A cookie too far
Susan takes to her role as a domestic goddess with some apprehension.
‘You do realise you have destroyed my last surviving role model,’ one of my oldest school friends said to me recently. And I realised I had. You see, before the days of Finn, I knew a lot… specifically about, well… parenting. During one of our many conversations on the topic-we-knew-so-much-about, I was very firm with my friend that women didn’t have to give up their careers to become mothers. This particular conversation arose because although she is an admirable and very successful lawyer living in Johannesburg she wanted children and the only mothers she seemed to know were stay-at-home moms.

These women were dedicated to their children and their homes. This posed a dilemma to my friend, who had spent many years becoming a lawyer, and felt that she couldn’t give it all up to keep up with the stay-at-home Mrs Jones’s. I assured her she was being ridiculous.

I highlighted the fact that I, myself, was only familiar with one stay-at-home mom and even she busied herself with having to do the books for their family business. I then rattled off numerous names of colleagues previous and current who’d been back in the office within mere months of giving birth and they all seemed to be coping quite well. My own mother, I effused, had an exciting and challenging career while my brother and I were growing up and I had great respect for her because of it! ‘Of course you can do both,’ I pronounced, ‘I certainly plan to.’

And then Finn was born. The psychic pain of having to return to work and be separated from my small baby, left me unsure of everything. As soon as I realised that this anguish only subsided when I was reunited with Finn, I made an arrangement to reduce my workload and work largely from home.

And so for the first time since childhood I found myself in a foreign sphere known as the Domestic Realm. It is foreign to me because my mother discovered feminism when I was two. Since then the Domestic Realm has always had a sinister ring to it that I’ve actively avoided at all costs. But now I’m home with Finn, because that is where Finn likes to be. And I find myself doing things I’ve never even considered before. Firstly, I have spent more hours in the small shopping centre down the road than is necessary, reasonable or healthy. It’s just that it’s such a convenient place to manoeuvre a miniature person with a low boredom threshold that I am drawn there on an almost daily basis. I window shop. I even window shop at the video store. I have lunch at trendy little health shops with other stay-at-home moms and their offspring, where we pay an unreasonable amount of money for mung bean and flourless bread sandwiches.

But the worst is the temptations that have been laid before me. Just the other day, to kill some time, Finn and I ventured down an aisle less travelled and I found myself putting chocolate cookie mix into my basket. I’m relieved to say that the box remains unopened in the kitchen cupboard. It’s called Pilanesburg or Pillsbury cookie mix or something. I’d read the correct name off the box, except I’m terrified that if I go near it, I might actually bake! And then where would I be?

Yes, I used to know a lot. These days when my lawyer friend calls me up, I am torn between warning her of the dangerous places we’re led by having children, and telling her to leap right in. After all, the Domestic Realm is littered with chocolate cookies.

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