Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A 1950's Household: It's not what you see on T.V.

One of the benefits of staying at a hotel so close to the beach and shopping is that you don't have to allot a lot (I just re-read that and realized how weirdly funny it sounds...'allot a lot') of time for traveling to said beach and shops. It also means, if you're anything like us, you end us spending more time in the room just hanging out and resting, especially after lunch when you've eaten enough to feed one of those sea lions you just saw barking out on the ocean (or maybe it was an elephant seal you're not sure but either way it was big and obviously must eat a lot and you feel like one of them. Only you're not barking).

(If you had any suspicions before this, I believe I've just confirmed them: yes I'm still recuperating from the trip. Yes my mental capacity is probably that of a sea lion/elephant seal/that big dark barking thing in the ocean. And God, I wish I was back on that beach.)

Where was I going with this?

Oh yes, hanging out in the room. While my kids were on their little doodad machines, PSPs or Ipods or whatever, I watched TV. One of the shows that caught my attention was Father Knows Best. Is everyone familiar with that show? Basically, it was a 1950's portrayal of the stereotypical American family: working father with a full-time housewife/mother taking care of their three children. Every episode stood alone as its own story arc, however the kids did grow up over the course of the show and (I think) ended up going off to college, at least the older two. 
The father works, but comes home in time for dinner every night. The mother cooks and cleans, but always looks fresh and clean tidy, like she'd be ready to go out for a fancy dinner at a moment's notice. Nobody swears. Nobody yells (too much). Nobody drinks (too much). The lipstick's always fresh, the carpet's always clean, and the cake always comes out perfect.

What I'm getting at here is that living a "1950's Household" isn't like what you see from the televisions shows back from that time. I don't think even in the 1950's, when these shows were on, people lived like that. 
I'm a housewife, but my house gets dirty. Dust settles on my window blinds, long enough to stake a plot and set up house. Laundry piles up. I try to cook, but Husband knows if he wants a well-cooked piece of meat, he better make it himself, cause the only thing I'm expert at handling in the kitchen is the fire extinguisher.

But there are similarities. The biggest one, obviously, is that he works and I'm in charge of the home. 

When he wakes up in the morning, there's coffee and the newspaper already waiting for him. His clothes are ironed. His shoes and keys and wallet are where they're supposed to be, not necessarily where he left them. When he comes home from work, he's greeted with smiles and kisses. The mail is in a neat pile on the table, ready for him to look through. If he comes home late, there's still food in the fridge waiting for him. He doesn't have to worry about schedules, or childcare, or household chores. I sometimes ask for his help around the house, but it's not one of his responsibilities, and if he's too busy or too tired, he says no. It's never because he's being lazy or just doesn't feel like it--it's because he legitimately can't, and I understand that. Sometimes it all gets too much for me, too. 

He focuses on spending time with the kids as a father, talking to them, teaching them, and guiding them. He's not a friend, and he's not a mom, but he's a really, really great dad. And sometimes that means taking a deep breath before walking in the door and burying deep all the stresses of work so he can focus on his kids, but he does it, because he knows that's part of his role. And at night, he may vent to me all the hassles he's dealing with at work, but that's only later, after he's greeted me with kisses and asked about my day and we've had a chance to be together as a family.

I don't always get all the housework done before he comes home, but I do freshen up before he's due through the door. It's important that I greet him looking neat and smelling good; I know he appreciates it. I do my best to think of all the little things I can do to make his life easier, to show him I'm always considering his happiness, and I know he does the same for me.

In that way, we are like a 1950's sitcom, but I hope what we are is not unique to a 1950's household. I would like to think we're typical of any happily married couple, always thinking of their spouse's wants and needs and putting the welfare of the family first. Sadly, I know in many homes, what we have is not typical at all. 

I don't think we should strive to be a television show. But I do think there are many aspects of a 1950's household that can enrich any family's home.

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