Friday, February 4, 2011

Stiff Upper Lip

Millie writes:

Brady Bunch references aside, most of the time being the wife of an unemployed white-collar worker and the mother of six over-committed kids doesn't do anything but suck.

It's all very well to talk about “self care” and “bubble baths” and “discipline that is loving but firm, quite firm.” Frankly, counteracting the chaos that is my everyday life with “a cup of Starbucks and a nice long stroll through a bookstore” would be like combating a zombie horde with a fly swatter. It just won't cut it.

You need two things to get through the days in a life like mine:

1. A keen sense of the absurd; and
2. The ability to lie convincingly.

Ten years ago I left a disastrous first marriage and struck out with my Soul Mate to build the life and the family of our dreams.

This year I'm going to be 50, Soul Mate has been out of work for 7 of the 10 years, and we've spent the decade dealing with runaways, surgeries, deaths in the family, betrayal from friends, chronic medical problems, eviction, weird religious cults and heartbreak.

You know.

Just like you've spent your last ten years.

I couldn't have survived this long without being able to discern the inherent absurdity of our situation and laugh at it – albeit sometimes hysterically. It may be gallows humor but it's humor nonetheless.

And I'm proud of the fact that our kids think everything in life is peachy-keen: that the divorce was a mutual decision by good friends who just were not meant to be life mates, that Husband is considering lots of job offers, that those 30 phone calls a day from 800 numbers are just surveys.

The Husband has room to think and network, and the kids have a solid foundation from which to launch their own lives, because I am a sneaky, manipulative, half-crazed maniac with a good poker face. What I can't slipcover I deny, defy or sugar-coat.

Come and see the circus. Watch as I make a Thanksgiving dinner out of a giveaway turkey and whatever I can find in the pantry. Get out of bed with me to clean after the Husband is asleep so he won't know I can't keep up with the housework and write, too. See the Husband demolishing his Engineer's Hands to somehow keep my POS van running 30 years past the time it should have been crushed into a cube, so that we will be able to ferry kids and groceries for as long as we can still afford the gas. Listen in as I only cry in the shower so that no one else will know how scared I really am.

Just like yours, my life is a combat zone – me against the rest of the world. We're fighting for my family, who don't even hear the bullets zipping overhead.

Because - yes - I am that good.


  1. Elizabeth Marie writes:

    I guess that "self-care" essay ticked you off? :)

  2. Maggie writes:

    My dearest Millie,
    Happily oblivious kids are a sign that you're doing something right. Prayin' that The Job will be found and that the showers will be filled with tears of joy instead of fear. :hugs: Love ya, lady.

  3. Elizabeth,

    No, I liked that essay. It was actually a woman's magazine article that set me off, with its glib "just go and buy yourself a new hat, Myrtle, and don't worry your pretty little head about anything!" approach.

    Adding yourself to your "Take Care Of" list is smart; it recharges your batteries so that you can STAY in the trenches. A bubble bath won't solve anything, but it will help to keep the maniac at bay!


    Thanks, honey. From your lips to God's ears!

  4. If I can get my comment printed this time, there IS a God.

    That was a wonderful entry.

  5. It worked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Yayyyy! But now the comment box doesn't work on YOUR new post, and it posted UNDER mine.

    I tell ya what. I'm goin' back to peek-a-boo. ;)


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