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Should I be a perfect wife?

AUTHOR fears sarcasm may stop her from being the ideal homemaker. But what's so wrong with being imperfect?

We all know that phrase 'nobody's perfect'. We say it with a shrug and a wry smile. We all agree that's true. Yet most of us still strive to achieve it.

Yet when it comes to being a wife, are modern women forgetting to be perfect?

In the 1940s and 1950s, wives were stereotypically chained to the kitchen sink and expected to giggle with delight at a new bottle of washing up liquid.

Meanwhile, their men wore perfectly starched shirts and were the breadwinners, and were also conditioned into believing that it was their wives' privilege to look after them.

Now, many women try to look after house and home, as well as holding down fabulous, if demanding, jobs. So the barriers for being a perfect wife have widened substantially.

Still, I cannot help but feel I've lost my way. What's happened to my desire to be the best wife possible?


Before the High Horse Brigade saddles up and canter towards me in an angry herd, let me shout 'wait!'

Because I'm not pointing any fingers and nor am I suggesting any other women are at fault here. I am shouldering the blame wholeheartedly.

I'm holding my hands up and hanging my head and willingly admitting, I am not a perfect wife.

Far from it, in fact. I'll be 15 years married this June, so I reckon it's about time I get my finger out and make more of an effort.

I've done some soul searching and Googled 1950s house wives for inspiration. I'd like to share my observations and resolutions with you, if I may.

So, first off, I need to know my priorities to become a perfect wife.

Over the last number of years I've been unspeakably selfish.

I've been juggling my role of perfect wife with a desire to build a career.

I started being an author with no regard for my primary role as chief clothes washer and ironer. Uncaringly, I often allow the washing to build up in favour of writing books.

It gets worse. I've had the audacity to have cancer eight times. The chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries had a tendency to eat into the quality of my vacuuming skills.

My attitude has slipped, too. I have an awful habit of speaking out of turn to my husband and children. When they ask simple questions like: "where are my shoes" or "where's my phone?" I've been known to answer in a rather caustic manner with something along of the lines of, "where ever you left it" or worse still, "do I look like Sherlock Holmes?"

Clearly this isn't perfect wife behaviour and will have to stop.

I need to address my jaded feelings towards cooking, too. I got off to a promising start by training to be a chef as soon as I left school. But since then I've dropped the ball many times. When my husband lies on the sofa, 15 minutes after his dinner and asks if there are any nice biscuits or crisps, I should step up to the plate (excuse the pun). Belting him with a cushion and telling him he's not quadriplegic is wrong of me.

Meal times are often fractious chez nous. Again, all my fault. When the children frown and say: "We hate that, why can't we have pizza?"

I need to count to 10 in my head and realise that it's not their fault I was working all day. They didn't ask to be born and if they want junk food instead of the nourishing meal I've prepared, then that's what they should have.



My wardrobe needs attention, too. In spite of all shopping I do, I still manage to dress like a colour-blind vagrant when I'm in my house. I need to realise that the comfort of my own home does not mean I should let my standards slip.

I must make an effort to refrain from slobbing around in trackie bottoms Ugg boots and hoodies. From now on I will wear my debs dress while cooking dinner, ball gowns while vacuuming and silken negligees while cleaning out the fire.

I will replenish my lipstick and spritz on a little cologne before my husband comes home from work. I'll ensure the children are happy and content as opposed to arguing and threatening to maim one another.

Never again will I explode and shout loudly that nobody appreciates me or bothers to lift a finger to help. I'll hum as I change the empty toilet roll, again. I'll sing as I pluck dirty clothes from the bedroom floors. I'll learn to see myself as the laundry fairy and have a little private giggle as I put the washed and ironed clothes away.

I'm so excited about this new existence I have planned. I wonder what it's going to be like? I'll be living in the most perfect house with perfect children and a perfect husband ...

I'm just a teeny bit anxious that it might all go horribly wrong. What if I fail and a sarcastic comment escapes my lips? Will the world stop turning? Will my husband leave? Will my children hate me? Somehow I doubt it.

On second thoughts, I might just continue the way I am. I'm good at being imperfect.

Perfect Wives, by Emma Hannigan, is published by Hachette, price €8.99