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June Cleaver I ain’t


June 28, 2011
By Robyn Near, Correspondent
Several times in the last few days I’ve heard a variety of men complain that their wives don’t cook or bake, particularly they don’t cook “like my mother used to.” Now ain’t that somethin’.

“My mother’s kitchen always smelled like baked bread (or cookies or meatloaf, blah blah blah).” Have men given any consideration to the idea that maybe their wives don’t cook because they’re tired of being compared to mama? One woman’s story is that she had to make chicken soup like his mother made — cook the chicken in a pot of water, remove the chicken, pour the water/broth over noodles and voila, chicken soup with chicken on the side. She tried adding leftover shredded chicken in the broth one time and was told she had RUINED the soup.

I blame June Cleaver for this. “Leave It To Beaver” was quite popular in the 50s and 60s, what with the Beaver’s brushes with trouble and the iconic middle class lifestyle, it was a hit even with the men. Who could resist a wife who was always impeccable in the dresses and high heels she wore around the house, which was always perfectly clean and neat and always a full course meal ready on the stove?

Women in the 40s, 50s and 60s, by and large, stayed home with their children. Not all of them of course, but perhaps many of those that did became proficient at cooking, cleaning and sewing. Once they had spoiled their darlings with home cooked meals and fresh desserts, they turned them loose into an economy where women needed to work in order to make ends meet.

For a lot of years we women have tried to do it all. We worked full or part time, came home and picked up the dirty clothes, threw a load in the washer, started supper, made the bed, vacuumed the carpets, swept the floor, checked dinner, washed and dried the dishes after, sat down for ten minutes, then went to bed and started all over the next day. And that’s before the kids came along.

However, after ten or twenty years of trying to be super woman and being compared to how mama used to do it, many of us have given up. I have had my share of boyfriends and husbands, current one excluded, who criticized my cooking because it wasn’t like his mother used to make. Fortunately my husband’s mother was not known for her cooking skills. I do cook and bake, and I’m pretty good at it if I do say so myself. Contrary to popular opinion, just because I spend many of my mealtimes at Meeder’s doesn’t mean I am unable to put a meal on the table myself. It just means I simply haven’t the time.


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