September 25, 2015

The Madness of the Housewife

The Madness of the Housewife

Down she goes into the basement—dark—retrieving lord knows what. It had been so long since she even looked at some of these items. Stored away for the future. A future that now didn't include the role of being a "housewife."

I never really wanted to get married. I had watched my parents marriage come apart part when I was five. Involved in a bitter battle that resulted in me seeing my father periodically—I was back and forth and here and there trying to understand these adults who were my parents. They never really did become parents—more like interesting adults that I loved and became friends with. I was what you would call a "parentified" child, but I really didn't mind.

I watched movies like Shampoo and sang songs like "D-I-V-O-R-C-E." I wandered all over on my bike and enjoyed quite a bit of freedom and independence. My childhood wasn't by any means idyllic, but I never really saw it as deprived or lacking. Money problems were just part of life—like moving to new "flats." It became all about just letting things be. My mother told me often to "go with the flow"—she having learned this relatively young. Life was often an adventure and was more about going with it then getting hung up on your problems.

Getting married seemed like one of those things. Falling in love and becoming a "wife" hadn't worked out for my mother, but maybe it was just her and my father. Little did I know that the people involved oftentimes are eclipsed by the roles and rules of marriage.

I read books by Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar and related to the heartache of "housewife." The dangers of wanting to stick your head in the oven—always babysitting, changing diapers–mending a life of need and want. Going without fun and independence—alone, crying and frustrated with someone that didn't seem right—serving and submitting—a life forced and controlled.

I knew as an artist that the whole head in the oven thing was possible. I knew how difficult it was to find time to create and also bear the demands of being a parent—it was unrelenting and challenging. Even though I wasn't a parent the demands on my time as a housewife were continuous and getting worse as time went by.

Leaving the psych ward, I thought of how I ended up here. Sylvia would know that I had made a wrong turn somewhere and the madness that was stalking me was the role I had been forced to play rather than the person I was. I felt suffocated and deprived—forced down a dark hole with no way out. Only now I was coming up for air and the darkness was clearing. There was a light in the distance and I was hearing my mother telling me to just go with it. Make something out of this and go on. Who really cares—so it ends and something else begins.

I knew then it was going to be okay to no longer be a housewife and instead just go with it and be me.  Being grateful for these strong women I knew who struggled with the same things. Being a wife had taught me so much, but now it was time to move on, take care of myself and reconnect with my own life. It was good for a long time, but now it was time to "go with the flow."




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