Thursday, March 18, 2010

But You Don't Work

What do you do all day? I’d be bored. Have you ever heard stuff like that? If you are a housewife, I bet you have.

I was a young girl growing up in the Cinderella Homes when I had dreams of being a housewife, just like my Mother. She was always home, well dressed, hairdo perfect, always had lipstick on, her clothes were ironed, her shoes & purse always matched, always had tissues, kept a clean home, threw fabulous parties for my Dad’s business associates, came to all my school and sporting events, had warm, homemade cookies when I walked in the door from school, taught me how to sew, and always let me have all my friends over to swim. I’m not good at cleaning, but that’s not my Mom’s fault; it’s just that I don’t enjoy it. I will always choose something I find fun to do over cleaning. Thus the continued state of my house, garage and the Pigmobile.

When our children were small, and I got to quit working, it was cause for celebration. When I sobered up, I decided if I was going to be a proper housewife, I was also going to be a really good housewife like my Mother. That doesn’t mean the stereotypical type housewife we saw portrayed in the sitcoms we saw in the 60’s, the Harriet Nelson and Donna Reed types. No, I had different ideas. I had my eye set on being the best wife, raising my children to be the best people they could be, learning how to cook, bake, open a bottle (or 3) of wine, and learning how to love and coexist with dogs like my darling Mother-in-law. Check, check, check, check, check and yes, check! Hooray!

But I don’t work!

My Mother never sat down, never watched TV, never went to a spa, never went to the mall, the movies or off for the weekend with her friends. My Dad had to beg her to shop for clothes if they had to go on a business trip. She also refused a housekeeper. Refused! She didn’t indulge in manicures, pedicures, waxing, plastic surgery or Botox. She saved up all the left over money my Dad gave her weekly for running the house to pay for stuff us kids needed, or we drove her crazy begging for. I was famous for wanting to go to every summer camp known to man. I also wanted her to buy me tons of books, because I was obsessed with reading. I would tell her it was all her fault from reading to me so much. Her response was to drop me off at the Placentia Library and let me stay there as long as I wanted.

My Mom made the dresses my sister and I wore and if she found a pattern that fit us well, she made the same dress in every color. When we traveled to Europe for 6 weeks in the summer of 1970 with The Turman family, my Mother packed for us five Jessup’s in 2 hard Samsonite suitcases. I was inspired.

The Cinderella homes on Cedarlawn Drive were meticulous. My Dad took great pride in his Dichondra lawn. He’d drive around and lament the lawns and curse the owners that weren’t maintained to his high standards. He once went around the corner and asked a widow whose house was seen as people approached ours, if he could maintain her yard since she wouldn’t, or couldn’t.

The homes were beautiful on the inside as well. My friend Scott still has the original brochures with the floor plans because his childhood home is also on Cedarlawn Drive. Our Mom’s raked the shag, vacuumed designs into the carpets, kept the pools pristine, polished the Formica countertops and somehow caught dust before it landed.

Most of the Dad’s worked in aerospace, for two local companies called Autonetics and Hughes Aircraft. I loved watching the Dad’s drive up in the evenings at 5:00 while us kids would be playing Kick the Can and Hide-N-Go-Seek. Most of the Mom’s were housewives, and at 5:00 p.m. were busy in the house making dinner or cleaning their Cinderella House. One of my friends had a Mom who worked and she went home to an empty house everyday. I always felt bad about that when I was going home to fresh baked cookies and a Mother who would always sit down and give me her undivided attention.

I don’t keep a clean house, garage or car like my parents did on Cedarlawn Drive. But, I take great pride in how I care for my husband, how I’ve given my children tons of undivided attention, bake them cookies, go to all their school and sporting events, and that I let them have all their friends over to swim & play. I’ve been Class Mom, Team Mom and a Carpool driver.

I’ve been teaching myself how to cook, to bake, and sometimes I clean (mostly I don’t). I love having parties. Sometimes I iron my clothes, but I usually just shake’em out and hang them to dry. I’ve learned how to quilt, and love to sew but I don’t mend much. The children were so afraid of my mending pile they would beg to have Grandma fix their clothes… so they’d get them back. I’m still working on the tissue in the purse thing; the kids know to go to Grandma if they need to wipe their noses on something other than Mommie’s sleeve. My hair is only perfect every other Friday when I have it colored by Carrie, colorist extraordinaire. Sometimes I put makeup on. Mostly, I like to wear my hair in a ponytail and cruise around HQ and the Downstairs Office in my Nappies sans Clinique. I never, ever go without perfume though, ever. My Mother had her lipstick thing. I have a perfume addiction. And my Dooney thing.

I take my job seriously, and so does my Boss. But, I have job security and scheduling flexibility to accommodate my husband and children so it’s the best job in the world. Yes, there are some parts of my job that are boring and tedious. Some aspects are stressful. I have great benefits. The pay? Did you say pay?

The pay comes in hugs and love. It came in the faces of my children each time they crossed the finish lines, made Honor Roll, and got acceptance letters to colleges. I got paid when I watched my children helping poor people when they worked in the hot sun for a week each summer repairing their homes. I got paid watching them run to greet their Daddy every night when he came home from work. I was paid every night when we sat down to the family dinner he demanded, no matter what time it came. Pay comes when your family needs you to find something in the refrigerator, a missing sock, or the permission slip. It comes with every Bandage applied and every goodnight kiss. It also comes when a bunch of smelly kids get into your car after practice and are all talking at once. That is my heaven.

I wouldn’t trade my work for anything.

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” -Abraham Lincoln


  1. Love it Jodes - that took me back to - let's see - right around 1968! You have a real talent for writing. No more girl Never Ever - now you are Girl Blogger/Writer Extraordinaire!

  2. LOL, I had no idea just how inovative Cinderella homes were back then. My favorite feature it the light switches that have lights in them so you can find them in the dark. Those homes also came with "Cinderella" wallpaper and those huge cut glass knobs on the double front doors. My mom hated the open kitchen concept, funny how both out families added on creating a "great room" before it was the trend. Oh, and...we had those twindoo dog leg swimming pools.

    So wierd how times have changed. My dad worked just a few miles away from home and came home for lunch. My mom would make grilled cheese sandwiches, YUM! Yikes, I could go on forever...

  3. My father was the architect who built the Cinderella Homes. I sent him your blog which I'm sure he will enjoy. For some pictures see:

    and there's also the story of the VanDruff Homes" in the autobiography.

    The shake-shingle roofs are no more, but open kitchens won the day.

    Dean VanDruff

  4. My son, Dean, just sent me your interesting blog ... about the Royal Cinderella Home that you lived in. I designed and built over 1,100 homes, but only 255 Royal Cinderella Homes. We really did put our hearts into those homes, and my philosophy was to always build every home as if I was going to move into it myself. My homes were always “open” for maximum togetherness and communications. I didn’t want husbands coming home from work and still not being with their wives. Though she was in the kitchen, I wanted her to be “in touch with” everything that was going on. People loved our homes, lived in them far longer than other homes, and divorces were almost non-existent. I’m glad to know that the Cinderella Home on Cedarlawn brought happiness to you and your family. Incidentally, those double-wide entry doors were each 42” wide, and the beautiful custom made handles on the two doors were cut-crystal. I am now 88 and still very active. If interested, my autobiography is at Thanks for expressing yourself in such a delightful way. God bless you richly in every aspect of your life and those dear to you. Jean Vandruff

  5. How awesome you heard from the Vandruffs! I thought I would embellish my previous post after discussing Royal Cinderella Homes again yesterday. While my mom was not fond of the open kitchen concept she grew fond of it in years to come. She also LOVED that the stove was a lower counter hieght than the rest of the kitchen as she stands just 5'2". She didn't have to lift the heavy pots and pans as high and easier for her to see what's cooking. When my dad bought the home brand new, I'm sure when he picked WHITE wall to wall carpet all the way up to the 42" double doors with cut-crysal knobs, he didn't know he would have an instant family in less than two years. It wore well but was preplaced by multi-colored shag in 1967, LOL. It wasn't intil eight years or so ago my family realized just how innovative the homes were. After my dad had a stroke and was using a wheelchair for mobility, the wide hallways, open concept and single level design proved invaluable. My dad was able to continue living in the home he bought brand new and raised his family. After discussing the recent correspondence with Mom the historian, she mentioned Shannon Vandruff attended the church in Southgate where my parents grew up.