Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Wednesday's Women No. 28













You think I look ridiculous? I know I am ridiculous. A caricature you say? Yeah, I guess I can see that.

But the times were different back then. This was what a woman strived to be. This is what the army promised my husband that he could expect. This is what I was led to believe was my job.

Sometimes I was even happy. Not necessarily here. Here I am just pretending to be happy. I wore yellow because I knew even then that the colour yellow was supposed to lift a person’s spirits.

I am glad I have this picture of myself because it brings the day right back to me. This is the day that I was pictured in our local paper as the epitome of what a man should come home to at the end of a hard day of work. A day that he never would have thought of sharing with me; as he believed I could never understand.

So because we didn’t really speak I learned to read the signs.

For example I knew he didn’t like noise when he walked in the house. So I learnt how to minimize it. Yes, it is true you can minimize noise, even the noise that children make can be minimized when their father gets home, especially if they too know how to read the signs.

What I especially remember about this day is how you can be made to feel like you matter to people and feel quite happy about it all, even when you know that it is only a temporary illusion. That the face you are putting on for the camera isn’t necessarily the real face of your soul.

And then to feel on that same day not more then three hours after feeling like you were something that it could turn around and you could be left feeling that you are nothing.

My husband came home from work but I was a little too happy with myself and I had forgotten to read the signs. I had forgotten to listen to the secret language. I was happy to see him of course. I greeted him with a warm smile and showed him my desire to please him but I talked a little bit too much about my day and I forgot to keep the kids quiet.

I forgot that he likes silence when he comes home and while I was going on about my day I reached for his hand and he held mine; a little too tightly. I heard the unspoken language in his grip.

67 comments:

Coreopsis said...

This is the first "Wednesday's Women" post I've read, so I'm not familiar with the format. I'm assuming that the "I" here is fictional, that this is a narrative based on this picture. I hope I'm right.

This made me a little breathless to read, like there wasn't quite enough air. I BELIEVED this woman, though--both how she actually was happy, but also how careful she had to be, and that made me sad. It's a beautiful narrative.

But even though women aren't expected to be what they were then, so many are still trying to fulfill other people's expectations, or what they think other people's expectations are.

yoborobo said...

Whoa - this is very powerful. And so true - I remember my dad coming home from work, and my mom running around, 'shushing' us, and sending us to the other end of the house - so he could 'relax' with a drink. He even had his own room he could go to to get away from us all. I remember being little and thinking that it wasn't fair that he got a room, and my mom didn't.

Pattee said...

Holy Crap... This sounds like the house I grew up in....
Every night around 5 pm we all listened for my dad to come home... as soon as he walked in the door and by what he said did we know how we could behave... no hello meant a tirade, de-grating, berating, throwing things. A HELLO meant maybe tonight would be better.
And my mom smiling all the way....
Pattee

Deborah said...

I am SO wound up in this story!!!! Continue please. I am also quite impressed with how ambidextrous you are. Are you also very bendy? **blows kisses** Deborah

Sonia ;) said...

Wow..Powerful...I know exactly what that feels like..in a past life I no longer have a membership in. Wish I could see the picture...but the words are powerful and honest.....

Smiles
xoxox
Sonia ;)

lakeviewer said...

Darn, Renee, this is too hard to swallow. What a lesson this story brings up especially to those of us who lived this life. I will have to send a story with a similar theme. Let me know if you get it.

Linda Sue said...

So you let your apron slip and your lipstick smudge- damn near unforgivable! I, too, keep the children quiet upon HIS return with the bacon-with his heavy burden of worldly concerns that I simply can not understand, importance of the all powerful all knowing DICK- the soft quiet mundane JANE tends to her duties...I found some beautiful aqua coloured duck tape that subdues the children nicely and is pleasing to look at...I also dye the eggs, after gathering them from our pure white chooks, everything must be coordinated on the colour wheel that is my life....LOVE YOU

pRiyA said...

this is so frightening. i have often wondered about those seemingly perfect couples in church, whether they are as happy as they look. maybe some of them genuinely are, but for most of the women, after i get to know them, the anger, emptiness and bitterness that shows itself through them scares the shit out of me.

you've written this so well.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

So sad, and frightening, Renee.

Diana Evans said...

Hi Renee.....

My Mom takes care of my Dad each and every day....I think he is the luckiest man in the world....second to my husband Brad who I take care of too.....I really enjoy working at making my house a home...I know my friends hate it when I say stuff...but it is what I love to do....They also hate it when I say "it's a women's job" hehehehehe......

I think the most important thing is to do the things we love and not feel like we have to do them.....

Hugssssssssssssssssssss
Diana

karengberger said...

This is an interesting commentary on a time, an set of expectations & a world-view. It's actually a very pretty photograph, from a color & composition point of view, but she looks a little too tightly-wound to be at peace. The image makes me want to offer her a glass of iced tea with a sprig of mint, & invite her to come and sit outside in the fresh air, on a lounger, while she savors it.

Jaliya said...

Renee -- What a joy to make your acquaintance :-) Dear Karin mentioned your dream guidance ... and you've left a deeply textured response to my dream at my blog. Thank you! I will ponder what you've written ...

I've passed a long, delightful spell nosing through your blog. WOW.

About the sunshiny yellow housewife ... I'm surprised that more women of that era didn't go utterly bonkers ... That whole June Cleaver visage was an illusion that no woman could perfect ... and so many tried ...

Here I am, aged 50 in 2009 ... and I feel a small tug in me towards that illusion ... There is, to my surprise, a woman in me who wants to live up to that impossible ideal ...

Karin said...

oooooo this one definitely made me shudder Renee, you spoke her voice a little too well! Do you watch Mad Men? She fit's a character in their world...
So, to make light a little, please go have some fun and visit the Housewives Tarot it's hysterical!!
xoxo Karin

A Cuban In London said...

I had to come over after the comment you left me, Renee. I liked your comment and this post... well, what can I say? It is the subtleties, aren't they?

So, he squeezed your hand, possibly a little harder than usual. It pained me to read it. And yes, my eyes watered. To sum up, I wrote a post about how I witnessed violence when I was fifteen or sixteen in a neighbour's. He was a copper and he was abusive. The situation got to such an extreme that one night he came home, dragged her to the balcony and rammed his gun in her mouth. I was only a couple of metres away.

Your post brought back those memories. Many thanks for your comment on my post. Given the fact that I prepare my posts well in advance, it seems that we are 'connnected' somehow. To respond to your question, all the women in my household were mentally strong, but even that was not good enough to fend off the prevalent machismo in Cuban society. And GB is not much different, mind. It might pride itself of being a tolerant society but sexism is at an all-time high over here.

Many, many thanks for such an honest and open post.

Greetings from London.

kj said...

the last line really got me, renee. you outline all this sad stereotype from a sensitive stifled woman trying her damnest and then you add those hands touching at the end and it puts another dimension to it all. you are a master story teller.

and that aqua bowl, renee: i have that very bowl in my kitchen this very minute. and every time i use it i feel the comfort of a time when things were simpler. because for me, i guess, i wasn't too subservient for husband # 1, and i don't think my mom did too well at it either.

xoxo

studio lolo said...

I always knew to hide in the closet with my dog when my father would walk in the door and accuse my mother of doing nothing all day.
And then he....

You know how it was Renee. I'm just glad I've made peace with it in my own way.

How are you Miss Winnipeg? If you have one more flake of snow I'll summon the weather gods to cease that craziness!

xoxoxoxoxo
Lolo

Marie S said...

LOL!!! Linda Sue I spit coffee on my screen.
This was my mom and dad, my life and home when I was growing up. As long as it looked good on the outside, it was good. I never felt like I measured up. But there was love there, it was given in the way they took care of the facade. How shiny it was. I do understand that even that is love, it was harder though when I was a child.
But I break all of those molds now and after 50 years, it doesn't hurt so bad not to fit in and not be perfect.
I am so grateful for the 50's it has given us an incredible, powerful, amusing, talented, and slightly irreverent group of women and it is good.

Karin said...

A friend of mine just gave it to me recently, it's a hoot! When I just searched for it, to link for you I discovered that the web site lets you play and do a 3 card draw! Hope you have a little fun with it :) (It's on sale at amazon) xoxK

Ingrid Mida said...

What a fascinating post! And so topical for me given that I've been reading all kinds of feminist literature from the 60s and 70s for my artwork. Thanks Renee.

Loni Edwards said...

What a thought provoking post. We sure have come a long way, baby, eh? Wow. Great post Renee, have a wonderful day!

glorv1 said...

Hi Renee. I know this narrative does not apply to you but it is a very interesting read. I'm sure there were households that did have to endure this and how sad. I hope all is okay with you and after reading this post of yours, I feel the need to go post about my experiences with my dad.Hope you are well and have a great day and enjoy.:D Take care.

Diana Evans said...

you are totally right Renee...only if it's what you want and not done as a job!!! I totally agree!!!

Hugs
Diana

Deb a.k.a.The Invisible Blogger.... said...

Okay this may have been the ideal back then, but I don't remember my mother or any of her friends for that matter being like this. Now my Aunt was, he husband had been raised to believe she was there to serve him. His happiness was to be hers.
My family was more honest with seven children quiet was unheard of.

Tessa said...

How utterly terrifying. I've never experienced that kind of subjugation, nor - I think - did my mother. Maybe it was because we came from a different place? Who knows.

As always, Renee, thought-provoking and powerful.

TheChicGeek said...

Oh, Renee, I feel sadness in the words of this post. It really touched me. And your words so true...We, as women, have come a long, long way. Thankfully today, we can be who we really want to be...no illusions, just the real deal.
I do love the picture of you! That is such a perfect and classic photo! You are lucky to have a picture like that of yourself. LOL
Sometimes when I see photos like that it makes me think, ahhh, life could be so easy...
For some, this is no illusion, it is a choice that holds much happiness for them. Only we, as individuals really know what is the right choice for us. We are so lucky to have choice today!
Thank you for giving me much to think about today.

Have a Beautiful, and Happy, and Fabulousity Day...LOL
xox
Kelly

Artistic Accents by Darla said...

Renee, I agree with so many of the above posters.......very touching and moving!
It really does bring back memories!
Hugs,
Darla

Suzanne Casamento said...

Wow. I'm just going to take a moment and give thanks that I am a single woman in my late thirties in 2009 and that nobody will ever squeeze my hand to signal that I should shut up.

PurestGreen said...

Maybe it is just the mood I'm in today, but this made me desperately sad. All that make believe - it is just too common.

Mad Texter said...

My goodness. I'm so glad I never experienced my parents acting like that when I was a tot. Or maybe they did, and I just didn't notice - I was in my own world a lot, and kind of oblivious to the obvious sometimes. (Still am - ha!)

Yoli said...

Too painful to even comment sweet Renee.

Michelle said...

"And then to feel on that same day not more then three hours after feeling like you were something that it could turn around and you could be left feeling that you are nothing."

Yep, I remember that.

I also remember the last paragraph but I'm so not going there :)

Clever lady you are

xxxxxxx

Lola said...

See? See what you do? You post 10 beautifully written paragraphs of fictional reality, and the feelings, memories, stories, feedback and affection you stir are monumental.

You are a natural at evoking emotions, Renee. You do it with such grace.

Let me say it again and again, over and over: I LOVE YOU. DEEPLY.

Ciao

BT said...

Gosh Renee, such a sad sad story. I'm happy to say that my parents weren't like that at all. My Dad was a real softy. He also worked odd hours, being a musician, and my Mum enjoyed a good life of her own. They were well suited and there was not a hint of violence in their life. Sadly, my first marriage was marred by violence, but not on a daily basis and Dad was usually cheerful when he came in. An excellent post Renee.

Manon Doyle said...

This is hard to take Renee! We have come a long way as women! Imagine our daughters putting up with this? I think not!

Ces said...

WHAT?! WHUT?!

How come she is not barefoot and pregnant?!

Get pregnant, you bimbo, you are slacking in your officiousness!

She has no reason to complain.

She has no bruises.

What?! her husband did not beat her up?!

And she is the only woman in his life?

And she has all those appliances and her walls are painted.

Geesh! She's got it made. She is a lucky woman.

Someone ought to slap her to now and then to keep her in her proper place.

Daria said...

Hi Renee, just checked the mail box and still no sleeves. I'll let you know when they come in.

All the best,
Daria

Marion said...

Wow, what a powerful post and great writing, Renee!

It reminded me of my (deceased) mother-in-law. Her husband was in the Navy in the 1950's and she'd lock her 3 little boys out in the yard in the cold when he was home on leave so they wouldn't "bother" him. They seldom had lunch those days. Once he backhanded his oldest son, then aged five (my huband) off his chair for taking the last bit of jelly from a jar---how thoughtless of a small child! But she was married at age 15 and had 3 chldren before she was 19, and today I feel for her and wish we could have been friends. But,sadly, she remained loyal to her mean husband until her death.

Thank God times have changed!!!

Bella Sinclair said...

How sad and awful. Here she is, in the free Western world, and she's trapped inside her own little hell, complete with candy coating.

You are a powerful writer, Renee. Powerful.

Sue said...

Aside from the stereotypical housewife, the fifties is one of my favorite eras. I love the fashions, the housewares, decor, and the outward appearance of gentility.

Your words, very powerful, especially the end show that in many cases that gentility was only surface.

Fortunately, I do not remember my parents behaving like this - I think my family was more Leave it to Beaver.

Hugs,

citizen of the world said...

IO rmember being on the childhood sie of this, kept quiet so as not to trouble my military father. Didn't spare us his wrath, however.

Mandi said...

I was tagged in the pursuit of happiness. For 7 days straight (without fail) I am going to post what makes me happy for that particular day. I also am supposed to tag 7 people.

I am tagging you Renee! I hope you enjoy.. I think this will be very fun =)

Ces said...

Oh boy, I am sorry to think that I do not have a virginal mind, because I actually do.

Two Mile Creek Primitives said...

Hi Renee, Today May 20, would have been my parents 63 wedding anniversary. My Dad died in 1985, Mom is 83. I lived at home till I married at 20 and moved out. I never saw or heard my parents argue. They never shouted or even raised a voice to each other.. Of course they never hit each other either. I would come home and I would catch them dancing in the living room together to "Some Where My Love" , their song. They were perfectly in love with each other. They knew what each was feeling and knew how to act with each other and they kept each other very happy. I never realized how much my Mom must miss my Dad till I read this post. I should have called her today.. Hugs Rene

Ces said...

virginal - pure; unsullied

No one is buying my virginal mind because I am not selling it!

I could play the role this woman is playing and come up on top of the man.

It's all relative and I am not talking incest.

Ces said...

Oh no, I would never opt for murder or hurting anyone physically. I will cringe. I hate blood and guts, really. I always believe that a woman is more powerful than a man and she has in her possession an array of arsenal. Now that does not mean that she will not get on her knees from time to time. That's a necessary position, especially if she wants to reach the deeper crevices of the toilet or whatever it is she is cleaning. Those are mundane but necessary things but the ultimate goal is being in-charge.

But quite honestly women all over the world play different roles and who are we to say that a woman who has to cover her entire body when in public is less happier than some hoochie mama walking down the street baring her navel?

Ces said...

Ah you have a wild imagination. I would never demonstrate and it would be straight heart attack, not warfarin or any other rat poison. And it's heart attack from deprivation punishment.

Vania said...

I LOVE your mind Renee - I agree with everything you wrote - once again I will say you have an amazing way with words.

I hope life is treating you kindly right now - wishing you all the best as always - hugz and kisses Val xxoo

Ces said...

I won! I won! You agree!

See!

I can even come up on top of a woman!

Thank God you are heterosexual!

Hahahahahah!

Sue said...

Renee, Thought I would answer you here, as I don't know if you would check back on my blog. I agree with you on Julian Smith, BGT, sax player. I literally got goosebumps when he played. He also seems like a REALLY humble, nice guy. I think he's terrific.

Ces said...

Trying to distract my attention with that Julian guy while you gossip with Professor Bella Sinclair , aren't you? Huh?! Huh?!

Renee said...

Ces I hope you are looking here. It isn't your computer it must be mine because I tried to leave a few comments at a few places and the stupid thing kicked me out.

Damn just when I was starting to win the argument.

Love Renee xoxo

Ces said...

Are you saying you are on top of me now? Because I am with Bella, Hahahaha!

Bella Sinclair said...

Hahaha, that Julian's got a long instrument. Nice.

He can play my sax.

Ces said...

A -a-a-a-a-ah hah! I know what you are doing. You are losing your ground so you are bringing me closer to ensnare me. can't stand my arsenal can't you?! Weenie!

Bella Sinclair said...

HAHAHAHAAAAA! ShaZAM, woman! Blow his sax!

Ces said...

Why does Bella keep on misspelling sex?

Shabang!

Renee, I am not making fun of your heritage, never!

Ces said...

Renee, don't worry, I am not going near your love. I don't trust a man who has to blow on a pipe to get his rise!

Ces said...

Renee you are a saint most of the time but tonight I don't think that word matches you well. Notice the words you have been using:

Just roll there.
Rod
Rodlike
Blow
Sex
Bimbo
Hoochie mama
navel
warm
poison
sexy...

Bella Sinclair said...

Hahaa, Renee. Yes, I have no doubt in your charitable deeds. And if his instrument needs a bit of polishing, your saintliness will prevail.

You are KILLING me! :D

Ces said...

I don't need to have sax with the Viking. I have all I need.

Ces said...

I thought Saint Anthony was patron saint of the desperate, that is why I prayed to him to find me a man.

My prayers were anwered. notice how happy I am that I have a house with yellow wall, that I wear pearls with my apron while cooking. How I walk behind him when we are in public and how I am not to address him first but instead wait for him to acknowledge me when we are in the company of his male friends and how I am supposed to wait to be told to sit down or when to stand up and how I am to make sure that I serve him and his friends beer at the right temperature and how I am to please him at all times.

Bella Sinclair said...

WHOOOOOOOOOO! Friction, baby!

I'm sorry, honey. I gotta go. I gotta go cool down.

Sweet, sticky dreams to you. Mwah!

Ces said...

Good night. I have been called to duty.

Chrisy said...

Enjoy this sooo much honey...you might like this one...
http://sophismpress.blogspot.com/2009/02/how-do-you-measure-up.html

Sarah said...

Yikes Renee - This was what I divorced!! Well without the apron!! Yes - it made my chest hurt - I felt trapped and smothered for her - what a relief to know I'm not there any more.
Hugs and love, Sarah

Emerald Arts said...

Damn your writing is good! If you ever continue this story I have to read it, so fascinating. My generation thinks we're so far removed from this sort of reality, but really everyone reads emotional cues from their loved ones and responds accordingly... just more sinister than most in this scenario.

I love it.

Diane said...

I love that picture of you in the Kitchen and you know what I am just a little bit older then you, and I am very accommodating to my hubby the past 21 years of our marriage but, I don't bend over backwards for his little stupid whims any more. I am a very strong person now! And you must be just full of of fight. How are you doing you know you can survive without someone like that!
Hugs, Diane