It’s been a busy
weekmonthyearfive years around here. Dishes don’t get done every night in this house. So when I finally do get to them, my garbage disposal gets some action. Tonight, I turned it on and heard the dreaded crunch-clackity-clack…the sound that indicates a measuring spoon is down there getting chopped up. Before I could reach for the off switch, the disposal groaned, whined, and came to a reproachful stop.
Crap. And this is the new disposal my landlords just put in.
Thus began a scene that I imagine happens often in single women’s houses. It’s the “Ok, my grandmother is up in heaven wringing her hands that there isn’t a guy around to fix this for me” scene. After studying the problem for a few moments, that familiar wave of something – call it pride, stubbornness, bitchiness – comes over the single woman and she sets to work, thinking: “Whatever, Gammy, I’ve got this.”
In my case, it only took a flashlight and remembered lessons about leverage to fix the problem, and when I removed the tail end of the spoon from under the disposal chopping thingy (with a screwdriver, folks, my fingers were nowhere near those sharp things), flipped the switch and heard that sweet hum of a working disposal, I’m not ashamed to admit I pumped my fist a-la-Tiger Woods and said a little “F___ yeah!” to my dog.
And then I resumed cleaning, but I needed to break off to write this little entry, because something has been gnawing at me lately.
Recently, I’ve found myself talking/reading a lot about women’s issues, including work-life balance. Today I had brunch with a colleague and we spent a good amount of time talking about how we can’t keep up with anything in our lives: not our work, not our home life. This is the same conversation I hear and read about every day.
But here’s the thing; neither of us have kids. And if I’m honestly with myself, I often feel like I, as a single woman, have no right to complain. After all, “working” women are defined as those with kids, and I don’t have them, so it should be easier for me, shouldn’t it? I should be able to do it all: work, take care of my dog, travel, lose weight, serve on boards, date, read the New York Times every Sunday while eating a perfectly crafted omelet that I made, blog, eat locally grown food, do the dishes, save for retirement, fix my disposal, knit, and whatever the hell else I’m supposed to do, right? And when I can’t, I should keep my mouth shut, because I’ve got it easy, right?
This kind of thinking gets me grumpy, and I start to feel put upon and defensive. But somehow, tonight, fixing my disposal gave me some clarity, and more than a little shame. Here’s the thing. Pitting different groups against each other in a competition over who has the busiest life is a bunch of crap. It doesn’t matter. The reality is that no one feels like he/she has it all under control. If they do, they are either lying or enjoying a brief respite from the real world.
Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State, and a personal idol of mine (meeting her is a highlight of my college years) once said “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” I agree with her 100%, but I also think we all could do better with helping each other, regardless of gender. I’m proud that I was able to fix my disposal by myself, but I think I would have gratefully accepted help if it had been available. I feel the same way about work-life balance in general. I’ll take whatever I can get. I imagine we all would.
I’m not sure this entry makes any sense to anyone but me, but it felt good to write it. And now, I must return to my dirty kitchen, since I have vowed not to watch the new Walking Dead episode until it’s clean. If anyone wants to come over and help, I wouldn’t say no. 🙂