christmas shopping list

Dear Santa,

I would love a female life assistant for Christmas. She must enjoy tackling endless mountains of laundry, scrubbing dry dog urine from random corners, repotting plants, running an inordinate number of errands, and other various jobs as needed. Other tasks may or may not include being my designated driver, insurance claim point of contact, and the cable and cellphone bill haggler. Thanks, Santa!

I often feel that I’d benefit greatly if I had a life assistant. A person who would be regularly present, but not intrusive. First and foremost, this person would ensure I have everything I need before leaving the house and that I don’t leave anything behind wherever I go. They would run errands (returns, dry cleaning, dog wash), bake the banana bread I planned to make from the spotted bananas collecting fruit flies on the counter, create plans/reservations for family holiday fun, schedule a plumber, and put 20 basketball games on the family calendar. Then, find and send a sweet card to Grandma Chris for her December birthday. Once these morning task items are completed, I’d then provide the afternoon to-dos.

This assistant would most likely be female, because it would feel strange to have a male assistant taking notes while I shave my legs and rattle off a grocery list. I’d mention the upcoming cookie exchange and ask her to gather details from the 40-plus text chain I ignored. Where is it located? What time? How many cookies? I’d give her absolute freedom to choose the type of cookie and if she’s super efficient, she’d know to add the ingredients to the master shopping list. I’d certainly assemble the cookies myself, but I’m not known for my baking prowess, so she should probably just bake them as well.

My assistant would read my mind and know the future. She’d definitely know that there were no plans for dinner. So, while she was at the store, she’d pick up copious amounts of meats and potatoes for the 18-year-old, who will arrive home from basketball practice at 6 pm wild-eyed and absolutely ravenous.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d still cook and tidy. But definitely no laundry. With this said, my assistant must have a background in retail clothing sales because meticulously folding clothes will be a large part of the job. Also, she must enjoy cleaning out and wiping down the refrigerator from unidentifiable gelatinous spills, leftovers, expired items and rotting vegetables.

Reader, you may stop and ask… Sandy, why doesn’t the partner in your life (aka my husband) share in these responsibilities? If in person, I’d throw a shoe at your head because I know the answer and cannot reverse it. You see, I’m of the last generation where the traditional household responsibilities are completed by the wife while husband goes off to bring home the bacon. I was raised witnessing these gender roles between my mother and father—it was all I knew. It was what I thought a good and loving wife/mother should do.

Mom was a fantastic house wife. My three brothers and I had clothes that were clean and wrinkle-free, homemade delicious meals, an organized house, and regularly despised visits to the doctor and dentist. My father would come home from a long day as a carpenter and we’d curl up with him on the couch to watch some “Dukes of Hazard.” In no time, my mother would call us all for dinner. I do remember my dad humming with delight during those meals. He’d ensure we all knew how much love and effort my mother put into them. I never truly understood how long my mom’s days were… until I became a parent myself.

Ironically, the terms “housewife” or “stay-at-home mom” seem to carry a negative connotation. To make meals, clean house, and do all things domestic seem not to be enough. Without a career of one’s own, a woman (or man) is viewed to have acquiesced to the “old-school” traditional roles and expectations. When, in reality, a stay-at-home parent is an essential role in any household and is as critical to keeping the wheels on the bus as providing financial stability. I’m proud of what I do for my family. I have no shame in cooking, cleaning, scheduling or managing repairs. Unfortunately, it’s crappy pay for little appreciation. Which brings me back to why I would like an assistant.

I’ve considered the sister-wife lifestyle, but there would be a whole set of other issues attached. Lord knows I do not need more drama in my life. There are small windows of opportunities where I can have my teenagers help me out, but it must be the third Wednesday of the month and a full moon. I can’t keep track of birthdays, never mind the lunar calendar. I’ll request help with the smaller stuff when my husband gets home from his demanding job. He’ll happily oblige, but it’s a drop in the well compared to what needs done on a daily basis.

Since my current career as a writer allows me to work from anywhere, I now get to keep my former stay-at-home mom career AND fit writing into the domestic demands. Aren’t I lucky? Hence why I need an assistant.

Merry Christmas from the Hobans!