As I realize what I am about to say, I can practically feel the earth shake as bra burners of days gone by turn in their graves. I can nearly see the silvery tear sliding down Sheryl Sandberg’s cheek. I imagine that men like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are throwing out a hearty cheer.
It will be easier if I just come out and say it.
It’ll just be an amplification of the surprised looks I get when I talk about the standing mixer my parents gave me for Christmas, or when I share the baby names I’ve had planned out for years (Lucy and Charlotte for girls, Thomas and James for boys, in case you were wondering).
It’ll be only slightly more shameful than the embarrassment I feel when I pick up Brides instead of The New Yorker. (The special day will involve a ball gown, with a lavender-and-cream color scheme, in late summer or early fall, for your information).
It won’t be worse than the awkwardness of that eighth-grade Quizbowl competition, in which my teammates knew each presidents’ years in office, and the only question I answered was about whipping cream (if you whip it for long enough, it turns into butter, by the way).
Yes. It’s true. I harbor a secret, unexpected, inexplicable, repressed desire to be a housewife. Apron, apple pie, angel-faced child and all. I want to maintain an immaculate home, plant a bountiful garden, cook delicious meals and raise adorable children. When I picture my future in 15 years, it’s not in some cubicle — it’s in my spacious, well-lit kitchen.
You’re surprised, aren’t you? I go to Penn. I apply for club positions and internships with the same aggressive thirst that my peers do. I feel strong and independent and professional as my heels click-clack through Huntsman Hall. I spend far more time writing essays and DP articles than I do cooking or cleaning my apartment. And without question, I’m more concerned with finding a job than with finding a boyfriend.
But the desire remains. It wells back up every time I see a couple with their stroller on Locust Walk or taste some home-cooked food. I wonder sometimes where I got it, this ugly, concealed, unnatural yearning of mine. Was it years of reading “Little House on the Prairie?” Was it my beloved childhood dollhouse and kitchen set? Was it the fact that my mom, one of my favorite people in the world, gave up her career to raise me and my brother?
The practical voice in my head tells me it will never work. I would be bored out of my mind sitting at home while my friends are out changing the world. I certainly did not go through the stress of a Penn education for nothing. And I hate the thought of depending completely on some far-in-the-future, nebulous husband for my livelihood.
But I can’t shake my daydreams of chubby-cheeked babies, a simmering pot of chicken noodle soup, a giant wall calendar in the kitchen proudly displaying the entire family’s schedule. Mired as I am in the insanity of college, that kind of life seems far away and impossible — but I know I’ll feel empty if I never achieve it.
It’s a dilemma that’s half-funny, half-serious. The cliched career-family debate rings true for many women, but I haven’t come across an exceptional number of female friends who adore the frills of domesticity as I do. It is strange, and I don’t pretend to understand it. But having a pleasant, well-decorated house with home-cooked meals and toddlers who run to me, not their nanny, is something I am going to work towards, just as I am going to work towards a successful career.
Naysayers may cry anti-feminism, may believe that I’m tearing down the tower of accomplishment that women have been building for centuries. But I’d argue that they really don’t understand what feminism means. Doesn’t feminism grant women a choice to do whatever the hell they want? They can run companies or become Navy SEALs. Or they can stay home and flip some pancakes and iron some shirts and read to their kids. The beauty of it is that they get to decide it for themselves.
So, check on me in a decade or two. In all likelihood, I’ll be doing something professional. I’ll have some sort of office and I won’t have the time to join every PTA committee. But don’t forget to come by my house for some fresh-baked cookies.
CAROLINE SIMON is a College sophomore from Oreland, Pa., studying English and Communication. She is the Campus News Editor-elect of the DP. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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