Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Rambling Preamble to the Real Women Meme

When I read the first part of Nutmeg's post on Real Women, I thought immediately of something I wrote almost twenty years ago. Further down, I found that she had tagged me to do it too, and so the hunt began.....

"Where did I put it? Where the hell is it? I know I put it here."

There's usually some logic to where I stash things----hush you in the peanut gallery, there is...its just not your garden-variety logic. Finally, after tears of frustration, and muttered imprecations about my untidy mind, I found it. In the first place I had looked---just not thoroughly enough.....sigh.

For a little background. We were living in Montana. It was the middle of winter. There was snow on the ground and frost in the air. Liz was in tenth grade, the boys were in seventh and fifth, California Girl was four or five, and always ready to divest herself of whatever warm clothing I had trussed her up in, and escape to the outdoors to run naked in the snow. The YS was still in diapers. And if you're not tired already, just thinking about that much, we also had two rambunctious springer spaniels, barely out of puppyhood. There was a shadowy figure we called Dad in the picture, but he was a squadron commander at the time and always at work.

The day in question was one of those, where, from the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning, everything goes wrong. When the children came home from school everyone was milling around the kitchen, which was none too spacious. Strange and noxious fumes were emanating from the diapered one. And THEN someone let the dogs in. Joyous dogs they were, and I loved them dearly, just not at that particular moment on that particular day. They had their dancing shoes on, courtesy of Mr. Montana Winter, and they were ecstatic to see the kids. Bedlam. Screeching children. Excited, tap-dancing,vigorously tail-wagging,enthusiastically drooling dogs, muddy ice quickly turning to muddy slush all over the kitchen floor..... Something exploded inside my head.

"Out!" I roared. I had to roar. No one would have heard me if I'd spoken in my normal, civilised voice.

"Out of my kitchen! All of you! And don't come back!"

They scattered. To bedrooms, to the basement, to Timbuktu, for all I cared. I slammed the door shut, grabbed some paper and a pen, sat down in the middle of the kitchen floor, and through tears of rage aud frustration, wrote the following advertisement, which I had every intention, no matter how ridiculous it sounded, of sending to the classified section of the newspaper.

"Wanted ASAP!

One warm and kindly woman, to care for five children, their father and their dogs.
Must be a refined person, even-tempered, understanding and infinitely patient.
Should be content to work for love, not filthy lucre.
Must agree, in writing, never to develop the flu, a headache, an upset stomach, an aversion to children, or anything that might hinder her in the proper discharge of her duties.
Said duties will include cooking, cleaning, dusting, scrubbing, and laundry ---in its multi-faceted glory. In addition, the applicant will be on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year. This cannot be over-emphasised as unforseen emergencies occur with regularity.

A very dim view would be taken of an applicant likely to come unglued at the sight of broken bones, split chins, gaping wounds or gushing blood. An iron constitution is imperative.

The successful applicant should be a person of humble, self-effacing disposition, since the pursuit of personal interests might lead to discord in the household. Of course this requirement would be waived in the desirable, but unlikely,event the applicant actually gets her jollies from scrubbing, cooking, cleaning, dusting,and laundry in its multi-faceted glory.

The person selected will find she spends most of her day caring for the children, ensuring that they are at all times clean, warm, well-fed and healthy. The littlest girl has a penchant for running naked in the snow; the boys show little interest in wearing clothing appropriate to the season, and have a particular aversion to baths and picking up their toys.

It would be expected of the successful applicant that she would overcome these minor problems in a cheerful and positive manner. She should strive to maintain a calm, harmonious atmosphere, and never resort to such extreme measures as locking the little darlings in their rooms and throwing the keys down the toilet, or forcing them to go to bed without ice cream. Gentle persuasion is preferred at all times to ranting and raving, especially in family room combat situations. She must be mindful always of their delicate psyches. Hers however, should be of steel.

The applicant will find it is easier to achieve peak performance in her duties if she can arrange to have six additional hours in her day instead of the usual twenty four.

While the older children are in school, in addition to the younger two, she will have complete charge of the family dogs. Their intake of playdoh, which the pre-schooler generously shares with them, must be carefully monitored to ensure that it does not exceed the USRDA for dogs under one year. The applicant's chances of securing this job will be greatly enhanced by the ability to wield a poopie-scooper with skill and a pleasant smile.

The father will be the easiest part of this job, departing as he does, before dawn, and returning well after dark. His requirements are few ---sporadic feeding, a steady stream of clean underwear and shirts, and peace and quiet on his rare sojourns at home.

This highly desirable job is available only because the person currently holding the position is losing her grip on reality and will be departing soon to take up beachcombing in the Bahamas.

Qualified applicants may obtain further details from Molly Bawn. But hurry. She may have a better day tomorrow."

So there you have it. Real women, as much as they love being moms and wives, need to have breathing space, and time,once in a while, just a little time, to remember who they were before life swept them away on this marriage, children, mortgage, sleep deprivation roller-coaster ride. Guilty as charged.

Did I hear someone mutter "procrastinator"? Once again, guilty as charged........I'm thinking, I'm thinking! More next post.....


Stomper Girl said...

I loved this, Molly. Where would we be without a sense of humour? Did you show it to the Squadron Leader when he got home that night?

I tell my children there's no need to shout. But like you, sometimes I need to roar. No-one would hear me if I spoke in my normal civilised voice heeheehee.

Tanya Brown said...

Lovely stuff. Years ago a feminist wrote a job description for a wife which included a mile-long list of duties along the lines of yours. It concluded with the heartfelt question "Who wouldn't want a wife?

I don't know how anyone survives having more than one child. You seem so virtuous; I feel indecently pleased knowing that you can roar when the occasion requires it.

Tracey Petersen said...

Please, if you find said woman, share her around! I could find her very useful.

Em said...

Oh I love this! I'm run ragged with three children... I can't imagine coping with five (although I guess you do what you have to do...) Did it ever get easier?

Suse said...


Absolutely priceless.

Molly said...

SG, Sense of humour is #2 on my list of things to take with when I run away from home. Right after my toothbrush.

TB, The most hilarious one I've read was by a SAHM applying for a job. Sizing up the situation [prune-faced interviewer] she described her work as a mom, but without mentioning her children. She talked about the on-going experimental studies she was involved in in the field of child development, her experiences in the field of high finance [balancing her checkbook!],grocery shopping as involvement in get the picture. Her descriptions were an accurate and truthful account of her work experience. But if she had just said she was a SAHM she knew she wouldn't get the job. The interviewer was suitably impressed and she did.

Tracey, IF I had found her back then I would NOT have shared! If I find her now I'll send her your way...

Em and Suse, Welcome! it did get easier as they got older, but I still wish I could have had those extra few hours in every day. Those were wonderful, but hectic times. Each of my children is talented, funny and beautiful. God took a big risk entrusting them to me....I just wish I'd had more time to savour each one......

meggie said...

It must take a special person indeed to balance & raise 5 children.
Time out is the most precious thing- & so hard to get!
Loved this post.

nutmeg said...

You've left me speechless Molly (and that is a rare occurence!) I was so totally involved in reading this and nodding and in awe all the way through. 5 kids! And I find it hard with just the two. There is a strange "joy" in knowing one is not alone in feeling this way :-)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Naw, sorry. The ad doesn't appeal to me. I 'd rather apply for that shadowy Dad post. Sounds great with all the perks of being out of the house most of the time.

velcro said...

I loved this. Can I borrow it to look for a replacement me please?

joyce said...

Been there, done that, but now that it's done and gone, I sometimes miss it. Go figure. (I don't miss it enough to apply for the job though!)

shellyC said...

Fabulous post Molly!!! I wonder how many of us would have felt had we been handed that application before we embarked on it all??? Probably would have thought that it can't be that bad....only to find out the hard way that it is....but as you said...only some days!!

My float said...

Absolutely. What a wonderful ad. I'm thinking you were only half joking...!

By the way, my normal voice? Gone. It went the day my son learnt how to walk. Now I shout. A lot.

Isabelle said...

Loved your job description.

I used to think that polygamy had a lot going for it. One wife to stay at home and look after the house and children, the other to go out and work. Come to think of it, it still seems a good idea. I'd like to be the stay-at-home one. Or so it seems now that the children have reached years of helpfulness.

Thanks so much for your sympathy about my dad.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

What a marvelous want ad! And all of it so true.

I think I will always miss my children as the little ones they were, but I raised my own best friends.

They are all amazing, beautiful people who have brought so much joy to me at every age, and I can't imagine my life without any of them.