“Dude,” I responded, “I choose something to do and get totally awesome at it. This is just the thing I’m doing right now.”
That thing: housewifing.
For someone—me—whose life choices had firmly defined her as not-housewife, this is a puzzling revision. Except it’s not. I never said I didn’t want to be a housewife specifically. I said I never wanted to birth things. And I won’t. There are three pretty significant stumbling blocks that the parts and pieces of zygote-building would have to hurdle in order to knock me up. I never considered Housewife as an option because that job and motherhood usually party together. Instead my housewifery happened because I hated my boss, my husband hated my hating, we didn't need my income, and that darling husband said something like, Woman, quit if you wanna quit. So I went from childless* drug rep who teaches yoga sometimes to childless housewife who teaches yoga sometimes. Drop one noun. Snag another.
But what does housewifery even mean in my situation? To start, it means that my friends kinda hate me. It’s actually one reason I haven’t blogged recently. I a little bit can’t. When I write about my life people hate me and that leaves me a lil’ lonely.
A few months ago driving through Napa on an impossibly green weekday Jim took hold of my bare right foot crossed over my thigh and said, “I love these feet.”
[one friend just stopped reading . . . her husband’s not very attentive and she can’t deal with enduring this sap right now]
Fighting the urge to slip it from his hand and slide it to the floor, I asked, “But why? I live barefoot. They’re horrible.”
He rubbed a thumb along my rough heel. “Because they’re where my wife starts.”
[three more friends just clicked off . . . two never to be heard from again]
When he says things like that I coo that he’s darling and I kiss his neck, and then I say, “You know I can never tell anyone how cute you are, right? You’ll end up being my only friend and that will put too much pressure on you. You don’t enjoy girl talk.”
It’s not just the stuff he says though. He makes my day-to-day enviable.
Take right now for instance: I’m perched on what must be the softest bed in America, near an open window that overlooks SF’s Union Square while Jim is out visiting clients. I planned to take a few yoga classes today, and I still may, but right now it feels nice to just not. I do, however, plan to take the 8-minute walk to Lululemon for another Scuba Hoodie a little later. My big problem though is that I forgot my shampoo and conditioner at home and had to use some drugstore stuff that’s making my hair frizzy despite the pricey potions I added pre blow-dry.
Dear Reader, this out-of-town Monday isn’t a weird one. I’m exactly this spoiled all the time.
When talking with a friend a few months ago about how irritated I get when the housekeepers don’t tuck in my sheets just right (I actually had the spoiled audacity to bitch about that) she cut in, “Wait—they change your sheets too? Sorry, but what do you even do!?” It’s never a good idea at moments like that to reply, “Uh, I fill out the order form for the weekly organic box. I schedule the Tesla maintenance, pay the people who pick up the dog poop outside, bring the milk in from the front porch and pick up my weekly juice order. I request additional landscaping and leave out the dry cleaning. Oh, and I choose new carpet.” I have experiential confirmation that nothing makes you sound douchier than a response like that. More importantly—to me—it overlooks what I do that actually adds value.
I’m married to a man who would prefer not to think about anything that isn’t fun or doesn’t have to do with work. His life is about supporting me, his kids, and the parasites that literally live off of his kids’ child support. So I make a good bit of my life about making his easier.
Jim’s ideal world is one where he doesn’t have to think about what to wear or what to eat, where his people are happy, and where he feels loved. So I manage his wardrobe—I toss clothes when they’ve seen their day, clip coordinating socks to his shirts, pitch a fit when the dry cleaners crease his chinos, and hunt for shoes that are comfortable on the first wear. I handle his food—the evening before each work day I choose and pack his snacks and I make his lunch salad with vinaigrettes acidic enough to give him lockjaw, just like the man likes. To take care of the keeping-the-wife happy part of Jim’s ideal I go to yoga, teach yoga, buy clothes, visit family, keep friends, and learn new things. And to make sure he feels loved I don’t let my hobbies become more important than us spending time together and go to bed when he does so I can tickle his back for the whole two minutes it takes my guy to pass out.
Nutshelled: housewifery for me means that I take care of the guy who is taking care of me, and the rest of the time I do whatever the hell I want, and I do it in a really nice car.
We’re good partners. We are religiously aligned. Our priorities match. He likes to talk business. I like to hear it. I have skill sets that enhance his work and home life. He’s good at the money making. I’m good at the money spending. He comes with me to art museums. I accompany him to baseball games and occasional outdoorsy garbage. We each feel well-supported. We were happy when my daily wear was high heels and pencil skirts, and we’re happy now that I wear more Chucks than heels and leggings than skirts.
I was born pretty uptight. For most of my life that served me okay. I got shit done. I felt good about the shit I got done. It gave me something that felt like happiness. But I don’t feel like I have to be like that just now. If I need to go into hyper-productive mode I know how; it’s built into me.
My relationship with Jim caught me at a good time. The first month we started seeing each other was the month I finished graduate school. I’d been doing driven and stressed out for a long time and I was ready to give output-as-priority a break. I was managing the emotional trauma of a cheating ex-husband, and I finally had some space for fun. If there’s anything people know about Jim it’s that my husband is fun. So I let it happen. Without really knowing it, I was ready for something else. I’m now up to my ears in Something Else.
I’m crushing housewifery like I crushed drug repping, like I crushed school, like I crush all the shit I choose to crush. Anyone can make almond milk every Wednesday, Dear Reader, but it’s only badasses that use Thursdays to make crackers out of the pulp.
* But Megan, you can’t call yourself childless! You have step kids! Yes, yes I do. And I don’t. When Jim and I got married we talked about what my role with his kids should be. Jim wasn’t looking for someone to be a parent to his kids. His younger children have a part-time mom. And for the older two that don’t, Jim’s a great dad and mom and those two’s mothers-in-law (wink, Traci!) are about as stellar woman as exist on the planet. A stepmom wasn’t necessary. Instead we decided that I would support him as a parent and be the kids’ friend as much as they were okay with—I would give them the assurance that their father was loved and would help them in whatever way they needed. And that’s just what I told them in the letters I wrote the kids when we wed.
The relationships have evolved over the last couple years. It’s different with each of them. Anyone whose done the blended family thing knows that the bonds are tenuous and the relationships perpetually delicate. I do my best to not overstep my boundaries while still being available in the capacities the kids need.
Initially, I helped out and made myself available because I loved Jim and he loves his kids. It’s nice now that I adore those little dorks for themselves and get to enjoy relationships with each of them and their significant others that are unique to them and independent of their dad.
So am I their stepmom? Only if that’s what they want. I don’t presume. I try to identify and respect boundaries. I just act as their dad’s other half and have a really good time with them both when he’s around and when he’s not.