Yesterday while folding laundry I caught the end of an afternoon talk show with the topic of discussion a woman on strike in an effort to get her husband and three daughters to help around the house. On the hot seat was the much maligned husband who, when asked why he didn’t offer more by way of assistance to his wife when it came to chores responded,”because it’s her job”. Now in my observation, talk show audiences are composed of about 95% women. Uttering these four words in front of such a demographic, not to mention the entire estrogen driven viewing audience, could have the impact of waving a bouquet of scarlet balloons in front of a bull with a painful abscess. Any four words thrown together might have been a better choice. “Because I’m a Neanderthal”, for example, would have served beautifully. An uneasy quiet settled on the crowd, closely followed by a communal murmur and much clicking of tongues. The man is lucky he escaped with his life and all his integral working parts.
As her story continued, the woman in addition to doing everything around the house, was launching her own business further testing her time. To add to her worries, her seventeen year old daughter, never overly burdened with chores or responsibilities, was now heading off to college carrying with her absolutely no life skills whatsoever.
Glaring frequently at the evil prince, the talk show host disptached this latter-day Cinderella to a day spa, while he sent dad and the wicked stepsisters home with a substantial chore list like lambs to the slaughter. Laundry was first on their list. What should have taken five minutes elapsed into a half an hour. Unable to decipher the workings of the dial on the washing machine, apparently requiring a member of Mensa to accomplish the task, their repeated twisting and turning eventually broke the dial. On to the bedrooms, each piled with clothes and makeup. This was corrected by cramming as many clothes and towels as room beneath the beds would permit and opening dresser drawers and essentially sweeping the things on top of the dresser inside and closing the drawers afterwards. Vacuuming was most interesting. Rather than expend the extra time to bend over and move an item, it was sucked into the hose hopefully making it way to the bag before causing a total impaction. I believe they were still searching for a missing cat at the end of the program. As for our evil prince, a grown man who reported daily to a responsible job, he was rendered catatonic when faced with running his home and his children for one afternoon. This serves to reinforce my deepest belief women are the thread keeping the fabric of our society tightly woven. Housewives and mothers are truly the most highly undervalued workers in our social system. What they do to keep the gears meshing smoothly at home is often so taken for granted little thought is given to it at all until they suddenly stop doing it.
When reviewing the times in my marriages where it became necessary to defer to a husband for assistance of a domestic nature, I can’t help but wonder if they purposely did the job so poorly so I wouldn’t ask again, or weren’t cut out to do the job in the first place which is why they figured we were worth a rib back in the day.
Once, when living in Massachusetts, I had to fly unexpectedly to the west coast for a week to support my mother recovering from major surgery. I left behind my husband and two toddlers to run our large house with little time for explanations on exactly how I made that happen. I was assured during phone calls during the week all was well. The first indication that this was somewhat of an exaggeration was when my three-year old daughter greeted me at the door on my return sporting bangs measuring 3″ on the left side and 1/4″ on the right. In the laundry room I discovered several loads of once white laundry in the dryer now tied dyed a lovely shade of cotton candy pink thanks to a red tablecloth twisted around them.
There weren’t words for the kitchen. An economy sized package of paper plates on the counter was probably purchased as backup when the entire supply of washable dishes had been expended. From the wrappers on the dishes piled in the sink and the contents of the unemptied trash container fast food and Pop Tarts had been the food groups of choice for the week. Never can I remember being so appreciated as when I arrived home that day.
Putting my crew to work we found our house under the clutter. The worst behind us while reading my daughter a story before bed she mentioned they’d gone to church on Sunday. Good man. Also mentioned was she had been allowed to dress herself, which she had. Unfortunately, she had forgotten to accessorize with underwear, a fact becoming patently clear when she bent over to pick up her gloves while walking down the center aisle. Ah well, there are other nice churches and other nice towns.
Single mothers, I believe, carry the additional burden of being the only one rowing the boat. Not to diminish any working mother’s responsibilities, but when married or part of a couple it is most helpful, provided your partner is on board, to have a first mate to assume some of the duties. Sorry my nautical puns are flowing like honey from a bee hive today.
It’s not that I mind managing things on the home front, but it’s always nice to be appreciated. Even golden retrievers get an occasional pat on the head. An “atta girl” now and then or a “job well done” helps to keep the old mop soaped, if you get my drift. Early on I taught my children if Mom spent all afternoon cooking to put a delicious meal on the table the response I was looking for definitely was not “what are the green things?” or “I ate at Jimmy’s house”. A simple “thank you” would suffice even if you have to feed your peas to the dog waiting patiently under the table.
So, this is my salute to the mothers and housewives out there. Man your troups, ladies. Shove those behinds off the couch, shut off the computer, take command of the remote and ask them to step away from the big screen. Push “end” on their cell phones and tell them if they need tools you’d like to introduce them to several, although not new still little improved on, a broom and a mop. Life is short and today is the best day to begin at the beginning of changing things around the house.
To say these are delicious would be an understatement. I could eat the whole casserole if left to my own devices. When making them remember they need to be refrigerated overnight.
Cheesy Potato Stacks
4 large russet potatoes, sliced thin
1/2 large yellow onion, sliced thin
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
2 cups parmiagiana reggiano cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper
Spray the bottom of a 9″ casserole dish with cooking spray. Place 1/3 of the onion slices on the bottom of the casserole.
Pour 1/4 cup of heavy cream over top of onions. Stack potatoes like shingles in rows covering bottom. Salt and pepper. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of cheese. Press down with palms of your hands to compress.
Repeat layers three times. Top final layer with 1 cup of cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and cover casserole with foil. Bake for 45 mins. Remove foil and place back in oven for 45 mins. until bubbly and a lovely golden brown.
Allow to sit for 30 mins. until set.