On being a housewife + “American Housewife” by Helen Ellis

A day in the life of this housewife:

This morning. Semi-typical morning for me. I got up at 6:00. Well, actually, I was snapped awake when the neighbor’s dog barked outside at 4:45. But I rolled out of bed at around 6:00. I made sure older daughter was awake. We’re out of coffee, so no coffee. I herded Zoey, one of our dogs, into my office–she’s having surgery today, so no food for her–and let the other dog, Gigi, eat.

Got the older daughter off to the bus, despite it being the first really cold morning (below 5) and a mini-argument about her wearing a hat (I lost, or I gave up; she’s old enough to figure it out). Got younger daughter up, got her breakfast, dodging the hungry eyes from Zoey, who didn’t get to eat. Found the library books that have been missing since before Christmas break (VICTORY!!!!). Made her lunch–gluten free, because it’s 2016 and we know that someone in our family has to have a food allergy. Got her bundled up and onto the bus.

12509665_10208252900861577_654289579799353805_nLoaded Zoey into the car while dodging Gigi’s questioning eyes asking why SHE didn’t get to go in the car as well. Drove to the vet, took Zoey in, and dealt with her wondering eyes asking why I was leaving her there. Zoey is really good at puppy eyes, making me think she should be on an ASPCA commercial.

Went to Starbucks for a few, to shake the guilt I felt for just leaving Zoey there all alone (I know, I know). Went to the bank, then the grocery store. Shopped while listening to an audiobook, cognizant of the snacks I’m purchasing — stocking up on protein snacks for our swimmer and gluten free snacks for our Celiac. Also, for the husband, aware that he can’t have certain things because he has gout. Meals have been planned beforehand (sort of), knowing that we have these perimeters.

Then home, to unload the groceries, load the dishwasher. Whip up some banana bread , throw that in the oven. Toss ingredients for chili (no beans, because ‘ew, beans,’ and ground chicken due to Ted’s gout) in the Crockpot.

And now it’s nearly noon. Time to get to work. I eat lunch while I start work, saving time. Now I’m between moments at work, dashing out this post because writing my own words keeps me sane.

This is my housewife life. I’m lucky, because I work from home; I can start the chili at 11:30 and have it done at the right time. I can put banana bread in the oven and take it out while I work. But this doesn’t make me special, just lucky.

I think many take umbrage at the word housewife. But it is what it is; it is what I am. Back in ‘olden times,’ most married women spent their days not working but managing their homes. When women began to work outside the home, the word housewife took on a negative meaning, and conjured images of June Cleaver. Things have rebounded a bit again, or women have decided that you can’t really have it all. Half my women friends (and, in my small part of the world, most are mothers, because much of my activity revolves around my kids) work outside the home, half stay home. In those numbers are a few that get to work FROM home like me.

And to me, all these women are housewives. Some have husbands who do the cooking (as I do, on some nights), some have husbands who clean. Some divide the duties, others do nearly all the home stuff. So get a cleaning lady because they’re horrible at cleaning and so are their husbands (like me). But each and every woman that I know, whether working in or out or from the home, is a housewife. Married to the their house, managing their home and their family.

Some cook all weekend, having meals ready to go for the week. Some cook meals throughout the week. Others decide that eating out or grabbing takeout works better for them.

Some women (most, not me though!) are in charge of the family budget. Most women I know manage the family calendar and figure out where everyone needs to be and making sure they get there (relatively) on time.

When I think of a housewife, I think of a mother. Many I know are married, but I know plenty of single mothers. So when I think of housewives, I think of mothers. Because life gets infinitely more confusing when you add little humans.

And I think of housewives as kind of a logistical experts: figuring out how to get meals in everyone’s mouths (hopefully more healthy than not), how to get everyone where they need to go, how to make the money last through the month while keeping a roof over heads, food on the table, and electricity flowing. How to keep the cars in good shape, how to keep the house clean, how to keep those in your house healthy, happy, and safe.

Single moms have it the hardest, because I know, as much as I complain about my husband, he is my support, and I am his. My kids get to do a little more because we’re a team and can work together. Our home runs a little smoother (not smooth, just smoother) because I have a co-manager (although sometimes he’s more of an assistant, and every once and awhile I’m the assistant).

Any way, back to my life as a housewife. At 3:00 I’ll get my younger daughter off the bus. My co-house manager will get our older daughter from her after school activity at 3:30. I’ll run younger to dance, he’ll run older to swimming. While I’m at dance, I’ll do some work in the car. He’ll come home or go to someone else’s home and do some of his work (he’s in restoration and renovation and some handyman-type stuff). I’ll go to a committee meeting (taking younger daughter), finishing work before my deadline at 6:00. Husband will go coach lacrosse at 6:00. Hopefully my meeting will be over at around 7:30, so I can get older daughter from swimming and we can meet my husband at home so we can all it eat dinner together before homework and bedtime.

And then a glass of wine and it’s off to bed.

And tommorow,  I’ll get up and do it all again.

Speaking of Housewives, her is a humorous collection by Helen Ellis:American Housewife.



I watch ten minutes of my favorite movie on TV and lip-synch Molly Ringwald: “I loathe the bus.” I know every word. Sixteen Candles is my Star Wars.

From “What I Do All Day”

I love this little collection of stories. Highlighting my life, and my dark thoughts about my life, but darker, and lighter, and funnier than my life. And by my life I mean the life of an American housewife. And bonus! A couple of the stories are about housewives who also write.

Some of the short stories are hilarious and on point as to life everyday. The first of the stories, “What I Do All Day,” is a run-down of a housewife’s typical day.  “Southern Lady Code” is a hilarious look at what certain descriptors actually mean to a Southern Lady–although I would argue that this ‘Code’ works for all ‘Ladies.’

Other funnies include “Take It From Cats” and “How To Be a Grown-Ass Lady,” which provide such gems as:

Listen to gangsta rap in the privacy of your own headphones. Listen to erotic audiobooks when you scrub the bathroom floor. Worry about cancer. Google menopause. Challenge insurance claims. Ask your friend who’s a shrink if you should see a shrink. Don’t look at your profile because it’s not the mirror or the lighting or the time of day, it’s you.

From “How To Be a Grown-Ass Lady”

Other stories in the collection are darkly funny. Manhattan housewives seem to be more Gothic than the most Southern Gothic of women. Fighting to the death over the style of a shared lobby space. Joining a book club with a very generous benefactor but a very demanding initiation. Taking on the arduous task of ‘firing’ troublesome doormen. Learning to give up a promising writing career to become a woman of influence in the art world.

Readers are also treated to reality shows, bra fittings, childhood pageants, and the crazy worlds of corporate sponsorship and novel writing.

I loved this collection. Quick and quirky and fun, but also dark and twisted. I give it 5 stars. Perfect for nearly any housewife with a sense of humor.





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