One day many moons ago, when I was probably around 11 or 12, my truly beloved grandmother decided to impart some wisdom. “When you are married, you should always make sure you look nice when your husband comes home,” she told me, tidying up the kitchen, which was always spotless and the scene of innumerable made-from-scratch meals.
I can’t remember exactly how I responded, but it was something along the lines of, “Oh, Gram! You are so OLD-FASHIONED!” This was a bit unfair, since my grandmother, a homemaker for most of her life, was exceedingly well-read and well-informed and quite capable of besting most anyone in a debate on current politics.
But I was a LIBERATED middle-schooler, intent on an adulthood that would set the world on fire one Great American Novel at a time. I might have a husband and children, sure, but I would be a LIBERATED WOMAN first and foremost. (We were covering women’s lib in school. It was evidently a pivotal prepubescent moment, plus I had just found out that my favorite New Kid on the Block had a girlfriend, the lousy peckerhead.)
For some reason, I thought of this conversation with my grandmother the other night. Adam had just walked in the door from work and I was simultaneously trying out a new recipe, sweeping crud from the kitchen floor, and attempting to walk Aura through an unfamiliar and deafeningly loud computer game, while wearing the same shirt I had pulled on 11 hours ago and a pair of ratty sweatpants, my hair in a ponytail that stuck out from the top of my head like a particularly unattractive horn.
I looked down at myself and thought, Sorry, Gram. Yet for all my talk, for all my lack of interest in put-togetherness at 6:30 p.m., there I am, just like she was, tidying up a kind-of-spotless kitchen, the scene of innumerable kind-of-homemade meals.
It’s bizarre sometimes, isn’t it? So much changes, and then so much stays the same. You work. Or you stay at home. Or you work and stay at home. And whatever you do, you find yourself both defensive and proud, and then you change into sweatpants at the end of the day.
They didn’t cover all the in-betweens, all the nauseating nuances, in that women’s lib unit in junior high. I’m finding that liberation is as liberation does. Which is how most things should be.
Plus that New Kid I liked? Totally turned out to be gay. Proof that you never, EVER see what’s coming next.