Monday, December 10, 2012

Donna Reed, Carol Brady and Me

I had this expectation that when I retired, I'd become Suzy Homemaker. My house would be neat and clean because I'd have time to do these things. My family would get real dinners instead of whatever I could throw together between 4:30 and 6 because I'd forgotten to defrost something - again.

Those of you who know me are rolling on the floor laughing. Please rejoin me once you pull yourselves together.

The truth is, I've always had this crazy notion that I should be Donna Reed - the TV mom, not the actress. The reality is, I'm more like Carol Brady - without an Alice. I don't enjoy cooking and I enjoy cleaning even less. I love organizing spaces and bringing order to chaos, which is a good thing because my house, my family and my housekeeping habits (or the lack thereof) provide me with plenty of opportunities to do those things.

The truth (yes, another one) is that I'm messy. I'm not a slob - I understand the difference between trash and treasure and have no problem getting rid of the former. I also like going through piles of accumulated belongings (mostly papers in my house) and deciding what to do with all of it. And, make no mistake, I consider shredding, recycling and trashing all to be viable options. In fact, I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment when I have organized even a small section of a room...until I look around and realize what a drop in the ocean that small section is, even in my little house.

I suppose it's not too late to change - to develop new habits and become my own version of Donna Reed - but the fact is, my family likes dinners that go from the freezer to the table, preferably in a breaded form that mimics fried appetizers at a restaurant. The meals I make from scratch and/or anything healthy I try to serve is greeted with appreciation, but not a lot of enthusiasm. And there are so many other things I would rather do than cook or clean. Write a blog (or a book). Read a magazine (or a book). Play a game, sing a song, do a show.

I've always thought that part of being a grown-up was setting aside the fun stuff until after you'd done what needed to be done - eating dessert after you've eaten your veggies. But maybe all that does is make you a stuffy grown-up. We've all been given gifts and talents - and I believe they come from God - and if God, in His infinite wisdom determined that I should be better at writing books than cooking meals, and at organizing closets than scrubbing floors, then who am I to argue? Yes, I realize that sounds like a juicy rationalization (especially to my fellow Big Chill fans), but bear with me.

I'm not saying that I should abdicate all household responsibility. Tempting though that may be some days, I happen to like preserving my marriage and setting an example for my daughter. Sure, a certain amount of cooking and cleaning has to happen - and I rarely complain about doing laundry, as it's one household chore I don't really mind - but until I can afford Alice, my own cooking and cleaning isn't likely to be at a Donna Reed level, and there's no way my house will look like Carol Brady's. And that's okay. Because, after all, that's fiction and this is real life. And no one knows that better than a writer.

Especially a household skill-deprived one.

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