At midnight on January 1, 1971, with fireworks set off to celebrate the start of the 1970’s at my parent’s house I faced life as a married girl with 2 babies. I took the "Pill" circumventing the priest's admonishments to avoid being a breeder like Mom.
Then in October 1971, we purchased a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house west of El Camino Real, in Mountain View, close to but not in Palo Alto. It was a fixer upper purchased by taking over payments with our savings. Owning our house meant a major economic and social mental rise up. We were somebodies, one of those who owned their home; never again to face a rent payment, only a 25 year monthly mortgage. We could change something in the house without a landlord's approval. A feeling of awe swept me every time I drove into the driveway.
house, we own our house!
I started updating the kitchen and bathrooms.
Reminiscent of our subdivision's
orchard past, an apricot tree survived in the front yard. Somehow it and a few
others scattered among the neighborhood managed to avoid the bulldozers during
development. Its annual golden fruit nuggets emphasized California's and the
Valley's bounty. I made apricot jam.
I kept a garden in the back yard where tomatoes overwhelmed me with their generosity after a little watering and hoeing. Life was good, the future bright. We settled in. Permanently I assumed but like most, we never saw the end of the mortgage.
When at home my husband was the
decision maker, handled the money, selected the house we bought and picked the
cars we drove. He always drove when we went someplace together and decided
where. I accepted his being in control, glad he was unlike my father. In return
I was a stay at home super mom and wife, kept the house spotless, made 3 meals
a day and even tailored two suits for him which he wore with pride. Even with a
husband, kids, a house and envy of friends, however, I still thought of myself
as a girl, a girl who had to grow up but hadn't.
Swamped with baby feeding, bathing
and diaper changing I could not get rid of the smell of urine and poo. The
hamper was always full as I used cloth diapers to save money. I pitied and
admired Mom and appreciated her more. At night I went to bed thinking of wash
and ironing undone, what to cook the next day and how dirty the house was even
with constant cleaning.
I lay in bed exhausted with hubby seeking my attention two to three times a week. When he did, I spread my legs, he hopped on, slipped it in and pumped up and down until he finished then rolled off leaving me to sleep on the wet spot. I experienced an orgasm about once a week but it was more like scratching an itch than sex. His taking me pleased me. While tired it was assuring I was fulfilling another part of my role, the good wife.
Standing naked before the mirror reviewing myself I concluded my full lips revealed teeth too large, my nose was too flat, my face was too long, my eyes too slanted, my skin was too dark and my long black hair had split ends and was too straight.
On the positive side even after 2
kids my body was no longer skinny, my breast nipples remained reddish, not dark
brown, my tummy didn’t have stretch marks and I still looked young and
attractive enough for hubby’s twice a week need.
While older and financially
responsible, he was immature in marriage. He worked hard but clung to old
unmarried friends. They were more
important than me and the kids it seemed. To him household duties were mowing
the lawn and playing patty cake in the evening after work. He never changed
“Number 2” diapers and rarely “Number 1’s”.
On the weekend, with friends, he watched sports on TV. Our house was a hangout. I was expected to cook for the gang and keep the refrigerator beer stocked as they watched the 49’s or Giants. He also often left to see a baseball or football game while I was stuck at home. Still I was happily married, no, I loved being married. He didn’t drive away to see other women like Dad and handed his paycheck to me for bank deposit which ensured our financial security. For these I overlooked his domestic immaturity.
During the day, when he was at work
or away with friends on the weekend, the house was my kingdom, the kids my
subjects. Our home, like my Tropicana Village bedroom, was my Camelot. His
employment and faithfulness were in exchange for my cleaning, cooking and baby
care, a good deal to me.