The Local Park

The local park is a repository of frustrated motherhood, womanhood. I had forgotten the sheer insanity and inanity of preschool childrearing. The whining is endless and boring, a siren call with no allure. A siren call that mothers are compelled to answer for reasons of necessity. Dutifulness is everywhere. Pleasure, less so.

I awaited the start of school as an oasis during the summer. School semesters bring their own challenges and stressors, but it also brings mid-morning October runs, long writing sessions, and cool afternoons. The emotional management of children is not my preferred job. Their boredom tires and infuriates me. These are the moments when I know that I cannot ever go back to homeschooling my children.

These are also the moments when I look at the new-ish mothers with their young children, and I remember how endless those days felt. I remember the way we would sprint through our days, me cramming too much in and not getting enough sleep. My children frequently clinging to my back or in my arms, balanced against one of my hips. The unending story times, potty breaks, food messes, laundry, diaper changes, public and private emotional meltdowns (theirs and mine). And now none of that is my daily life. Everything has changed. Our developmental milestones and daily needs are comparatively alien.

My morning in the local park reminded me that every single boring, exhausting part passes. Every emotional milestone: passes. The sore arms from carrying children, pushing strollers, juggling bags: all of it passes. The mental wear and tear from the constant interruptions, questions, and songs also pass away. And this gives me hope for the things I am currently facing as a parent. The beginnings of puberty, the addictive qualities of screens, balancing technology with real-life interactions, teaching these humans the skills to survive as adults. It will all come together and eventually fall away.

All I can do–all I could ever do–is live in this moment.

A Day in the Life of a Lesbian Housewife

When I wake up, my wife has already been up for an hour. She has done yoga, made coffee, and now has the vibrating intensity of someone who has had a cup or three. She is a poster child for all things disciplined and industrious. I try to match her by combing my hair before I go downstairs while herding our two children down to breakfast.

Breakfast is the meal that we consistently have together as a family. The kids hate bringing a full lunch to school, preferring to bring a collection of snacks, so I insist on a hot breakfast. Sometimes this is a serene and connecting family experience. Frequently it is a chance for either my wife or me to say, “Let’s have kids, you said. It’ll be fun, you said.” Sarcasm is on our family crest, right beside existential angst.

If it is a rushed morning, I take the kids to school in yoga pants, a t-shirt, and an oversize sweater stolen from my wife’s closet. If I’m going from the school to a library or coffee shop to write, I’ll dress it up with jeans, a t-shirt, and the same stolen sweater. When I’m working, comfort and ease always beat out style and neatness. It’s the perk of the freelance lesbian housewife–not having to care. At least some of the time.

At home, my housewife style combines wildly varying standards of cleanliness and DIY creativity. Examples:

  1. I make my own bread. My method is stupidly easy: it takes a bread machine and five ingredients. But I get big housewife points for being able to say I make my own bread.
  2. I regularly consider getting out the vacuum but then forget (or neglect) to vacuum for months at a time.
  3. I never dust. That’s what the bi-monthly vacuuming is for.
  4. I wash dishes because the sink is nearly always at capacity. We cook and eat at home most of the time, ergo an equivalent number of dirty dishes and pans. Keeping up with the flow of crockery is its own part-time job.
  5. I see a beautiful chunky knit headband in a sales email from Etsy. I bet I could make that myself from a skein in my yarn stash. I spend an hour trying to find a copycat pattern, start and finish the headband, decide to make one for all the women I know.
  6. I randomly decide to wash all of the windows. The Windex-ed rags provide evidence of my essential worth. This in no way correlates to writing deadlines or procrastination.
  7. I make dinner most weekday nights. This is the way we have divided up the meal prep in our relationship. Some nights, dinner is risotto with homemade stock, or beef stroganoff, or chickpea tikka masala. But it could just as easily be scrambled eggs and tater tots, baked potatoes, or bean burritos. I also keep an emergency frozen pizza on hand for the nights when everything goes to hell. Twice a week on average, in case you were wondering.
  8. Most days I also run errands, work in the yard, tend the few plants we have, check on the fruit trees, do laundry, provide homework help, and take care of my own exercising and social needs.

These housewife tasks are mish-mashed and dissected to fit into my life as a freelance writer. I love doing both, having one foot in the daily effort of managing my home and the other foot in the world of ideas and stories and, yes, even deadlines. The housewife life gives me a place to ground myself with the quotidian, the homely, the mundane, the earthly. The writing life gives me the opportunity to create stories, play with ideas, travel, and make an income with a flexible schedule.

So what makes the lesbian housewife life so different from the hetero housewife life? Well, for one, the sex is significantly different. Otherwise, they are pretty similar except perhaps for one major difference. My wife can (and has) done all of the same household tasks that I do. My role in our household was chosen and designed by me, not by her or by any handed-down gender roles. And because we each have the ability to completely run the household, my wife honors and appreciates the work that I do to keep our house running as well as the creative work that I do to keep myself happy. This is the give-and-take fluidity of managing a household in a lesbian relationship, and every day I feel lucky to be a part of it.