Tonight at dinner, Mike said:
“I didn’t realize I was married to a little Martha Stewart!”
Before him sat a plate of warm, crisp crab cakes, buttered and salted corn on the cob and a steaming, fluffy-centered baked potato, so yes, he was giving me a compliment. But lest you think I’m getting a big head, I’ll confess right now that I’m no Ms. Stewart. Those crab cakes were pre-made, and all I had to do was throw them in the oven on 375 degrees along with the potatoes whilst I boiled the corn. Martha would have plucked fresh vegetables from her home garden. She would have caught the crabs herself, in her teeth, while completing the swimming leg of a triathlon. She’s that good.
Though I strive for perfection around the house, I am a long way from achieving it. In fact, I don’t know if it’s even possible or if it’s something I should want to obtain, but I do like to live in a clean home, and I do like to cook, so why not try to be better in those two areas? So far, I’ve had some failures–it was high comedy the first day I tried to use the hose, and today, I nearly passed out from heat exhaustion while weeding–and successes–I’ve baked zucchini bread and prepared some dinners that didn’t involve pre-heating the oven and kicking my feet up on the couch.
Since moving to a single family home, I’ve been dismayed to find that the time it takes to clean the house has more than doubled. Last week, our former neighbors came to visit, and I spent a grueling four hours tidying every inch of the place. It was satisfying once I finished, but it was also a little sad. Today, it took me only two hours to do the same, which was a relief, but each time I pass a crumb I missed or a spot on the counter that needs re-wiping, well, let’s just say it’s a little frustrating. I bet I could eat a crab cake off of Martha’s garage floor because it’s so clean. Sure, she doesn’t do the work herself, but she could.
A new couple moved in next door to us last Friday, a very lovely pair whom Mike and I like very much. I saw a recipe in Martha Stewart Living (of all places) for nectarine cupcakes, and I wanted to try them right away. I knew they’d be just the right thing to bake for our new neighbors, and though I haven’t gotten 100% comfortable with my oven just yet, I went for it anyway. Sometimes I’m impetuous or careless, and things don’t turn out the way I’d like, but for some reason, the universe was cooperating, and the cupcakes were better than I’d hoped. For a couple of hours, I was Martha Stewart-esque.
I love it when a plan comes together.
There are a lot of things I long to be: a decent writer, a good teacher, a solid friend. I haven’t ever considered myself to be a traditional kind of girl, and I don’t feel that my primary purpose in life is to cook and clean for my spouse. In a move that would shock the younger version of myself and make several of my friend gag, I do take a lot of pride in certain aspects of homemaking. I find that it feels kinda good to live in an orderly home and to eat food that hasn’t been plucked from the bottom of a grease-stained paper bag. So, okay, yesterday we grilled hot dogs, but today we feasted on crab cakes, people. Crab cakes.
For too many reasons, I will never be Martha Stewart, but I do appreciate the comparison. There are too many expectations, too many worries about falling short of perfection that come along with being the Grande Dame of Everything Domestic. But, after a day of straightening and weeding and running errands and putting dinner on the table, it’s nice to have a partner who not only notices, but makes you feel as though you accomplished some great and noble feat. It may not push me to make like Donna Reed by donning my pearls and heels to vacuum, but it’s still sort of gratifying.
Quite a bit of progress for a rebellious commitment-phobe who always thought herself more Gloria Steinem than June Cleaver, no? (If we’re being honest, we might as well throw some Peg Bundy in there too.) I suppose the real satisfaction comes in realizing that maybe it’s okay to be a scattered, bumbling version of all three–and then some.