Behold the unfortunate-looking symbol of one modern woman’s struggle to reconcile her inner feminist with her outer stay-at-home-momishness. This plant somehow managed to sit on our kitchen windowsill looking like a bomb casualty for almost a year. When I was working, I delegated “plant care” to Max in an attempt to chip away at the mountain of household responsibilities that sat on my shoulders. While he did consistently water the plants each week (good job sweetie!), this orchid’s journey from “thing of beauty” to, well, “thing,” began under his tutelage. However, that is no excuse for my behavior. I let this poor, busted bloom become a victim of my identity crisis.
When I left my job, Max pointed out, and I agreed, that I should become fully responsible for the household duties that we used to share, including plant care. It was a totally fair request since he would continue to slave away at work to fund my shopping, personal trainer, botox and bon bons.* However there was something about being completely in charge of a long list of mundane tasks at home that made me cringe. I feared that if I completed the list each week, and completed it well, I would morph into a soulless 1950’s zombie housewife. My only aspiration would be making sure the ladies of my bridge club would be able to see their beehives reflecting off of my perfectly polished silver, and I’d have a nervous breakdown if they couldn’t. So I waged a slow and quiet rebellion against the Feminine Mystique that threatened to invade my identity: I refused to fix the orchid situation, GASP!
For a while, I continued to water it but stopped short of actually separating out the orgy of plant species that so wrongly cohabitated in one pot. My lame effort to stink at plant care led to the realization that if I wanted to be the real deal I needed to smash that potted mess to pieces all over the kitchen floor. I’d show the world that I am a member of the free-thinking, graduate-degree-holding, badass womyn’s club. Ugh, but if I did that then I’d have to bend over with a dust pan to clean it all up and that would suck. So I said screw it and just decided to ignore the plant altogether. No pruning, no watering, no love. By neglecting this one plant, I was failing to completely fulfill my housewifely duties and could therefore hold on to my identity as a strong, successful, educated woman. And so, this now brown, ugly plant stood on the windowsill for visitors and passersby to see as a testament to my feminist chutzpa.
Until, one day, I realized two things. First, taking on all the household duties was not an affront to my feminist predecessors. Creating a fulfilling life, which for me will include a period of exclusive family focus (and the household duties that come with it) bookended by years of career focus is, in my opinion, living out the life of choice for which these feminists fought so hard. The second and clearly more profound realization was that I was a moron and all this dead plant did was make me look like a dirty slob. So I threw it in the trash and bought a shiny new fittonia plant at Home Depot. Isn’t it pretty?
*No, I am not serious.