The sick fantasies of a stay-at-home mom
Special to Stars and Stripes April 1, 2022
For many years while my Navy husband, Francis, was on active duty, I was a frustrated housewife. I was fulfilled by my role as nurturer of our family, but I must confess, I had a dark, bitter side that fantasized about a different life.
These were not normal fantasies about being a rich socialite or a world-renowned author or a supermodel. These were “sick” fantasies.
It all started when I realized that there was no end in sight. No end to dirty socks, crumbs, dog hair, car pools, homework, soap scum, grocery shopping. My daily tasks as a military spouse and mother of three were not only completely devoid of mental stimulation, they were never done … never.
No sooner would I wipe a glob of toothpaste from inside the kids’ sink, when another one would appear. Dust particles descended stealthily through the air every second of the day, making a mockery of my weekly furniture polishing. I swore the dirty laundry was breeding in its baskets just to spite me. If I had a nickel for every time I thought the house was clean, and then watched a tumbleweed of dog hair blow across the floor, I’d be that rich socialite.
I realized that I was on a never-ending treadmill of mind-numbingly boring and mundane daily chores. Even vacations didn’t bring relief because our family trips were a lot of work. “Sheesh, I need a vacation from our vacation,” I’d say to myself afterward.
Then one day, most likely while wiping spaghetti sauce splatter off the inside of the microwave for the umpteenth time, my mind began to wander. Somewhere in the dark recesses of my brain, a wicked thought was hatched.
What if, just what if, I sustained some kind of non-life-threatening injury or illness that would require me to be in the hospital, or at least in bed, for a couple of weeks? My eyes widened at the exciting thought of mandatory bed rest, three squares a day, and my family forced to fend for itself.
But, what kind of non-life-threatening injury or illness? Perhaps a large can of tomato sauce could fall from the pantry, striking me in the head and causing amnesia for which I would need close monitoring in the hospital? Nah, too far-fetched. Maybe I could trip on one of the kids’ scooters in the driveway and break a hip? Nah, too painful. What if I got a bad batch of wrinkle cream from the drug store and my skin fell off? Nah, too disfiguring.
This little “what if” game became its own welcome escape from my daily grind. I had fun trying to come up with the perfect fantasy involving temporary injury, paralysis, illness or disease — Oh, what a treat! — that might grant me a brief reprieve from the endless monotony of my responsibilities as a military wife and mother.
Now, our young adult children are on their own or in college, and as an empty nester, my need to escape endless housework is not as urgent as it was when they were under our roof. Sure, there are still many days when I’d rather chew my own arm off than empty the dishwasher again. However, life is just not as challenging as it used to be. But as my luck would have it, my ultimate fantasy refused to become a reality until last week, when I checked into the hospital for scheduled foot surgery.
I had always envisioned an overnight hospital stay, but I was home from my outpatient surgery by mid-afternoon. It was sweet that the kids came to the house to check on me, but that also meant more mouths to feed. Francis had promised to handle dinner, but by 6:30 p.m. that night, I was calling for takeout. After a few days of trying to live out a disappointing version of my carefully curated dream, I eventually gave up and got back to my daily grind, with the assistance of a clunky splint boot that screams, “I had bunion surgery!”
I still have hope that my sick fantasies will come true one day. A girl can dream.
Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com, and in Lisa’s book, The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org