Remember that crazed clown at the circus? She was the one spinning a dozen flaming torches while peddling a unicycle on a high wire as the out-of-tune calliope wheezed out a medley of manic music. Young women today probably aren’t impressed with frenetic clown tricks because that vision represents their daily life – a never-ending juggle of family, job, home, community, and self.
In fact, the clown has an easier reality because her show ends at 10:00 pm and women still have two loads of laundry, a sink full of dirty dishes, The Spawn needs cupcakes for school in the morning, and Romeo wants to score tonight.
I’m here to remind you that all the dishes and laundry will never be done until you’re well into your fifties, and way too soon The Spawn will have a tart of his own and won’t need your culinary skills. That leaves Romeo. So turn off the lights (to add romance and hide the dust bunnies,) don something flimsy, and go for it while you’re still awake. Batteries optional.
I was a working mother back in the olden days when women were supposed to stay home, wear pearls with aprons, and make casseroles that included canned soup and frozen peas. I should have added crescent rolls but I could never get those damn cans to pop at the seams. They always exploded onto the ceiling so I just left the dough to hang and harden in mysterious clumps and called it art.
My kids would be positively giddy if I cooked the pasta first before serving their favorite macaroni and cheese dinner. But, I usually didn’t have time to boil water so I encouraged them to chew slowly and enjoy all the roughage. That was back during the early 1980s, before computers, cell phones, and Oprah. I had to find enlightenment and empowerment on my own while fighting the urge to run away and join the circus.
During the work week, I existed on five hours of sleep, fed the kids, took them to child care, worked nine hours, retrieved the little darlings, concocted something edible for dinner, gave them baths, read stories, and tucked them into bed. Then I did the housework while some clueless zealot chortled on television about bringing home the bacon, frying it in a pan, and then pleasing my man. Hell, in reality I wanted to throw some bologna in the microwave, serve it on paper plates, snuggle into my worn t-shirt, and tell the man of the house to bring me some wine and then take a rain check.
I want young mothers to know that the merry-go-round eventually stops and you can get off, maybe with the help of a sturdy cane. Age brings a certain freedom and wisdom that is elusive when you’re under age 40. My kids now are grown, married, and creating their own personal circuses at home. I enjoy grabbing some popcorn, taking my place in the bleachers, and cheering from the sidelines. And, by now I don’t have to clean up after the elephants.