Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Role of the Woman

Do you “fix a plate” for your husband?

It’s 1973. My stepfather, EJ, is sitting at the dining room table. Mom walks to him from the small galley kitchen, carrying a plate of food and places it on his table mat. She comes back and we maneuver at the stove, spooning food onto our plates, and then join him.

A minute into the meal, EJ says, “Lil, pass me some salt.” She pops up from her chair, the one closest to the kitchen entrance (for convenience), to get the salt.

This scene played out many times during my teen years. She got the salt, butter, a napkin, refill of a beverage – whatever. One day, I asked, “Mom, why are you interrupting your meal to get EJ the salt?” I acted it out for them, popping up from my chair to get the salt.

We all laughed.

My fifteen year old mind didn’t understand why my mom looked like a waiter in a restaurant.

Throughout the years, Mom taught me the realities of womanhood. One statement I remember, “He brings home his check and gives it to me; I have a meal for him on the table – even if we’re not speaking.”

As a child, I thought, “Surely this is a parent thing. Younger women don’t “do that.” (I must have thought “forty” was old.)


My contemporaries “do that.”

I’ve learned that in addition to serving the food, waitress style, they:
-shop for his clothes
-lay out his clothes for work
-drive “their kids” everywhere they need to go
-take out the trash and recycle
-get his approval on her outfit
-let him decide the time of intimacy
-go to bed when he goes
-get up when he gets up
-let him decide the car she will drive…

What have I left out Girls?

Before I married, Husband and I took a premarital class, which I recommend for couples headed towards marriage. One thing I remember hearing is, “a woman is flexible and adaptable,” and a third thing that I wish I can remember. Does that mean we are wired to be more capable of pampering, submitting, and catering?

This is all generalizing, of course.

Once in a while, on one of my “don’t want to cook days,” I think of my girlfriend’s husband’s reason for buying his four year old daughter a pretend kitchen set. He was so proud of the purchase, and announced that it will prepare her for cooking when she grows up and gets married.

Guess my parents should have bought one for me.

Hmmm…I think I did have one. What happened?

Just having a little fun here.

Seriously, so many of you are great cooks…and, everyone has to eat!

We all demonstrate our love and care for our mate in various ways. I’m just wondering what we “enjoy” doing, versus what we do because we’ve been taught that it’s our role - whether we enjoy it or not.

Should we view our role as contributing to the success of the relationship, and not be bogged down with the specifics of “who does what?” Or, should we renew our subscriptions to Ms. Magazine?