Half a century on, it strikes me there’s not much difference between the modern woman and a 50s housewife.
My husband walks in from work and routinely finds me whipping something up in the kitchen (usually a blog entry, sometimes a corporate workshop, occasionally a chapter for the vampire-free young adult sci-fi romance – today, this comparative exposition about modern women being like 50s housewives).
Dinner is waiting.
I have freshened up for his arrival home. Yes, I have. When I hear his key in the door, I hope there’s a top flapping on the clothes airer beside me that’s not covered in regurgitated S26 Gold. If there is, I throw it on and fling the dirty one across the room into the washing basket (or near it, on the floor, hopefully where he won’t trip over it).
By the time he makes it down the hallway, I am a sight to behold.
Do I put my face on, first thing in the morning? No need – I’m permanently logged in. After flicking the kettle on, I’m all over the internet like a rash. Facebook, LinkedIn, email, my blog, my website, the baby forum, the news, the online magazines I write for – you name it, it’s open in my browser before you can say ‘I was talking about makeup.’
I’m a step ahead there – often waking up with makeup already on (if I went somewhere important yesterday). The tweens allowed my makeup remover to be engulfed by the black hole that we call the second bathroom, so I routinely arise with half of yesterday’s face on my person and the other half on the pillow case.
The baby smiles at me regardless of how I look at 5am (as he did at 2am and, if we’re unlucky, 11pm before that). Digging the older kids out of bed, I reclaim the laundry from the dog, pack everyone off to school and work in two different states (we live on the border, so school terms never match) and I get on with the business of running the household.
More accurately, I get on with running the business from the household, shuffling it with a part-time public sector position and some freelance writing. The ballet run puts a spanner in the work, as does the netball run and indeed, this week, the feral cat run. (We returned from holiday to find an abandoned cat and her two wild kittens on our doorstep, hired a trap and convinced a team of seven brave souls ranging in age from four to thirty-seven to lure the undomesticated animals from a garden that, once you’re crawling around in its undergrowth, seems closely modelled on a Patagonian jungle. We’d have used machetes but we were scared we’d lop a head off – either human or feline – neither option desirable).
With all of this going on, the house is kept exactly as my husband expects it to be. This is particularly true since the cleaning lady won a job as a physiotherapist’s receptionist after I paid her $90 to coach her in job-interview skills while she waved the duster around like a magic wand that has lost its magic. We’re sinking a la the Titanic, the whole house listing East under the weight of six people’s washing, strung up in relative states of damp on the large family of clothes airers that has taken up residence in our meals area.