Monday, January 12, 2009

Dona da Casa and the Coward

I started this editorial years ago - fully intending to send it to some magazine -but then chickened out. I found it in the archives, dusted it off, changed a couple things ... and I'm still chicken. Instead, I'll let you guys read a shortened version for FREE. (Aren't you lucky?!)

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I am a Dona de Casa.

And you don’t have to know Portuguese to gather my occupation. I am Lord of the House. Master of my Domain. The Woman, if you will.

I like this much better than the conventional term “housewife.” For one thing, the construction of this detestable word is reversed. I am not the house’s possession – I do not answer to it, nor do I owe it any obligation whatsoever. Rather, it answers to me.

I also like that I am the Dona. Not the mulher (woman) or the esposa (wife). The Dona. The very word conjures up images of Spanish Dons conquering the frontiers unknown. Strong, fearless and powerful. The Dona. The Queen.

May I get that on a business card?

I hate it when people ask what I do. I often change my answer; sometimes I’m a “stay-at-home mom,” sometimes a “homemaker.” And then I inevitably get the slight raising of the eyebrows and a flash of pity across the forehead. And worst of all, the ahhhh/head nod. That’s the worst. I can just hear their thoughts, “So you don’t do anything, is that right?” Silence follows. It’s not as if I’m an accountant or a secretary or a Peace Corps ambassador. There aren’t any natural follow-up questions. “Which company do you work for?” Little Prince, Ouro Branco, and Mr. Squishy Inc. “How long have you worked there?” Four and a half years already. “Do you meet with many clients?” Yes, we have playgroups. “How did you get started there?” That’s not a topic I generally discuss.

One of the reasons I skipped my high school reunion was to avoid the “and what do you do?” question. I didn’t want to meet up with my old cronies, sans stretch marks, and hear about their fabulous singleton lives. Why on earth would they want to listen to me babble about Ouro Branco’s eating capabilities when they’re traveling the world?

But here’s the thing. I love what I do. Really. Truly. Love what I do. There is no way on earth I would give up full-time mommyship. So why don’t I shout it from the mountaintops?

Because the mountaintops don’t share in my joy.

When you got an ‘A’ on that killer math test, your mom hung it on the fridge. When your soccer team made it to regionals, the whole town turned out to watch and the local paper featured the game. When you tackled the most complicated project at work, you got your face tacked up under “Employee of the Month.”

Everyone needs praise.

Experiencing ecstatic joy with my sons is akin to Mr. Squishy recently trying to eat a beach ball. It just doesn’t fit inside; I have to share it. And then the ensuing frustration when nobody cares. Indeed – what I get is not mutual happiness, but pity and commiserations.

If all the world celebrated and appreciated we Donas de Casa, life would be a different story. No one would be safe from daily updates on Da Boyz. If just once someone answered, “Oh, wow! A housewife! I’ve always wanted to do that. What’s it like?” I’d give them an earful and such a sales pitch they’d quit their job and procreate right away.

Because I do feel like a queen. I may only have three subjects, but they adore and revere me like no magistrate ever was. When I wake up in the morning, the only thing I want to do is cultivate and beautify my little kingdom. I enjoy my work - and it is work. Running my kingdom requires every ounce of physical energy, mental fortitude, and creative faculty I possess.

But however hard I love my kingdom, no one recognizes my municipality. It’s not that I want V.I.P. treatment or my own consulate or even a parade. I just want recognition that my kingdom exists. And I am not a lowly squire, I am its queen. Its Dona – capitalized.

17 comments:

Erin said...

That was beautiful! What a great writer you are.

Lady of Perpetual Chaos said...

Amen!

Becky said...

You go, girl! I love this. LOVE it! I am stay-at-home mom, hear me roar. I think that will be my new motto.

The Prices said...

Send it to a magazine...several!!! You are so incredibly talented, I'm not sure you realize. What's the worst that can happen? so what if they don't say yes (though I'm guessing someone would). You're awesome and all of us "stay at home moms" feel the same way you do.

Christa Jeanne said...

Brilliant, m'dear! Makes me want to quit this day job and procreate in a heartbeat. Well... I already had that goal, but this makes me want it MORE. You should definitely submit it for publication, lady!

Annette Lyon said...

This is just the kind of thing everyone needs--not just the Queens of the house (although them, too), but others who don't get it.

(DO send it somewhere. Now.)

Kristina P. said...

You definitely have it going on! This is a beautiful piece.

Abra said...

I love this! Thanks for sharing :)

Lara said...

Um, I know everyone already said it, but send this piece in immediately. It is WONDERFUL! I think we all feel that way, and yet the world just never seems to get it.

lizzy-loo said...

my daughter just turned seven, and it is the first year that when asked what she wanted to be when she grows up she didn't say a mom. i hope when they grow up they see how wonderful it is to have a mom who is there.

obrigada, dona da casa

Michelle said...

I also love it! Please get over your cowardice and send it to a magazine. I'm thinking Metro Parent back here in MI would be a great place to start. Small, local magazine, gets you over that first hump of fear.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Bien hecho, Dona. :)

LisAway said...

Hear hear! Very well put. I love on the I-can't-think-what-it's-called second DVD of The Incredibles where you see in the early drafts of the movie Brad Bird wanted to have a little part where Helen talks to a snooty business woman and gets in her face about how she decided that being a stay at home mom is more important then being a super hero. Have you seen it? If not, this probably doesn't make sense. It's pretty great, though.

Pezlady Jana said...

You HAVE to send this in! It is fab! Plus since I served a mission there, I totally get the language lingo and I loved it! You are the Dona, the queen! ROck on!!

Melanie J said...

How have I never seen your blog before? You said this far better than I could. I shall return...

Mel said...

I just came across your blog by accident, but I wanted to tell you that I am JEALOUS of your little kingdom, and I think it takes a lot of courage to be a homemaker or Dona de Casa. I would LOVE to be able to stay home with my babies.....God willing perhaps someday I will.....Keep up the good work, and yes, I know it's work.

God bless,

A new fan! - Melanie

Harmony said...

Oh my gosh, I just barely clicked on this post from the right side of your blog. Girl, you are so amazing! Seriously, the way you put sentences together; the way you describe life's scenarios; you really should try sending this in. Seriously, what have you got to lose? You'll never know unless you try... You are SO incredible in countless ways and I love you forever! Thanks for being my BFF (excuse the highschool texting lingo).