years, it seemed like everything was on track for me to live this dream: I was the star of all my English classes through junior high; in high school, I joined the newspaper staff and enjoyed two years of celebrity status for the column I wrote; then I went to a career-focused college, where I majored in writing and literature and worked as a tutor, helping fellow students with their writing.

Then I don’t know what happened.  Maybe I realized that it’s not as easy as it sounds to graduate and fall into a dream job.  Or maybe it was that I moved to Europe, met my ex-husband, and lost sight of what I’d been planning up to that point.  Instead of writing, I worked a waitressing job, then an assistant’s job, then a grocery store job.  I often asked myself what I was doing with my life.

When I got pregnant, I remember thinking how much easier my life was going to be once I had a child.  My baby would be an out from having to make a career for myself.  Instead, I could just work a few days a week, to stay social and make a little money, and spend the rest of my time raising my kid.  I lost the pregnancy, but I never lost my love for this idea.

Growing up, I never wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom.  My mom has been one since shortly before my first birthday, and she’s amazing, but, I told myself repeatedly, it wasn’t for me.  Enter one egg, fertilized then reabsorbed, and now I’m singing a much different tune.

Now all I want is for Doug to make money so that I can change my priorities/responsibilities.  I want to be provided-for.  I want to have babies and watch them grow.  I want to spend my days going for walks, reading, helping with homework, chauffeuring my kids around, meeting friends for coffee…  I know I’m totally glamorizing stay-at-home-parenting here, intentionally leaving out the diapers and the vomit, but this is my fantasy, and I’ll tell it however I like.  In this fantasy, I do want to continue working part-time at the grocery store (or similar), for the sake of a social life and spending-money, but for the most part, I want it to be Doug who goes off to work five days a week and brings in the money to pay the bills and feed the baby.

So what happened?  Am I an anti-feminism traditionalist, or…?

No.  I’m exactly what I always wanted to be.  I’m a writer.  And I prove it by writing in this blog every day.  Sure, no one pays me to write (yet), but that doesn’t make me any less of a writer.  And considering how exhausted and overwhelmed I am most days, juggling work and writing and life, it’s become obvious that, when we do decide to also bring a child into the picture, something is going to have to give.

Can’t give up writing.  Can’t give up life.  Can’t give up on the idea of having kids.  Looks like “work” has gotta go – at least in its full-time incarnation.

Of course, if Doug does manage to become the primary breadwinner,* I’ll have to make some lifestyle sacrifices as well.  As it stands, I cannot/do not cook.  I cannot/do not clean.  Like I said, I’m selfish and lazy.  But, dear universe, if I could just be a housewife, if I could just wear cute aprons and pearls and stay home most of the day, I promise I would learn.

*”Bread-winning.”  “Bringing home the bacon.”  Did the euphemism writers of yore know my favorite foods?!

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12 Responses to All I wanna do

  1. Elphaba says:

    Hey there my fellow Betty Draper. Wanna have a martini with me and wear a poofy skirt? I’ve got cigarettes too. The kids can go and play in the street–they’ll be fine.

    • Marie says:

      Um, yes. Notice how I totally forgot about how I was going to rant about the feminist movement and the impossibility of being a successful housewife in today’s society. I do have a few poofy skirts, and some bumpits I borrowed from a friend so I can get my bouffant on. Shall we meet halfway? Say, Montana?

      • Elphaba says:

        Sure, I can teach you how to cook too. I do that.

        But I don’t clean either. That’s what I got married for. (He’s the clean one.)

        Montana has mountains right? That sounds nice.

  2. slcurwin says:

    I like how you put “cannot clean” like you are physically not capable. Haha, I should try that one out.
    p.s. I’ve got pearls and cute heel, can I come too?

    • Marie says:

      For serious! I’m the type to slosh water all over the bathroom while trying to scrub the sink/counter. Or to burn my hands with Ajax, because it never occurred to me that I should wear rubber gloves. If there was such an affliction as “physically not capable of cleaning,” I would have it.

      And yes, you can come too. So can mommyodyssey, but only if she wears that giant, single earring she’s always going on about.

    • Elphaba says:

      Oh yay, we’ll all party together. I’m pumped (and drunk already).

  3. Joanna says:

    As a feminist, I have to pipe up for a moment… being a stay at home mom (or even a stay at home wife, whatever floats your boat!) doesn’t automatically mean you’re not a feminist. Wanting a traditional role doesn’t mean you’re not a feminist. The way I define it, feminism is about equality, choice and opportunity. If you want to stay home, you should be able to, without judgement, or your husband should be able to, if he wants. (uh, this is a perfect world, where dual incomes aren’t required…) Since I would rather go to school right now than stay home, then I should be able to do so without judgement. As a feminist, I just believe the we shouldn’t be PUT into a role that we don’t want, but we can feel free to choose it!
    Sorry for the long post, it’s just that I ❤ equality. 🙂

  4. Ava says:

    I watched Oprah once and she had two groups of women contrasting being a stay-at-home mother vs. being a working mother. What I found to be most interesting was that in the underlying tone it seemed that each wanted to be the other. The stay-at-homer’s wanted to be valued on an independent level and the working-mom’s wanted to be able to spend more time with their children. Each tried desperately to defend their own choices and position but ultimately neither won the argument. Sadly, I don’t think there is ever a perfect scenario.

    • Marie says:

      Thanks, I hadn’t heard about that Oprah.

      Though I am a firm believer in there not being enough hours in the day/days in the week/years in a lifetime to do and be everything we’d like to do and be. So it makes total sense that these women were each seeing the green grass on the others’ side.

      • Joanna says:

        Yeah, I don’t remember where I heard this (I think it was a panel), but people say you can’t have everything at the same time. So you can be the stay at home mom and then work, or vice versa, but then if you try to do it all at once it’s very difficult and that sense that each wants the other’s side makes a lot of sense.

  5. Saundra says:

    I think I sent you a long email about this, back in the day. But given my current situation, I can definitely see how not getting constant panic attacks from a fucked up working environment is appealing — I often clean (sometimes my boyfriend’s kitchen!) and I cook more often, and I think I can be happy doing that. For a while. For variety.

    So many things to say…it’s unduly, unfairly hard to stay financially afloat, as an individual or as a couple or as a family. We shouldn’t have to worry this much. But we do.

    Also…shit happens. Husbands leave or get sick, and I think the point is to have enough of your own money, and enough on your resume (even if part-time or freelance) to be able to jump back into having a job. So while it’s nice and fine to say it’s feminist to choose to stay at home in a “traditional” role, if you don’t have a trust fund, it may not be all that pragmatic.

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