Did any of you see the Stepford Wives movie? Either the first, or the second – if you didn’t, you really need to.
It’s about a town called Stepford, where everyone acts so stereotypical in their gender roles you’d be crazy to not think something was up. As it turns out in the end (spoiler alert!) the men have basically turned the wives in to robots, or killed them and made robots of them (something like that). In the newer one with Matthew Broderic and Nicole Kidman, the twist at the end is that it’s actually the female founder of the town who turned her husband (Christopher Walken) into a robot, so that he would then go on to turn the remaining and new wives of the town into robots so that everything would go on being very 1950s-honey-here-are-your-slippers-how-was-your-day-I-made-you-an-apple-pie.
So this morning my friend Stacy came over to do this instructional video thing for a class she’s taking. She’s in my craft group, which should be a real red flag for you: that this is Stepford; I am living in Stepford; because where else can you find a craft group but Stepford? We did the video thing (I showed how to make your own homemade foot scrub…….how Stepfordian, I know), and then when we were done I made her a cup of tea. She sat down while I did dishes. And we caught up on local drama and where we buy our cleaning products.
Where. We. Buy. Our. Fucking. Cleaning. Products.
In the middle of our conversation, she burst into laughter and said “I’m sorry, I just realized we are having a total Stepford moment here.”
We were. And the worst part is this: I am always having a Stepford moment. My life is just one, long Stepford pause.
Just a week ago, we returned from our annual fall vacation to Oregon. As typically happens on vacation, as soon as my head was out of the smog and the sludge of LA, my mind cleared and I asked myself just what in the actual fuck has happened to my life.
I get up in the morning and start doing chores. I make breakfast, I dust and vacuum. I put away the dishes and start the laundry.
After I’ve worked out and showered, I throw on my mom pants (yoga pants) and a tank top and resume the chores while administering homeschooling and making lunch.
Some days I chauffeur to and from tennis. Other days I’m running errands, all of which have to do with cooking, cleaning, and making a home.
Yes, I just said the words “making a home” in complete and utter earnestness.
I make dinner, I do more chores. I fold so much laundry that we recently installed a television and DVD player in the laundry room. More chores. Bedtime routines. More laundry. And so on.
But it isn’t only my daily routine that is insultingly in line with my stereotypical role that is so Stepford.
It’s the four course meals on the table, every night.
It’s that I bide away my occasional and rare free time with sewing and knitting projects, instead of pedicures and massages.
There was a day that a pair of socks with holes in them went in the trash. Now, I darn them. I darn socks.
It’s the “oh you’re in the mood for chocolate chip cookies? …well I’ll just whip up a batch right now!”
It’s the fact that when I have an actual conversation with an actual adult, in actual real life, what I actually discuss…
…is where I buy my fucking cleaning products.
As I said to my friend this morning, the only thing truly sticking between me and truly being a Stepford wife is the fact that I still dress like a slob. I wear yoga pants and tank tops everywhere; I have an at-home hoodie and a fancy hoodie for “special occasions.” Yesterday I wore jeans to a birthday party, for all of an hour and a half, and was back in yoga pants within a minute of getting home. My hair is essentially a rat’s nest sitting atop my head; and make up – which used to be a regular and celebrated thing – is something I now loathe putting on.
In that sense, I am able to calm myself when my head clears and I question what has become my daily reality – when I am on vacation, or just have an extra amount of down time and an opportunity to sit and really take stock in my life. My life may be set on a permanent, Stepford pause. But at least I’m not in a poodle skirt and buttoned-down pinafore.
The other thing I forgot to mention about my morning Stepford tea with my friend Stacy was that she’s a librarian and today she brought me a book. A book we’ll have to delve into next time, because I’m so afraid for my rat’s nest of a hair do and my daily yoga pants habit to even open it…