I’m struggling to find a way to start this post. Normally once I have decided on a topic, I don’t have to worry about the words following; even for posts that deal with more personal issues. Feeling a bit fat? That’s fine. Doubt your capabilities doing an Outfit of the Week post? Understandable.
But these are all ‘safe’ complaints or worries; with this one, I feel a bit alone. I don’t know if it was just a case of having too much time on my hands and an inspiring Facebook video, or the fact everyone seems to be talking about houses. It may even be because that the boyf and I will be sharing a house for a week soon; but whatever this reason, this weekend I set out to be a domestic goddess.
I spent the morning cleaning and tidying and all was well and good. Then one afternoon I faced the fear and declared I was going to bake. I say face the fear because I am a truly terrible cook. One ‘hilarious’ story the boyf likes to drag up every so often is the time I threw common sense out of the window and followed cooking instructions to the letter. This resulted in the ‘calzone exploding all over the oven’ incident that Paul likes to share with others. As he does I tend to laugh it off, but probably not very convincingly; it’s more of a ‘this is not funny and I will murder you as soon as we’re not in public’ type of laugh.
Because, as modern and feminist as I believe I am; admitting, in public, that I am a horror in the kitchen, feels a bit like admitting that I’m a failure of a woman. I’m long past the stage of being oddly proud of my lacking domestic skills. Although I don’t want to be a Stepford Wife, I would like to be able to move in with the boyfriend without worrying about accidentally poisoning him. Women (and men) have a lot of roles to play within modern society; and for most of them I feel I’m doing OK, but this one leaves me feeling like a let-down.
I can clearly recall a few years ago, sat in the university café a male friend was telling me about his new house mate and her amazing cooking skills then closed (killed) the conversation with “yeah but I bet it’s all alien to you” when I asked why he’d assume this, all he could offer was “well, you’re one of these ‘career women’”
The way he stressed the phrase ‘career women’ was both patronising and acted as if that cleared the matter up. He didn’t mean anything by it, but it stung. And stayed. For some reason it painted the image of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Going from husband to husband – all of whom eventually divorce her, presumably due to the lack of attention and domesticity she offers. I am by no means a CEO; I don’t have enough experience to write best-selling books about leaning in to leadership. I’m just starting out in my career; I’m not yet a high-flyer… So then, what’s my excuse for being a fairly rubbish house-wife?
I can tell myself I bring other things to the table; there are other skills or traits that make me worth getting a house with. I can tell myself that I ain’t no 50’s clone, and that the household chores will be split amazingly equally. But still… It’s hard not to feel a bit lacking. Over hundreds of years society has told women, we need to be able to create a home. We need to be domestic goddess, even in this decade we are still taught that we should be able to show our affection by looking after the home or making meals. And when you struggle with this side of things you begin to wonder, to worry. Because historically it has never fared well for women in life or love who fail at one of the ‘basic female roles.’
I suppose realistically, I could focus on practising actual food, rather than baking. But baking just screams ‘homeliness’ doesn’t it? And what homely woman is presumed to be a shit cook?
Although I did follow stupendously simple recipes, the baking went fairly well. A few things got burnt, and I somehow managed to lose some ingredients after they went in the oven (I’m convinced I put apples in every single rose – some roses just didn’t have them when they came out of the oven) but for the most part they were edible. (Bonus: they tasted as they were supposed to!)
So I guess I’ll just keep trying, and maybe slip in some gentle reminders about all my other awesome traits when moving in comes into conversation.