Thursday, January 26, 2012

I've Got Something For You!

I was surprised at how pleased my cousin-in-law's husband was to see me. He's a sweet and funny guy, and I love being with that part of the family. But when I walked in the door at their holiday party this year, he jumped up to greet me specially: "I've got something for you!" he enthused, and ran off to get it.

"It" was a moldy sock. Well, more specifically, it was a treasured relic of his childhood, a handmade Christmas stocking that suffered greatly during its internment in a damp basement. The stocking was speckled with mildew, and Santa had a creepy beard of white frothy mold growing over his face. "Do you think you can fix it?" Eric asked hopefully.

That's when I realized that my fame and reputation (within the extended family at least) was built on domestic problem-solving. At first I was taken aback by this, even though I knew it was intended to be an honor. I mean, better Suzy Homemaker than, say, Crazy Cat Lady or the Strict Aunt, but I do not really feel old enough to be accorded status as the tribe's creaky but full-of-useful-lore crone, and I'd like to think that my stints as a CEO and college professor had meaning, too, at least in terms of impressing my family.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that being The Crone IS a signal honor, and resourcefulness in housekeeping is a quality I should be celebrating, not deprecating. Like many people, I have spent most of my life believing that cleaning the house is a thankless, never-ending series of tedious tasks and drudgery -- but a few weeks ago, I had an epiphany. It's embarrassing, but true: I was on my hands and knees scrubbing our seriously dirty kitchen floor, and I remembered my junior high dream of becoming the first woman president of the United States, and that my present-day performance as scullery maid was not what 8th-grade me had in mind. Before I could go all Cinderella on myself, I realized that I am lucky to be where I am -- at home -- instead of trying fitfully to run the free world. Managing this single-family dwelling is a job that requires intelligence, cunning, resourcefulness, focus, dedication, and patience. I'm done with downplaying Suzy Homemaker -- I'm going for glory, polishing the brass ring, making a clean sweep of things. Domestic divas unite!