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Get A Wife

Confessions Of A Slob

By Faulkner Fox

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Leisure and autonomy seem to me the most taboo qualities imaginable for a mother of young kids.

We had rats once. Well, twice. Not the New York City kind that come because you are living in unclean circumstances, although that kind would probably feel pretty comfy chez nous. No, we live in Texas, and we got infested with Texas tree rats. Big ol' things that jump down on your roof from trees, bite holes through the shingles, then set up housekeeping inside. With you.

My husband first discovered the problem. He smelled something funky near the stove, thought it must be a dead mouse, and did exactly what I would have done: turned the oven up to 500 and figured he'd broil the hell out of whatever it was. This is kind of our housekeeping style--wait until something stinks, then do something drastic and inappropriate and hope the whole thing goes away. In the case of the rats, it didn't go away, and we ended up hiring expensive, orange-suited rodent experts.

My husband is a professor, and he is absent-minded, but he doesn't reap the main benefit of this stereotype--unfettered thought on higher matters. If he smells a rat, he deals with it. If he can't find his glasses--a typical predicament for spacey, professorial types--he can't find his glasses. No dainty woman in an ironed apron says, "Here honey. My goodness, you're silly! They were right on the bathroom cabinet."

I'm not unusually cruel, and I do help my husband if I know where his glasses are, but I rarely do since our house is, basically, a sty, and he puts his glasses in totally bizarre places--between the links in our chain fence outside, halfway through a huge stack of magazines, under our son's rocking horse. I am slightly more organized than my husband, but I am a slob, a packrat, and, perhaps most important to me, I am completely adamant in my refusal to be the single-handed grand orchestrator of our household.

I've heard several of my harried friends, male and female, say something like: "what we need is a wife."

Yeah, us too. An unresentful wife. An unaspiring wife. Someone who is truly fulfilled by doing housework. But then someone would have to talk to her. I bet she's boring.

This is kind of my dream (and I think it might be my husband's dream too): writing all day with healthy and delicious meals magically and silently arriving at appointed hours in a house that neatens, cleans, then organically disinfects itself without bothering us.

Not possible? Okay then, let's say my husband and I do find a wife, and he doesn't have sex with her (that would upset me), and I don't have to talk to her. Or maybe we just have a cheerful housekeeper like Alice on "The Brady Bunch," and we don't have to talk to her either. Here's the sticky part: what will the kids (we have a baby and a three-year-old) be doing while we write all day, and all night if the muse so moves us?

I don't want to shunt off all of the childcare--just the icky and boring parts. Maybe I could pop in and out like Mary Poppins on speed. In for the first step, out for the messy poop. In for the story and kiss good-night, out for the 2 a.m. wake-up call. Trouble is, I know this doesn't work. I know the good moments don't make sense, and possibly don't even happen, without the bad, perhaps more kindly referred to as "the challenging."

I think quality time is a crock of bull.

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