1 | The Life of a Suburban Housewife
My husband and I bought our quaint little house at the end of Maple street right after we got married.
Wide, adorable, and lavender to the eyes. Secretly, I had always imagined our future home being much bigger than this house at the end of Maple street—I had envisioned two or three stories of space, and a large backyard for our children to run around and play to their heart’s content. The only part of that dream that ended up coming true was the two story image in my brain, but even then, our second floor is barely a sight to marvel at.
I know I sound ungrateful for speaking about my house this way. Frankly, I have no huge issues with this house—it is the house my husband and I are raising our three children in, and it is the house I hope to see them all grow up and move out of as well. But when you’re stuck between the walls of the house at the end of Maple street every single day, you can’t help but notice the details that hadn’t popped out at you before.
My husband, Frank, works as an accountant for a small firm in town. It’s good money, good benefits, and enough support for me to stay at home and care for our little ones. But sometimes, I wish Frank and I would have more of that oomph in our life to be able to do more than just wander around the empty halls at night when the kids are asleep and we can’t seem to do the same. Still, we’re financially stable enough, and everyone is healthy.
My youngest, Claire, runs around the kitchen chasing our dog, Bingo. The morning invites itself through our kitchen windows as I make sandwiches for the kid’s lunch today: Ham for Claire, Turkey for Max, and PB&J for Finn.
“Claire, do you want tomatoes on your sandwich, honey?” I ask her. Engrossed in her playtime with our canine family companion, she barely hears me. Her blonde curls bounce in the wind of her fun. I smile to myself.
“Claire!” I call again louder, and immediately she stops running and looks straight at me with her big youthful eyes; brown as the bark of our Tulip tree in the backyard.
“Tomatoes?” I ask again.
She shakes her head, but proceeds to approach me and sit on one of the stools of our island.
“No,” she answers in her small voice that suddenly turns hopeful. “Can I have cookies today, Mommy?”
“Hm, I don’t know,” I think aloud. “You’ve already had cookies twice with your lunch this week.”
“Please?” she begs extendedly. Her small 6-year-old hands clasp together in front of me. I glare at her playfully until I cave and place a few small chocolate chip cookies in a plastic baggie. She cheers, as she does every morning when I give into her.
Out of all my children, Claire’s charm seems to weaken my authority the most. Sometimes I think it’s because of how much she resembles myself when I was younger—the same blonde hair and the same brown eyes. But other times I believe it’s out of envy over those brown eyes full of future and those blonde curls full of life; the sadness and nostalgia when I look at her, knowing that I was once like her, but I’ll never be like her again.
So because of this, I give her more small chocolate chip cookies.
Max and Finn run down the staircase before Frank. By this time, I have just finished their lunches.
“You have your English notebook? I don’t want another email from Mrs. Fekjar about how you forgot it again,” I chide Finn.
He rolls his eyes, “Yes.”
One unsuccessful disapproving look his way before I hand him his lunch. Max grabs his, checks the items inside, and kisses my cheek.
“Have a good day at school!” I call out to them, but they’re already out the door; I see them waiting by the car through the window, engaged in enthusiastic conversation. It’s almost as if Finn doesn’t even recognize me much anymore. Frank tells me it’s “pre-teen hormones,” but I’m not convinced. Still, I try not to pry too much.
I hug and kiss Claire, tighter than I hug and kiss my boys. She’s my only hope; I live vicariously through her, though I hate to admit it. When I pick her up from school, I revel in the stories of her adventures on the playground. Pathetically, I revel in them deep enough to long strongly for the days on the playground with the friends I haven’t spoken to since middle school. I miss them—Isabelle Cigliano, Susan Brown and Olivia Geller. I miss the playground with the yellow slide that shocked us on hot summer days. Sometimes I check their Facebook, looking through their gallery of photos. Olivia is a real estate agent with two daughters and a gorgeous husband. Isabelle is a lawyer, and Susan is a Marketing associate. I wonder if they remember the evil yellow slide like I remember it?
I wonder if they remember me like I remember them?
Claire runs out to the car with her lunch. Bingo follows her until the door slams and blocks the outside world from him. He stares pitifully at the Borsting children outside.
“I’m going to be home a little late tonight,” Frank tells me. His back is towards me; he’s looking through the fridge and doesn’t come back up until there’s a carton of near-empty orange juice in his hand.
“Work?” I ask.
He nods, and I nod, too even though I’m certain it isn’t the truth. When your marriage has become nothing more than a kiss goodbye and a forced smile over a pot of casserole on the dinner table, you can’t seem to be surprised when your significant other starts doing whatever they can to rid themselves of you.
He smiles at me, more warmly than he usually does. He’s trying to soften me up so I don’t become suspicious. Useless, really.
Frank walks around the island and kisses me; I don’t feel anything.
“I love you, Kathrine,” he tells me, staring down at me with his tired eyes.
“I love you too, Francis.”
I believe whole heartedly that when I tell Francis Robert Borsting I love him, it’s in an attempt to try and convince myself that I still do.
Frank leaves. I stand by the window and watch him get the kids into the car. When the final door closes, the car starts. I see Claire wave at me through the dark windows. I laugh and wave back, and wait until the boys copy her action, but they never lift their eyes from their iPads to even look at me.
Behind the white picket fence, the car pulls out of the driveway and cruises down the road. Michelle Baroski across the street sees me through the window and waves with her free hand while the other hand waters her lawn.
“Hey, Michelle,” I greet when I open the window.
“Were those the kids and Frank?”
I nod, “Yes. They’re off to school.”
“Oh, how nice! We’re still on for our jog tonight?”
When are we never on for our jog?
“Of course! I wouldn’t miss it for the world!”
“Great! See you then!”
“Okay,” I wave again. “Bye Michelle!”
I close the window and lean against the glass. Michelle Boroski and I have had our effortless “jog” through the neighborhood every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at four o’clock in the afternoon, right before I pick the kids up from school and right after I clean the house. I have nothing against Michelle, but sometimes she can be intrusive and nosey—the Borstings are a little too private for her liking, despite her and I attending book club every Tuesday and Frank smoking cigars with Edgar Boroski and the rest of their friends.
After all, you can’t gain the trust of a suburban housewife until they deem you untrustworthy.
I see Bingo run through the doggie door outside into the backyard. Now, the house is silent. Mentally, I go over today’s schedule: check the mail, manage our bank account, do Frank and the kid’s laundry, clean up the house, masturbate to make up for the orgasm Frank failed to give me last night, do some grocery shopping, go out for a jog with Michelle, then finally pick up the kids from school. And for the last fourteen years, the sacred list has remained generally unchanged.
Welcome to the life of a suburban housewife.