There’s always some kind of “advice for moms” article making the rounds in my social media feed. On one level, that’s fine. Great even. I’m a mom. I like advice.*
But some of these articles? “10 simple ways to thrive as a homemaker!” “7 habits of highly effective housewives!” If June Cleaver and the Stepford Wives read them for book club, they’d look at each other and go, “Ummm… That’s a bit much.”
Google some combination of “keeper of the home,” “thrive,” and “SAHM” and behold:
“Get up before your kids so you can dress to the nines!” “Bask in the joy of motherhood at all times because once you have kids your home is your everything!” “Make sure dinner is on the table and the house is spotless at the end of the day!”
Now, the initial reaction of many modern women might be along the lines of, “Wow. 1952 called and it wants its zeitgeist back.” But me? I think these one-size-fits-all, uber-restrictive articles are spot on. Because here’s the thing, moms: Everything you’re doing is bad, wrong, and/or not good enough.
Here are some friendly** tips for truly embracing the joys of being a stay at home mom*** that conveniently highlight all the ways you, personally, are failing as a woman:
1. You’re not focusing enough on maintaining your sexual attractiveness. You have a husband. And if you don’t, you need to get one right away because being married is the be all and end all of womanhood. If you want to keep your man, you need to please the all mighty male gaze.
You just had a baby and haven’t had 3 hours of consecutive sleep in six months, let alone time to hit the gym and maintain your manicure? While your husband is out doing his man-stuff, he sees women who are well rested, toned, and perfectly put together every. single. day. It’s completely unreasonable to expect him to remain committed to his home life under those circumstances. So step up your game, ladies. If he cheats, you’ve only got yourself to blame.
Also? None of this “But I enjoy expressing myself sartorially” or “I want to rekindle my sex life for me” stuff. It’s not about you, you selfish jerk. It’s about your duty to him. Adhere to his preferences and then lay back and think of rainbows.
2. You have opinions about things that are unrelated to the home and children. You think that new trailer for Game of Thrones was neat? You’re interested in med school? Perhaps you’d like to learn more about the situation in Syria? NOPE. Stuff like that is for men-folk. One hundred percent of your time must be spent wife-ing and mothering. A knitting group and/or baking club *might* be an acceptable hobby, but be sure to check with your husband and children before you go having ideas about things you like.
3. You see your husband as an equal partner in marriage and parenting rather than as your boss. Marriage and motherhood aren’t about forming strong relationships with your partner and children. Family members shouldn’t make the choices that work best for them given their own specific situation and personalities in order to establish a dynamic that results in a happy, healthy family unit.
No. Mother-ing and wife-ing is a job complete with a supervisor and a set of impersonal performance evaluation criteria. You get married. Your husband is your boss now. So make with the serving him. As discussed in #1, you can’t expect your husband to exercise control over his genitals like a mature, responsible adult if there are other women out there who are willing to greet him at the door with a drink and a full face of make-up. Especially when you expect your husband to do crazy stuff like actively parent his children and engage in domestic tasks aside from lawn- mowing. STOP EMASCULATING YOUR HUS-BOSS.
4. Your home isn’t spotless. Ladies, you are the heart of the home. And you know what a chaotic home with a sink full of dishes and an unmopped floor signifies? It has a cold, worthless heart.
5. Your cooking isn’t up to snuff. You must cook a healthy meal that everyone loves, on time and on budget, three times a day, every day of your entire life. Stop acting like that’s daunting. In between maintaining your physical appearance to the standard of others, suppressing your outside interests and opinions, catering to your husband’s every need, maintaining an immaculate home, and child birthing/rearing, it’s not like you have anything else to do.
6. Your children do not fill you with joy at all times. Children are a blessing. It therefore follows that everything they ever do should fill you with joy. Diaper blow out? What a beautiful miracle! Epic public tantrum? Satisfying on a soul-deep level. Whining? It’s exactly what I dreamed of as a girl; it’s like a chorus of angels! Only broken, un-womanly women find these things annoying.
7. You’re under the mistaken impression that you matter as a person in your own right. “Look,” you might say, “I love my husband and children. However, a lifestyle focused on #1-#6 just doesn’t work for me. If it works for you, then go for it. But I feel it’s best for me and my family if I don’t suffer a psychotic break.”
INCORRECT RESPONSE. When you get married and have kids you cease to be an autonomous individual with your own unique personality, hopes, and dreams. That’s just science. So it’s impossible for these to be your true feelings. Go ask your family what your feelings should be.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. As wives and mothers, it is our duty to engage in solemn reflection about all of the other things we’re probably doing wrong. So what do you think? What other ways are you failing your husband, children, and lady parts by being a human being with needs and ideas of her own? Internalized misogyny is the best kind of misogyny.
* Unless that advice is unsolicited. Then you can suck it.
** You can tell they’re friendly tips because I say they’re friendly. Even if they come off as shaming and beyond condescending.
*** I say “stay at home mom” and not “stay at home parent” because, clearly, if you have a penis it’s impossible to care for children, cook, or clean. Also? “Stay at home mom” is the only valid kind of mom.