Why am I always late to the party? And by party I mean Mad Men. I am currently binge watching this series. It fascinates me. As one of those kids who were born in the 60’s I watch this show and look at the mothers, fathers and society and think “wow, that sure explains my childhood”.
I am one of those moms who loves her children fiercely, wanted to be the one who raised them so made huge sacrifices to be a stay at home mom. At the time, I thought I was sacrificing things. Hindsight is an amazing thing. This is not true, We survived just fine without ‘things’. What I sacrificed in many ways was me. The intellectual me. The self-esteem me. The me who did things a certain way to get through the day and now it is an expectation of those around me to keep it up. HA…that’s not going so well. I created monsters and now am trying to undo all those things – like dinner ready at 5, like ultra planned events, like parties where details are lovely.
I pretty much have unzipped that persona and stepped into the new me where I am usually still studying at 5, food is fuel – you don’t see dinner? Make it yourself – you are capable because I taught you. Parties? How about we meet at a restaurant? That way I don’t have to care about what my house looks like. I have pretty much become a man of the 60’s. I would love a 60’s house wife…but who wouldn’t?
I had a grandmother who had 5 children. She did house work and cooked but always changed into a nice dress and but on makeup before my grandfather came home. She said he worked hard and it was the woman’s job to pamper the man and to put herself together and look nice for him. Dinner’s ready, wife is cute, children are sparkling… wow.
This is not something I ever did. Should I have? Would it have made a difference?
Did the man actually appreciate what the woman did? Not sure. It isn’t like that on Mad Men. It is an expectation. It was an expectation of my grandfather too. My father just expected food and quiet. At the end of his day, he needed 30 minutes of solitude before dinner. I soooooo understand that. He never cooked, actually, the time my mom was in the hospital, he did cook. Once. I then took over cooking duties. How can you expect someone to do something well if they had never been taught? Or had time to practice? You can’t…or shouldn’t…. just teach them. Now that dad is retired he is starting to learn, but mom still makes all the meals and looks after him that way. I suspect it has more to do with her feelings for him then it being an obligation because I learned about feminism from my mom. Besides, my mom really and truly loves to cook.
I HATE COOKING. I hate being a restaurant. I detest cooking meat.
I fail as a housewife of the 60’s.
I am cool with that.
But what I didn’t anticipate is how I feel about the men of the 60’s.
I like their assertiveness. I like their vulnerability. They were the providers and it was stressful. That isn’t an expectation anymore, it is a shared burden. As difficult as it is for men now, I think it might have been harder for them in the 60’s. Aside from the condescending attitudes towards women, I really think bearing the brunt of all financial matters was a tough position to be in.
So I watch Mad Men with a keen sense of nostalgia and it has my childhood making perfect sense…the the 70’s came along and ruined everything from weird attitudes to fashion. The 70’s and 80’s were just wrong.
Do I wish I was an adult in the 60’s? No…I prefer the hierarchy of today.