I Am a "Bad Woman"
Catherine of Her Bad Mother wrote The Bad Mother Manifesto
in June of 2009. It is well worth a read and should be read to understand the rest of my post. Really, my post will wait for you.
Catherine neatly covers the problems moms face based on this illusive, faceless perfect mom. I have a different person haunting me. It's the perfect woman. I'm not sure if she's just in my head, but she does haunt me. If only I were less lazy or less sore, maybe I'd be more stylish or have a paying job or just be able to do my entire mental list of everyday household chores.
The problem with this perfect woman is that no matter how I change I still won't be perfect. If I am a perfect housewife, keep my kitchen stocked, floors clean enough to eat off of, and my laundry not only never gets wrinkled by sitting too long in the dryer but is ironed just to make sure it looks perfect, there would still be the lingering wonder if I should also somehow be earning a paycheck and enriching my household that way.
I blame the feminist movement for this mythical perfect woman that haunts me. It's not that I think the feminists were trying to do anything harmful to women. On the contrary, they were trying to make their lives better. Unfortunately, my whole life it has felt like whatever choice I make in life, it's the wrong one.
If I choose to be a housewife (which I did), I can mentally hear people asking why I wasted my time going to college to work on a degree that I am not using. I can hear them asking what value I have to society, being a housewife. If I choose to work, I know that my house will start to look like a tornado hit it because there isn't enough hours in the day to keep it looking neat and clean while working (I've seen it happen). And shouldn't I be ashamed that I can't work so many hours and still stay on top of laundry and dishes, which were the only chores I seemed to handle keeping up as a housewife?
If I choose to have children, I wonder if I should bring more people into this crowded world. If I choose not to have children, I wonder if I'm missing something vital. If I have problems getting pregnant, I wonder if there is something wrong with my body or my choice of husband because I'm not pregnant. If I find that I'm infertile, I'm sure that specter of a perfect woman will haunt me even more. Surely she would handle infertility better and calmer than I would. She wouldn't wonder which things to try or if she can bear it. She wouldn't break down and cry in frustration over having problems. If I choose to adopt, I'm sure I would wonder if I could ever live up whatever I think my child's birth mother would be like or would do.
This perfect woman, the ever changing, illusive being, haunts my mind. I am not perfect. I never have and never will claim to be. And all these questions from these random nosy people, even if they only exist in my mind, they don't ever want to shut up. So, I stop trying to please them.
Instead, I talk with Ace and find out what he wants me to do. While his list of ideal chores I'd get done weekly is much longer than what I actually do accomplish when I have a house to keep, he doesn't complain that it's not enough. He understands that I have limits. He'd rather I not push myself past the point of hurting.
I have to get to the point where I accept that this perfect woman and I will never be the same. I am not going to try to be flawless. My house won't look like I'm devoted to following Martha Stewart's ideas of how a home should look.
And you know what, I think I'm okay with that.
Call me what you will on a scale of good to bad. I'm going to make sure Ace knows that I love him. I'll make sure we have clean clothes, even if they don't make it into the dresser before being worn again. And when we have kids, I'll make sure they know they are more important than how the house looks or getting chores done. And if that eventually makes me a bad mother, that's okay too. My kids will survive.