“We need a wife,” I grumbled to my husband, as I hoisted a heavy laundry basket full of clean clothes onto the bed.
Surprisingly, he actually understood what I meant. This comes from being married for so long. I’m not sure he realized at the time he married me that I was not a domestic goddess. Goddess, yes, domestic, no. Not only did he not quite comprehend what he was getting into with a partnership with me, he came from a home in which his mother was a great cook, homemaker, seamstress, decorator, hostess, and every other superlative domestic duty one can name. In other words, a poor role model for women such as myself.
But to his credit, he rarely complains, even when he wears wrinkled clothes or eats nuked leftovers three nights in a row. Still, I figure if the wrinkled clothes bother him too much, he can not iron them just as well as I don’t iron them. And if the thought of eating leftovers yet another night is too unpalatable, he can whip up some Hamburger Helper just as easily as I can (and frequently does). Or he can always say those five magic words, “Let’s go out for dinner.”
So what if I’m not the perfect homemaker? I have plenty of other good qualities, such as . . . well, I’m really good at Wheel of Fortune. And I can draw blood from a parakeet. I can also recite all the books of the Bible in order. One never knows when those skills are going to come in handy.
In many places of the world, people have live-in maids to do all the undesirable domestic chores, such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and even taking care of the children. When we lived in Indonesia and had our first live-in helper, I thought I had died and gone to Heaven—for about two days. She was a lousy cook, but we didn’t mind all that much as long as we didn’t have to do it. She spoke no English, so at first we had some communication barriers, such as the time she interrupted me frantically saying, “May O Neese!” I thought I was missing something of earth-shattering importance until she indicated I should follow her to the refrigerator, where I discovered we were out of mayonnaise. But all in all, we were happy with her until her family forced her to marry an abusive man and we got caught in the middle of their domestic problems, before her husband demanded she quit her job.
The second helper was a woman in her fifties with four grown sons (great, I’m thinking, she’s probably got some real world experience and is not going to be looking for a man)! Uh, no. This one not only didn’t have a lick of common sense, but she stunk to high heaven (despite my furnishing her with necessary toiletries), had a penchant for interrupting us right in the climax of a favorite TV show, and thought she spoke English. I begged her to stick to Indonesian. She once let our five-year old son take a lit candle to bed when she was supposed to be watching him. When we called to check on him, he answered the phone (several hours after he should have been asleep) and told us he was playing with a lit candle under his blankets. After demanding to speak to her, she came to the phone several minutes later and justified her actions by telling us our son wanted to play with the candle. Apparently, in their culture, the helper doesn’t tell the child of their employer, “no,” regardless of the danger. She also stole my broccoli, but that’s another story.
Anyway, as nice as it sounds to have someone to do all those disagreeable chores, things aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. I guess I’ll just keep slogging through the way I have for the past few decades. So far nobody has died from my less than perfect housekeeping. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go gripe and fold laundry.