I am proud to say that I was raised by a working mother. Carving out a career for herself in the late 1960’s, she was a tad radical.
From my perspective, she always seemed so very cool and glamorous, rushing around in her trendy business suits as a reporter for our local news bureau. Just like Mary Tyler Moore. I remember seeing her zip off to interview people or attend meetings and luncheons with her colleagues. She was breezy and confident with bright eyes and a wide smile. When she was at work, she was happy. I saw it for myself every time I popped into her newsroom after school hoping to catch a ride home.
I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.
My dad, unfortunately, only ever saw her as someone who never ironed his shirts right, put too much onion in the meatloaf, and couldn’t keep the house clean – not the way his own mother had, apparently.
OK, so I wanted to be just like my mom when I grew up, minus the snippy husband.
But here’s the thing. Over a recent lunch with my sister and I, Dad actually defended Mom’s lack of housekeeping finesse by blaming her mother (my Nana) for not teaching her how to be a housewife. “Not a good one, anyway,” he added.
Per Merriam-Webster, a housewife is “a married woman who stays at home, does cleaning, cooking, etc., and does not have another job outside the home.”
His mother-in-law, my Nana, had put herself through nursing school and served in that noble profession for years to help support her family. So, no, she herself was likely not the embodiment of June Cleaver and quite likely didn’t have time to teach my mother anything. If she did, it was probably something important like how to not sell herself short even if the furniture got a little dusty or the socks were not perfectly paired.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my dad. I do. But I was, and always have been stunned by his inability to see all of the amazing things his award-winning journalist of a wife brought to the table – besides an unsatisfactory entree.
By definition, I am not a housewife. Instead, my mother taught me how to be a plate spinner. A good one. So thanks, mom, for that and for teaching me to find a guy who can make his own meatloaf.