Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hired Help

While folding my tenth load of laundry yesterday, I watched a few minutes of an old Doris Day movie. There are so many cultural differences between the early sixties and today, to start with practically all of her movies have a moral dilemma that she is trying to navigate with good humor. That Touch Of Mink and Move Over, Darling couldn't even be made as Hallmark movies today because the sexual morality is so innocent. But that isn't what struck me the most.

With all of my holiday chores compounded by being out of electricity for half of last week, I couldn't help but be jealous of Doris Day's hired help. I collect vintage cookbooks and they often discuss the role of the domestic employee. Forty years ago housewives of a certain economic status had staff. Housewives, not lawyers or movie stars. Today's equivilent of these women may still have gardners and a cleaning service but live in staff has been relagated to the very wealthy. Even the lower classes of bygone years had grandmothers or spinster aunts that lived in the house to help with the children and chores.

We may have many conveniences our predecessors didn't have but being a housewife has always been a sunrise to sunset job. It's a wonder we're all running around frazzled, and I can't even imagine the stress on the single mother or the working mom. There literally aren't enough hours in the day to get all their work done.

For now I'll just have to take it in stride and remember that I'm working so feverishly in order to relax and enjoy myself over Christmas break.

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