Homage to Rita
Much respect for stay-at-home Moms
“So what’s new with you?” one of my few remaining single friends would ask me after we had sufficiently covered her dating life, professional developments, and latest shrink appointments.
“What’s new with me? I’ll tell you what’s new with me. I live in Indiana, I have two little kids [now three], I drive a minivan, and my latest project is getting my 1-year-old to drink from a sippy cup and my 2-year-old to use the potty.”
That’s right — life in the fast lane. Please don’t envy me, it’s embarrassing.
It’s official. I’ve gone to the other side. It was quite subtle, the transformation, but it occurred nonetheless. The woman who was once a single, pathologically self-absorbed young professional has seamlessly morphed into a stay-at-home mother. The woman who had one fork, one knife, one spoon, and often ate standing up in her kitchen was now responsible for nourishing a family of four [five] and running the ship that was our home.
I’ve passed a bar, run marathons, and birthed babies, but I’ll tell you something, running a household is hard. And I’m bad at it.
After totally taking my mother and her ample domestic skills for granted for the first 30 years of my life, I now kick myself for not pulling up a chair so I could have learned how to “home make” at the foot of the master.
My mother was a domestic goddess. Truly. In the days before I gave birth to my first child, she flew in to help us prepare for the baby’s arrival. Within minutes she had established order in our cramped, overstuffed, two-bedroom apartment. Briskets were cooking, soups were simmering, messes were tidied. I hadn’t even had the baby yet and already I had visions of me with my arms wrapped around my mother’s legs, begging her not to leave me.
Oh, if only I possessed that skill to make a delicious meal from the dregs in my fridge. And her flair for presentation sadly skipped this generation. Don’t get me started on her talent for home decoration or her fashion sense. The woman had vision. Flat out.
I think I speak for the legions of other former-professional thirty-something women who find themselves playing the role of Carol Brady instead of Mary Tyler Moore when I say, “How did you do this with seemingly no effort Mom?” And Alice, where are you?”
Judith Friedman, 2003, revised 2022.