Lament of a house frau

Someone asked me recently if Gabriella and I ever wanted our set up to be any different – other than having Gabriella work full time while I stayed home and played house frau. No, I said. It just sort of worked out this way. But then I thought about it. It does seem that our set up is flawed.

Gabriella is Mommy, and I am Mom for good reason. A mommy is someone who has endless patience and empathy and who never runs out of hugs. She never wishes that her children would stay out of her personal space and stop touching her, and she never resents her sick children for staying home and ruining her day, and she hasn’t started an overnight camp fund – fantasizing about sending them off far away for weeks at a time with every deposit.

Gabriella loves to cook, and she cleans without complaint. She’s that person whose desk at work is never cluttered. Nary a pen nor paperclip nor even a daily calendar of words you should know to sound smart defiles the uninterrupted, unsmudged glass surface of her workspace. If she were at home, our house would be spotless.

Instead, there are piles of crap everywhere. I can’t seem to find the right home for all the miscellaneous papers. It’s a problem, really, because I love the idea of being organized and I love all the organizational systems and containers and accessories that promote organization.

My qualifications lend themselves to running some corporate company somewhere because I am not a Mommy. I am an ENTJ in Meyers Briggs speak which means I have no heart but I do have the ability to lead and make practical and objective decisions without getting tripped up by mawkish sentiments. I have little tolerance for people who cannot or will not find solutions to their own problems.

So how did it come to be that the Italian peasant from the hills of Sicily with a nurturing heart and a soothing tone and a comforting bosom found herself working full time? (For some reason, Gabriella asked that I not include a photo of her comforting bosom.) And how did it come to be that the heartless manager who despises all things housework ended up in the house managing small cretins who cannot and will not find solutions to their own problems?

Furthermore, how is it that neither Gabriella nor I would prefer to walk in the other’s moccasins? I owned a pair of moccasins in college. They offered no support and haunt me to this day as one of my more misguided fashion choices.

The simple answer is that this arrangement made sense once, and we’ve bought into that justifiable logic over time. I was unemployed when I got pregnant with Asher, and Gabriella was on a solid career path. I loved my job when I was there, but I wasn’t gagging to go back. We both liked the idea of having a parent at home if we could manage it. And if I’m going to be really honest, I’ll confess that I didn’t like the idea of having anyone else minding our kids. I mind them just fine…

By the end of the week, however, I’m cranky from the monotony of preparing meals, doing laundry and schlepping here & there. And I’m frazzled from all the meltdowns and behavioral transgressions. A single dish left in the sink for me to wash by my hard-working partner sends me into a rage. By the end of the week, I scroll through want ads and imagine myself getting a job – any job – just so I can say that I simply don’t have time to pack one more lunch.

I know if I get closer to that green grass over there, I’ll find weeds and bugs and a pile of dog poo. I know I’d miss the wonderful aspects of being at home – being my own boss and not worrying about job security and finding time to write this blog. And I am grateful to go to school and participate in Levi’s preschool Seder and hear Asher read a book to his classmates.

I’m lucky. I know. I just wish this job came with a paycheck and vacation time.

7 thoughts on “Lament of a house frau

  1. over the years my wife and i have switched roles once or twice. when the kids were small it made sense for me to be the one to stay home. her salary just a little higher and i was willing. so i quit, and we sent her off into the pressure cooker of the young career minded. she did it for many grueling years. and finally, after the long hours of commuting and clawing her way to vp of a nyc dot com – our world changed. new york blew up. and my wife came home. she went from vp to secretary. and never looked back. i started back up the corporate rungs.
    today – she is semi retired. i work at home most days. the kids are grown, grandbaby on the way.
    hang in there.
    oh and you will look back in great awe and amusement.

  2. i use to hate it when people would say… oh it’ll all go by in a blink of an eye… well now that my boys are 30 and 24.. hell it all went by in a blink of an eye! I wish i would have known that then.

    I personally don’t know how you house frau’s do it… so i have no solid advice for those drudgery filled days. Well maybe more wine/beer/spirits to lighten the load?.. ha, or maybe just blog more and keep us amused in the process! All i can offer is a sympathetic cluck, cluck and a hearty… you go girl!

    and i do concur with the above… you will look back in great awe and amusement… you will

  3. Awe, amusement and grandbabies sound divine!! In the meantime, I’ll keep on truckin with a little help from Miss Chardonay and a lot of help from you all.

  4. I’ve recently started reading JD Robb – these are fictional detective stories set in some future time BUT what makes them attractive to me is that nothing in the future is so outrageous it’s not believable. One of the features of the future is that, when a woman does what you’re doing, it’s called a Professional Mother. And I do believe it comes w/ pay, vacation, et al.

  5. While I don’t know if my husband would be better doing the stay-at-home thing, though he’s definitely better at playing with the kids, you captured my exact feelings as a stay at home mom. That give me some room to breathe, I’m going to go postal if I have to pour one more glass of anything…Boy, what I wouldn’t give for a few business trips, golf outings, dinners, etc., and some compensation wouldn’t hurt, either. Great post.

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