The Good Housewife
The following is excerpted from an actual 1950's high school Home Economics textbook:
ADVANCE: How to be a Good Wife
HAVE DINNER READY: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal--on time. This is a way to let him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned with his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home, and having a good meal ready is part of the warm welcome that is needed.
PREPARE YOURSELF: Take fifteen minutes to rest so that you will be refreshed when he arrives. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift. Greet him with a smile.
CLEAR AWAY THE CLUTTER: Make one last trip though the main part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up children's books and toys, papers, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you lift too.
PREPARE THE CHILDREN: If they are small, wash their hands and faces and comb their hair. They are his little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.
MINIMIZE ALL NOISE: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise from the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.
SOME "DO NOT'S": Don't greet him with problems and complaints. Don't complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as a minor problem compared to what he might have gone through that day.
MAKE HIM COMFORTABLE: Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest that he lie down in the bedroom. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.
LISTEN TO HIM: You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first.
MAKE THE EVENING HIS: Never complain if he doesn't take you to dinner or to other entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his need to unwind and relax.
THE GOAL: TO MAKE YOUR HOME A PLACE OF PEACE AND ORDER WHERE YOUR HUSBAND CAN RELAX IN BODY AND SPIRIT.
This was posted in an email and the sender was poking fun because the 1950's housewife was such a slave to the husband; the point of the email was "how far we've come" in liberating ourselves as housewives. I was offended... sort of. Why? Because this is actually something I strive to be. Especially that last line. While I was on maternity leave, I realized just how easy it is to stay in PJ's all day. I realized how quickly the day can get away from you before you have a single thing accomplished. My hubby comes home for lunch at 11:00 so I had made it my personal goal to at least be dressed and have the bed made before he came home for lunch. Once I was recovered, I worked even harder to have something done by lunch time. I wasn't always successful and certainly never got nearly what I wanted done.
I'm still holding on to my promise that I will be able to stay at home in the very near future. I want the chance to be a good wife and mother - or at least the kind of wife/mother I feel I should be. Probably the hardest part about working and being a mom is dealing with the guilt. Sarah mentioned feeling guilty because she put her children off to long... I feel guilty because I don't have time to read to my son. I feel guilty because I'm hooked up to a machine to feed my son instead of breastfeeding him. (That really hit me hard the other day when I had to walk away from my hungry, crying son to go pump because I didn't have time to feed him). My house is neglected, my laundry left to pot, the toilet is growing mold, and the floors look like I've got wild animals living in my home. I won't even mention the dying plant on my living room floor.
No, this is not a pity party; this is just me being honest much like Sarah was honest. None of us are perfect wives or mothers. Sometimes it feels good to be honest with myself and remind myself I will never be the perfect 1950's housewife.