Thursday, January 28, 2010

The rain is falling

...and freezing as soon as it touches. Tomorrow the world will be covered with crystal frosting like a big crunchy wedding cake. Ice scrapers will probably be thoroughly ineffective on the car windshield, and the power lines will probably have fallen, like they do every time Oklahoma has an ice storm. Thus I spend the precious hours of electricity meditating online about the fact that at least my stove and water heater are gas powered. So technically is the central heating, but we'd have to figure out a way to bypass the electric thermostat. Any clues?

Before I got married, I expected wifehood to be a blissful world of aprons and baby-tummies. I figured that I would be the sort of wife who had fresh flowers on her kitchen table and handmade doilies on every surface, and who knew the natural remedy for every possible ailment. Somehow marriage would enable me to become this person, because obviously as a single girl I didn't have time for it. Oh, I had hours to dream about it, but no time to put it into practice. Besides, I was an ideological aspiring housewife who in practice tended to leave her socks in the living room floor. Laundry? People do laundry? Without having to wash clothes three times over because they sat in the washer so long they got musty? What? And doing dishes everyday? I thought this was why we engaged house-elves!

Intellectually, however, I knew that once married I would in fact still be the same person I was when I was single. I thus buried myself under countless resolutions to become the perfect housewife BEFORE I was married. They would generally last about a week before my messy habits would resurface. And those dreams of potted herbs? Still dreams. I have a brown thumb.

Does marriage really change you, the way I thought it didn't? Is it just because I've discovered from experience that with two people making the mess, if I don't keep it under control it will eventually reach nervous-breakdown proportions? That might be an explanation for why I do laundry on occasion, but does it explain the frustrated sigh at seeing dead grass on the carpet and immediate vacuuming frenzy when I came home from work this afternoon?

The fear of disproportionate messes also doesn't explain the simple satisfaction I get from perfecting my house. It must be simply because it IS my house: not my parents' house, not a house I share with roommates, but my house, mine and my husband's, and I am the wife and mistress of the hearth. The sunlight falling past the blue windowsill onto my drying dishes could only be more satisfying if there were a lace curtain (with roosters!) filtering the light (and hiding the ugly windowshades that the landlord won't let me take down, but we're not discussing that right now). I fold the blankets and arrange the pillows on the bed, taking care that the seams on the striped pillow shames mirror and don't chase each other, because it must be symmetrical. I turn on lamps, I open blinds, I arrange, I tidy, I stress out when things are messy and I can't help it anymore! There are currently a tissue, a jar of peanuts and two empty bowls on the cedar chest/coffee table and it's driving me CRAZY. However, I'm warm under a blanket and not going anywhere (c.f. note about the ice).

You might think I'm bragging about how I'm a perfect wife. I could demure and say that I don't cook very often, having been lucky enough to marry a much better cook than I am, and therefore I don't live up to wifely ideals. I could more justly say that there's a big pile of laundry, and then give the excuse that since my dryer is on the fritz, the clothes have to air dry, and there are only so many loads that can air dry at once inside a house in the middle of winter.

Instead, I think I'll be honest. The point of being a wife isn't keeping a beautiful home, or using your handmade apron to pull a from-scratch cake out of the oven, or having many children with starched pinafores and shiny clean faces. The point of being a wife is to love your husband. And how can I love my husband when all I do when I'm home from work is stress out about the mess in the house? I get so irritable when I'm distracted from a task that I feel is important; even (and I'm ashamed to say it) when what is distracting me is a tender caress. What I need to learn is that no task is more important than my man is.

How insidious pride is. I deceive myself into believing that I am performing acts of love and service by spending so much time and energy in minding my house, when in fact all I am doing is feeding my own newfound clean-freak ego. What I need to do is accept the fact that I am not a stay-at-home wife but a working wife, and my few hours at home need to be spent in giving my Lord and Master what he really needs: less of the sweet smell of Simple Green and more of my undivided attention.

That said, I have been boldfacedly lying all week when I tell my customers that I hope it won't ice as badly as the forecast says. I hope it ices fully that badly, and more. The more time I have at home, the more time I have to fulfill my cleaning bug needs and still have many hours in the day for cuddling and talking. And this makes everyone happy.

1 comment:

L Fabjanska said...

"The point of being a wife is to love your husband. "

I really like this. Also, I needed to hear it. Thank you.

Love and Love.