I just had a moment of awakening while chopping onions.
As a child, I was enchanted by white onions; they always looked so perfectly oniony. Almost manufactured. But my mother only ever bought yellow onions. Or, if we were having hamburgers, red onions. I don't know what she had against white onions. Maybe to her they looked too oniony. Who knows.
My mom might have made the onion-decision without noticing, just like she ironed without noticing.
When I was eight, my family moved from a rambler to a two-and-a-half-story condo. (The "half" was a loft which we treated like a third bedroom.) The master bedroom and the big family room were on the second floor, and the washing machine and dryer were in the garage, underground. The process of doing laundry used to go like this: someone (usually my mother) would haul all of the dirty clothes from the big hamper in the master bedroom down two flights of stairs to be washed and dried. Then she'd haul it all up two flights of stairs to be sorted in the family room. The clothes in the "to be ironed" pile would then go back down one flight, to the kitchen, where my mom would set up the ironing board.
And because all of the "to be ironed" clothes belonged to my parents, they would make one final trip up the stairs to the master bedroom to be put away.
My mother did this for years before it dawned on her that she was ironing in the kitchen because (and only because) her mother had always ironed in the kitchen. She started ironing upstairs after that.
Shortly after Rob and I moved into our first home, I caught myself ironing in the kitchen one day. I promptly called my mother and we had a good laugh about it.
But it wasn't until last night, as I stood in my kitchen—not ironing but chopping onions—that it dawned on me: I am the homemaker in this home.
(I have trouble with the word homemaker. I had to fill out a form for Westley's preschool on which I ended up checking the box next to "Full-time homemaker." I recoil a little whenever my "employment status" comes up. Because it's so cliche, and anti-feminist, and I can't help but feel guilty—like I'm wasting my very good, very expensive education by spending the day cooking and cleaning.)
Many of the little "rules" I have about how to do this job of mine come from...well, I have no idea. Except that my mother always bought yellow onions, so obviously, those are the onions to use.
But I had bought white onions for homemade salsa, and didn't end up using all of them. So when I went to make last night's dinner and needed an onion, that's what there was. Then I'm standing at my cutting board, chopping up this perfectly oniony, manufactured-looking white onion and feeling vaguely transgressive...
...except that this is my house, and we don't have any rules about onions.