Friday, May 20, 2011

The unhomely house

I'm on vacation at my parents' house, which means my parents spend the day at work while I stay home. In the suburbs, there is virtually nothing I can walk to. I've crocheted two bath mats in the last two days. It's seriously boring around here.

The house is like a parody of a home. Now that all my grandparents have died, their furniture has come to roost in my parents' house. The house is full of furniture, only a few pieces of which are regularly used. The nearly-unused furniture includes five dressers, four desks, two kitchen tables, two sofas, two armchairs, and two enormous china cabinets full of china they never use because they never have people over because the house is too messy. The amount of house they actually use could fit into the studio apartment where Jeff and I used to live.

The house, designed for four or more inhabitants, has barely two. My sister and I are gone, and my parents spend their days working and sleeping. Not much eating and even less cooking goes on. The kitchen, which used to be stocked with actual ingredients, now contains mostly foods that are ready to unwrap or thaw. Last night I spent almost as long trying to find ingredients as I did actually cooking - there were plenty of individually-wrapped frozen tilapia fillets, but no pasta. Totally weird.

My dad always worked too many hours, but now Mom is doing it too. (As a preschool teacher! It's really unclear what needs doing in a preschool classroom for four hours after the children have left.) Dad hasn't cooked in twenty-eight years, so he comes home and crankily waits for Mom to come home and thaw him something. When I visit, I'm praised for anything I cook (partly, I suspect, as a backwards criticism to Mom). Today when I picked Dad up from work, the receptionist asked if I was "the French toast daughter." Apparently my dad finds my making French toast important enough to tell everyone at his office about.

I know my instinct to blame Mom for everything is sexist. Mom has mostly stopped doing the cooking, sewing, gardening, canning, etc. that she once did, but Dad never did those things. If he wants dinner before 11 pm, he could thaw it himself.

Ugh, though.

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