|BWS Stories - "Go Your Own Way": Discovering Midlife Passions|
"Go Your Own Way": Discovering Midlife Passions - This Woman's Liberation
This Woman's Liberation
Okay, I’ll admit I didn’t have the must-keep-the-house-spotless thing too hard. I am an immigrant from England - did you know that English women had the reputation of being the worst housekeepers in Europe? So my eventual liberation from such craziness was obviously in my genes.
My favorite childhood “giggle” is the memory of my mother hiding our sticky desert bowls in the oven when company suddenly appeared at the doorstep of our remote farm house. Somehow, the idea of putting the bowls, complete with leftover ice-cream in the oven, made me laugh. I don’t think the average farm wife would have cared about our late and lazy lunch. However, the seed had been sowed. Good women were good housekeepers - or they faked it!
An early marriage, before I was even twenty, put any early slipshod attitudes to housekeeping in hibernation. It started with not being able to leave the house without making the bed - I refused to go even the night I was due at the hospital with labor pains a few minutes apart. I vacuumed and dusted with depressing regularity. I kept stick finger prints off our avocado appliances. I never picked up that novel that called to me before four in the afternoon. When our boys went off to school, I used the time to buzz around and get everything clean and shiny again. When I went back to school, I lasted the first four years by doing all the work and making the supper with the other hand, so to speak, before breaking down and hiring some help twice a month.
Now, our sons’ teenage years did put a little crack in my determination/obsession re housekeeping. In the interest of fostering creativity, I felt my sons’ rooms should be their own. They decorated them - have you seen walls of grey covered in black rock posters? Draped with those long white athletic socks that were in vogue? You have? Well, you are as old as me!
There comes a day when even the messiest and youngest little bird spreads his wings and leaves the nest - or, in our case, his private nest that featured a walled-in bed, an aquarium complete with an always-hungry piranha, and two garbage bags of mismatched socks. Before the health inspector could appear, we pulled his Shangri-la to bits and had it out on a front lawn. We had eyed on the space for a few months, it could make a wonderful open master bedroom (and it did). We rose to the challenge and fought through the mountain of dust balls, the ring-around-the-room grunge and gave the skeleton of a long lost newt a decent burial. Now this was a person who did not - and has not, fallen in the trap of obsessive cleanliness or determined neatness.
As life rolls along, we came face to face with retirement and pondered the possibility of a move to the area where we vacationed. Finding a delightful little cottage, we threw caution to the winds and put our own home up for sale. A buyer was found in record time and we, somewhat stunned, were suddenly doing our last housekeeping for the home that had been ours for more than thirty years.
Possibly you noticed my use of the word “we”. My husband, who retired first, did the lion’s share of the packing and cleaning. Maybe that was the first symptom of “the change”. Housekeeping isn’t a feminine noun. That is why I now can drop my vacuum in mid-task and write this article. Our little cottage feels like a vacation home, and would you spend your holidays running yourself ragged to keep such a home pristine? Definitely not!
I, the newly liberated woman, plan to spend the best part of this afternoon on our pretty porch and gaze at the roses, drink lemonade and make not-to-do lists! Or perhaps I should start transforming our cleaning cupboard into a bookcase? Hmm.