In a frenzied world, if you work full-time, you’re out of time
I need a wife. Or maybe I need a household manager. A life systems assistant? Whatever it is, I need one – and so do a lot of people I know.
No, I’m not talking about needing a real wife (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). I’m a wife myself in a full-on heterosexual marriage. I don’t need anybody to duplicate the best parts about being a wife: caring for and loving someone else, being part of a family, building a life with my husband. I can do all that stuff, thank you. I don’t want or need help with that.
What I’m talking about is the increased needs a lot of people have for someone to handle all the zillion, niggling little tasks of life.
Now before you write me a scathing letter about what a nightmare to feminism I am, hear me out.
What modern American society needs to develop is a new professional – someone who all working people could afford to budget into their lives. We need a wife: not a personal assistant – that would be far too expensive – and not a nanny – we already have those and that whole part-of-the-family-but-not-really scenario can be a bit odd.
We need a nonjudgmental, straightforward wife to make sure all that stuff that never gets done gets done. The only problem is that this person would more likely be a “thing” than a human. Nobody is that good.
We all know whether you’re single or married, if you work full-time, you’re out of time.
The modern American workweek is the real culprit here. Who says we have to work 40 hours five days a week? Who made this rule up? What this means is if you’re on a set schedule like a lot of people are, you’re working while everyone else is working. So while you might be working away in an office or on the ski hill, so is the vacuum cleaner repairman. When you’re done with work, so is the repairman. Design flaw! When are we ever supposed to get the vacuum fixed?
From paying bills to cleaning the house to doing the laundry to feeding the pets to going to the dry cleaners to getting a better mortgage rate to going grocery shopping to getting the car fixed to calling in prescriptions to sorting through the garage to shoveling the walk to taking the vacuum cleaner in to be fixed … you catch my drift, right?
Once upon a time, couples set up house. (Actually, I think this scenario is pretty much pure fantasy.) The husband went off to work in his suit and tie and brought home the bacon while the wife stayed home and managed the household. She cooked and cleaned and paid the bills and made sure that dinner was on the table promptly at 7 p.m. Mr. Husband could make enough money at this job so that Mrs. Wife didn’t have to work outside the home. She had a fulltime job keeping the house running and the family in order. This sounds horrific in a Stepford Wives sort of way, but it also sounds a whole lot more organized than most people’s lives nowadays. It’s way more organized than mine.
What happens now is that both people in a relationship work. Out the door in the morning, they’re both back – and exhausted – by the time the sun sets. There’s no time during the workday to research new mortgage rates or figure out what’s wrong with the downstairs toilet. A wife could do this. You can’t.
If you’re single, you still need a wife. You don’t make near the mess that two people – or a family – does, but you still want to do something more in your time off than chores. Weekends should be for the chore of skiing, the chore of relaxing, the chore of getting together with friends and laughing.
It’s so ironic that we’ve managed to create an amazing amount of technology to supposedly make our lives run faster, smoother, sleeker. There’s FedEx, faxes, computers, e-mail, Internet, Palm pilots, speed dial, answering machines, on and on. But because we are expected to run so fast now, we can’t keep up.
What have we created? We’ve created a subhuman pace, an unrealistic expectation that we can bring home that bacon and fry it up in a pan, then take care of all of life’s million and one little details. Well, maybe we can’t. Maybe we can’t run our lives like clockwork. Maybe we just need to let that clock run just a little bit slower.
A friend of mine told me – in-between a wicked bout of coughing – that she thought she was getting sick. She and her husband are raising three kids, and both work full time. Besides that, she rattled off a list of responsibilities – including directing a school play, volunteering for a non-profit organization and attending courses for a master’s degree. She looked pretty dang overwhelmed.
So what’s the answer? I’m not going to get my Stepford Wife clone to help me out, and neither are you. But what we can get is a perspective on how fast and efficient we expect ourselves to be. Easing up on our own personal accelerator is a start.
Carrie Click is a Post Independent staff writer. Her column runs on Tuesdays.
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