Not-So-Merry Kerrie Housewife

Major Messer of the Modern World is the title my mom bestowed upon me when I was a kid. Add to this my history of overachieving and desire to change the world and it becomes abundantly clear that being Merry Kerrie Housewife was not in my cards. Without being able to work and bringing home a paycheck, cleaning, gardening and cooking seem the only way to contribute to our household.

Doing at least one housewifely activity consistently seemed like an attainable goal. Cooking is a task that I enjoy, so making dinner regularly is naturally what I chose to do. (Getting back the not-so-good results of my cholesterol test in January gave me an extra push.) I felt like I was being realistic.

The reality is that I have no control over how much pain I’m in day-to-day or even hour-to-hour. If I plan and buy for a week’s worth of meals at once, I inevitably throw out the ingredients for at least one of them. If I plan day by day, which is really only three days a week because we always have leftovers, I’m lucky to make it to the store and have the energy to cook once each week. I’ve tried various permutations of these plans and still can’t figure it out.

When I do get dinner made, if my pain is in the moderate range — as it almost always is by mid-afternoon — I’m spent by the time we eat. Wiping down the counter is a stretch; doing dishes is an impossibility. Although Hart, who is totally exhausted too, is happy to help, I tell him to not worry about it because it’s my job.

To sum it up, I’m an overachiever who’s underachieving at a job that I’m so not suited for. I never get it all done, which nags at me constantly. I tell myself that it’s OK. I never intended to be a housewife, nor, in fact, am I one. I’m a woman with chronic illness who is coping the best she can. Too bad I don’t believe it.

I know how ridiculous it is to be angry with myself for being sick; I thought I was past that. But it’s perfectly normal to berate myself for not keeping up with housework? Hmm. Doesn’t take an analyst to see that I’m still blaming myself for my illness.