This evening as I splayed my exhausted body on the sofa, blearily eyeing my two boys' creative re-working the Playmobil Firestation, my mind wandered over the change in my career status. I am now a "householder." A friend alerted me to this newest term in family member definition, formerly known as "housewife." It's an omni-sexual term for the member of the partnership that steps away from their job/career/passion to raise the family and maintain the home fires. I like this term. It makes me think of a Medieval chatelaine, capably bringing in the castle's wheat harvest, not a hair out of golden fillet, while the lord of the manor is off quelling the Scots. Terribly romantic.
As I splay there, the belt on my fashionably low-cut jeans digging uncomfortably into my lumbar area, my second thought is: What should I wear in my new position? It needs to be something that is comfortable and flexible to move in. It must be easy-care, with a patterned cloth to hide the stains. It needs to camouflage the lumps and bumps of the 20 extra pounds I'm carrying. Then it hit me! I am pretty much describing the muumuu-style housecoat my mother wore in my youth!
My mother was quite an attractive woman. Fanini was tall and curvy, with dark hair and a strong face. She dressed to suit her shape, in tailored skirts and dresses; fashionable, with an eye to subtle details. At least she did in all the photos I've seen of her. When I first knew her, she mostly wore a short sleeved, vaguely Hawaiian, dark blue and green housedress. In fact, in all my Kindergarten portraits of her, she is wearing that dress.
So looking back and doing the math, my mother would have been 44 years old. She would have been out of her career for 5 years. She would have had 4 children and a non-participating husband to care for. She would have canned, cooked, shopped, nursed, drove, and cleaned for all of us in our huge, unreconstructed victorian house. No more career to pursue--out went the Pendleton wool suits. No more evenings at the swank nightspots--out went the low-cut petal pink silk cocktail dress with black edging. It was during this muumuu time that I recall her butt getting pretty wide. I don't recall her ever complaining about it.
So here we go again. Things are both better and different forty years later. My husband is extremely considerate, and really wants to be a good father and supportive husband. I have a small easy-care house. I have lots of conveniences and entertainments to ease my daily drudgery. So what does it mean, this contemplation of the housecoat ? Is it merely because I am middle aged and have finally accepted that now I am, no longer, hot? That I cannot identify 75% of the stars in People magazine? And I don't care? Do I finally realize that this is not going to be just another in a string of personal adventures? That I'm probably going to be doing this until I die? Never again will I attend a New Year's Eve party in my famous black to silver strapless mini-dress. I guess it is time to send it on to the thrift store. Maybe some other fabulous babe will get some mileage out of it. I hope she can appreciate it.