She said

She said I was becoming quite domestic.

To any liberated woman who came of age in the 90's, this could be insulting. But I knew what it meant to her. She wouldn't have to come in and clean up after me when I stayed for the night; she could count on me to help with the dishes and the dinner prep for the 12 plus people who were visiting on that sunny Cape weekend in June; she could begin to speak to me as a woman rather than a child. Being domestic was, in fact, entirely complimentary.

Now that she is gone, I think about this interaction often. I remember Mom telling me that she said that. And I am proud that I knew enough to be flattered rather than to be indignant ("I am a Graduate student, not a house wife!") and to understand the spirit of the words.

And I do garner a lot of joy from keeping a clean, cozy home. I enjoy having the recycles done, the candles burning, clean dishes in the rack. I get this from Mom and I honor it in that way. It is probably also the Zen experience of "doing the dishes while doing the dishes" and the American desire to have instant gratification (the bed is made!).

I feel the culmination of many women in my house keeping and instead of feeling any oppression, I embrace my domestic skill as a choice - and, of course, a compliment.


Two notes: (1) My husband is very involved in our housekeeping, and (2) this essay honors Georgia and Jennifer Foley.


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