Feminine? Or Femi-none?

"A well-read woman is a dangerous creature." —Lisa Kleypas

Dear Internet,

I have worried about the following things this week: the current length of my leg hair, whether I could go one more week without an eyebrow wax (I could!), and how exactly I was going to whip up something delicious for dinner while washing all the dishes, scrubbing the grass stains out of Brian's pants, finding a cure for cancer, maintaining a perfectly manicured coif, and working forty hours a week (I could not.).

In short, I have worried about being a woman. And doing all the womanly things I'm expected to do now that I'm shacking up with someone and on my way to being his wife.

Now, before you phone me up to berate me for marrying such a cretin, let me say he does not expect me to do anything of those things. Sure he prefers not to be able to braid my leg hairs and likes a warm meal every once in awhile, but for the most part he grunts and shrugs and does his own laundry and mending. Seriously, I once watched in fascination as he sewed two buttons back on one of his shirts while simultaneously cooking dinner. I mainly watched because he was shirtless—but still. He was raised well and is generally a prince when it comes to these things. It's me who's not.

I expect to be able to do all those things because isn't that what we're told as women? That we must whip up homemade French Laundry quality meals after working all day and managing to keep our hair in the right place (and out of the wrong places)? And that if we don't we somehow fail the wife test and the police come and revoke your license and it's a whole big "thing." I do not like "things." Or failing.

Although, I'm sure you're laughing now if you know me intimately. Because you know I can go weeks—nay months—with chipped nail polish, that I am quite capable of using every last dish in the house before I wash a single one, and well the status of any of my hairs on any given day is usually code orange.

Which was fine when I was single. But now that I'm an almost wife aren't I supposed to get it together? Aren't I supposed to become this neat, tidy, well-organized, multitasking goddess of domesticity while also remaining wildly desirous to my husband?

It makes me tired just thinking about it. Sigh.

Now, because it's almost Mother's Day, I will blame my lack of skills in the domestic arts on my mother, god rest her soul. I will do this mainly because I can and I'm a therapist and it's a trade secret that everything is always our parents' fault.

But to make my case, the woman wasn't exactly the most feminine person in the world. She believed in applying lipstick once a day (in the morning), that panties were to be white, cotton, and bought once a year (for Christmas), and her version of cooking was eating all the icing off a store bought cake (heaven help you if you ate the last piece).

And because I don't want to be accused of trashing my family again, I will add—she had many wonderful qualities that I totally appreciate, keeping house and knowing her way around Sephora were not them.

So, I'm a little deficient in these areas (Ok not the Sephora part. Most of my twenties was spent figuring that element of being a women out, but doing that while also folding laundry is a lesson I have still not yet mastered. I've been too busy cataloging all my shoes).

Figuring out what exactly it does mean to be a wife is also hard since I don't have any sisters and was awkward around most women until I was in my mid-twenties. Okay, I'm still a little awkward around most women. Groups of them often scare me. Hence why my upcoming bridal party consists of four lovely ladies instead of the mandatory herd most Southern weddings call for.

But I digress. Back to all the responsibilities and things I'm at best average at. And yes, I just cringed a little when I wrote that word—average is not something I'm programed to be.

I shall learn how to crush keeping everything tidy while minding my nails. Ok, I probably won't.

Because half of the crap we worry about as women is total bunk. And if you don't believe me please read this book. Seriously.

I picked up How To Be a Woman mainly because the book I really wanted to read wasn't available and navigating this new word wife has been hard for me (something about not having a mom or sisters to ask about these things) and I figured surely I could learn something from "The British version of Tina Fey's Bossypants."

And my god I have! I have learned so many things. I have also spent most nights howling at Brian, "Wait, wait just listen to this part!" as I laughed spit all over him.

Because this book is hilarious, and irreverent, and poignant, and exactly what a *gasp* feminist book should be (why do we hate that word so?).

Not to mention it instantly stopped all the hand-wringing and worrying and fretting. Because it reminded me that we are all in this together. And we have many ways of doing things. And contrary to what my Southern upbringing says there's no rule that mandates you scrub the floor with a toothbrush and always wear pearls. Nor do I have to have twelve pieces of matching silver and sixteen sets of china.

I can do it my way. I can be any kind of wife I want. Any kind of woman I want. And so can you.

And that my friends is what *gasp* feminism is. Saying out loud we're all in this together whether or not you've had your bikini line waxed or not.

Thank you Caitlin Moran for that. And thank you to all the wild, wonderful women I run with who remind me every day there are many different ways to be a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, a woman. And that all ways are pretty fantastic (even the ones I poke fun at for having tidy houses and perfect hair).

Now, since it is almost Mother's Day go kiss your mom. Tell her you love her. Thank her for showing you the kind of woman you want to be (or even the kind you don't want to be-although maybe don't say it like that).

Thank her for coming before you. For doing her thing. Because whether or not she was the best role model her existence is exactly why I can sit here typing this while Brian cooks dinner. Exactly why I can have a public opinion and job and fret about all the things I have to do.

Exactly why we can choose the kinds of women we want to be.  And that deserves some thanks whether she was perfect or not.


The following excerpts may use foul language, allude to bodies parts we aren't supposed to talk about in public, and tout liberal ideas. You have been warned.

"Similarly, if we live in a climate where female pubic hair is considered distasteful, or famous and powerful woman are constantly pilloried for being too fat or too thin, or badly dressed, then, eventually, people start breaking into women, and lighting fires in them. Women will get squatters. Clearly, this is not a welcome state of affairs. I don't know about you, but I don't want to wake up one morning and find a load of chancers in my lobby."
"I can't believe we've got to a point where it's basically costing us money to have a vagina. They're making us pay for maintenance and upkeep of our lulus, like they're a communal garden. It's a stealth tax. ...This is money we should be spending on THE ELECTRICITY BILL and CHEESE and BERETS..."
"In a world of infinite possibility, why not learn to hang off a pole by your pelvic floor? It probably will be more useful than learning Latin."

"All weddings seen to boil down to acting like Michael Jackson at the height of his insanity—pretending to be a celebrity for one insanely expensive day. And we know why celebrities have pet monkeys and stupid shoes and the Elephant Man's skeleton and a fun fair and swimming pools shaped like guitars. BECAUSE THEY'RE DYING INSIDE. THEY'RE STARING INTO THE VOID....We communally pity these people as damaged idiots."

"There's so much stuff—in every respect—that we can't afford and yet we sighingly resign ourselves to, in order to join in and feel "normal." But, of course, if everyone is, somehow, too anxious to say what their real situation is, then there is a new, communal, median experience that is being keep secret by everyone being too embarrassed to say, "Don't think I'm a freak, but...""

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