Did you know that Mad Men is now on Netflix? We don’t have cable so this was a big deal. Mad Men! Oh my gosh! But … we’re about half way through the first season and I’m starting to have issues. Not with the story line or with the acting, all of that is phenomenal. The styling had me run out and buy hot rollers. The set design has me lusting after mod furniture. The whole show is beautiful.
But it’s making me self-conscious.
Wife. I am a wife, I have a husband. I like this. I got married because I wanted to, and I’m totally cool with the titles because in our house they don’t mean “superior and inferior.” Nor do they mean, “Look what I have! ha! ha! I’m going to say husband a hundred times during my day just to make it clear that I HAVE ONE.” Oh barf. Yesterday, while shopping, the sales lady made a joke about Kamel holding the douzens of dresses I was aiming to try on for a wedding this coming weekend (because he was holding all of my dresses and following me around the store), and she called him my boyfriend. I didn’t correct her. Because that would be ridiculous! Kamel turned to me and said, “Hey. You have a boyyyy friend.” Because we’re mature.
But Mad Men makes it so intensely clear how family dynamics functioned only 50 years ago. The kids in the show could be my parents today. Same time frame, same little suburban life. And wives? Wives are necessary accessories. Obviously, the show is an extreme. I’m sure that not every man slept with everything that walked in heels and still made it home for dinner. But ugh. It makes me feel bad. It makes me want to never use the word wife ever again, it makes me mad at Kamel for being a husband (totally irrationally), it makes me feel icky that I put myself in a roll that used to limit women.
I know, in a way, that this is silly. This is 2011, Kamel is not expecting his dinner ready when he walks in the door. But I do make dinner. We care about each other’s careers equally, we are modern and in some ways unconventional. But watching Mad Men and being reminded of how it was, makes me think that’s how it could be. And maybe that’s not giving Kamel enough credit, but sometimes I worry that we’re all victims to social expectations and traditions. Somehow they seep in when we’re not looking. Knowing that some of these family traditions and values are still alive and well makes me want NONE of them. I don’t want my family to resemble anything like the little house, with the little dog, and the even number of children, and the nice yard, and the neighbors you wave to, and the husband that only kind of knows you, and only kind of knows the kids (but more as an idea than as humans with thoughts and desires).
But then, sometimes I do want some of those things. Like the house. And the kids. The neighbors might be nice, but I could take em or leave em. And now I no longer know where this post is going. Mad Men. It’s making me crazy. And I have no solution to my anxiety on this. Being a wife is nothing like being the edgy lady living with my husband to be, thumbing my nose at the squares who say I shouldn’t. Now I’m living within societal constraints, playing right into their hands. And now I’m even dreaming of a house with the 3 bedrooms, choosing to use our travel money for a down payment, and a really great kitchen. What?! Part of me is stoked, and then another part of me is totally disgusted.