Gentle readers, the last few months have been something of an epic headache Chez BeckySharper. You see, after many years in my humble Brooklyn abode, I finally scraped together the money to renovate my home. I decamped to a sublet on the Upper West Side–rented to me by one of the not-boyfriends, who was spending August in Tel Aviv–while my apartment was rewired, replastered, repainted and my old dingy bathroom–unfondly dubbed “Rhapsody in Beige” by a friend–was completely demolished and rebuilt. The place now looks awesome, if I do say so myself.
Still, upon my return I discovered that there are some major problems. The phone line and phone jacks, which were removed during the rewiring, were never replaced. I suddenly had no land line, which meant no DSL. The circuit breakers were tripped, causing some outlets to go dead and the ignition on the stove to malfunction. There is something fatally wrong with the TV cable–as diagnosed during today’s visit by the Cablevision guy–which requires my contractor to come back and pull it out of the wall.
And besides all that, my post-renovation to-do list is long. New bookshelves have to be delivered. Home Depot needs to pick up leftover building materials. Furniture has to be retrieved from storage. There’s so much to be done that, I confess, I’m even contemplating having things delivered or workmen come by on Yom Kippur simply because it’s the one day I have off from work. (Theological question: will I have to atone for scheduling housework and errands on the holiest day of the year, or is the annoyance of it punishment enough?)
And not only is this chaos making me a bad Jew, it’s driving me to bad, anti-feminist places. I fumed to the Harpies that I was going to have to turn in my feminist card because in my frustration I kept ranting: “if only I had a partner, this would be so much easier!”
I bought the place as a single woman, live in it as a single woman, funded the renovation as a single woman, but it wasn’t until this renovation that I realized, hey, I’m single. There is only one of me, and this job needed multiple arms and legs and strong backs. I not only longed for a big strong male, but for a large brood of sturdily built children. Why had I never considered starting a family simply as a source of free labor?
PhDork let me off the hook by saying something along the lines of “That doesn’t make you a bad feminist. Things are always easier with two people.” She should know–her Dude is quite handy, and when they were staying at my place this weekend he was kind enough to mess with my cable box and produce the extra co-axial cable it needed to be operational (well, operational if the actual CATV cable in the wall had been working, which it was not). And the Dude and ‘Dork’s overall camraderie and good humor made me feel a lot less frazzled about the chaos of my single-woman household, with its various technological breakdowns and long to-do lists.
I realize that I’m being frazzled and control-freaky about some seriously First World problems here. Missing “Project Runway” for the second straight week in a row is not truly a hardship. And I’m lucky that I have the friends and financial resources to make this all a lot less stressful than it could be. Women everywhere do way more with way less.
I also realize more acutely than ever why working men always wanted a housewife, and why pretty much every working woman needs one too. This shit is exhausting and time-consuming. No wonder the Patriarchy always wanted us at home–you’d have to pay a fortune to hire someone to do it all for you. (If any of y’all are looking for an unpaid internship, I’ll mentor you in the fine arts of harpydom in exchange for duties like sorting through invoices and waiting for repairmen to show up).
In conclusion, here’s a shout-out to single women who are heading households everywhere, especially those who have the additional stresses and complications of handling all the routine crap of daily life while raising the next generation. Women are truly what makes the world go around.
Got work-life balance advice? Please share in the comments….