I have spent most of my adult married life trying to reconcile being a feminist who also does most of the cooking, cleaning and household chores. Yes, I have a husband who is understanding and happy to help out by picking up groceries or cleaning up or heating up food now and then, but it has been my responsibility in our 26 year marriage.
We could have split the housework load more evenly, but I would have had to lower my cleanliness standards and let’s face it, I was at home for most of that time. More importantly I would have had to figure out a way to conquer the voice in my head that says if I don’t keep a clean house, cook healthy delicious meals, raise amazing children (which I did!) than I am something less than a full woman.
Being born between the sedate 1950’s and the liberating 1960’s put me in the middle. I learned all the ‘traditional’ female wisdom on how to hook a man AND how to drop out, light up and be free. While learning that I wasn’t a real woman without a man who loved me I was also reading MS magazine, following Gloria Steinem and standing up for my rights.
I also remember being told that I didn’t want to get a bad reputation as a ‘fast’ girl in school (oops too late for that, but that is for another blog post someday).
Somehow all that got reconciled in my brain decades ago. It is not an oxymoron to be a feminist domestic goddess. I remember when Roseann Barr coined the term domestic goddess; I was running a company at the time and had no inkling that someday I would give up my professional path for a life as a stay-at-home mom. But when I traded in my floppy bows and business suits I did not give away my mind or my values. I could stay at home, raise the kids and still be the independent woman who hitchhiked across the southwest, once sleeping under an 18 wheel truck for shelter, after spending the week at the Rainbow Family Gathering.
Over the years, I have struggled with that old voice in my head spouting outdated, obsolete, obscene advice that belittles the woman I am because of the lack of cleanliness in my home. These days it has been mostly beaten back and down. I pray that my daughter and her friends never know this craziness. I hope that they find a better balance between leaning in and enjoying their time as mothers.
My kids are (mostly) launched and independent. After staying at home for many years, I ran several companies, each with varying success. I ran an international non-profit as a volunteer, and I wrote a marketing book. I have come a long way, baby!
Or have I?
Three weeks ago we moved from our suburban condo to a townhome in downtown San Jose. While work is still being completed on the place, we have been without a washer and dryer for three weeks. It was supposed to be done much sooner, but that is life in the construction zone. My new best friend is the local laundromat owner. Last Friday my new machines arrived. And I am embarrassed by how happy having a washer and dryer in my home has made me.
I am no more feminine because I have been married for 26 years, nor am I less than a ‘real’ feminist because I enjoy being at home. At the moment, I just feel relief that I no longer have to schlep our laundry around town. I love being able to walk down the hallway (on our new carpet) and wash our clothes and sheets and towels. And in case you were wondering, the laundry division of labour around here is that I wash it all and my husband folds it all.
And if that makes me a feminist domestic goddess then so be it!
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