I watched Leave It to Beaver through the first runs, no TV Land for me. At the time, I saw nothing wrong with June Cleaver’s immaculate appearance each episode. After all, my own mother got up every day, put on make-up and styled her short hair. She never donned a pair of blue jeans, or wore flip flops or tennis shoes. Although she didn’t parade around the neighborhood with a string of pearls around her neck, she always dressed nicely. I don’t know if that’s just the way women presented themselves in public back then, or if it had more to do with the limitations of my mother’s wardrobe.
As a woman working outside of the home, I’d skim out of panty hose and bra the moment the front door closed behind me. As I pulled off my bra, I pulled on a t-shirt. I never owned any cute tops to wear around the house. Even in my slimmest days, I preferred shorts or pants with elastic around the waist. During the school year, my after work attire consisted of either the one pair of Levi’s I owned, cotton shorts from Wal-Mart, or sweat pants. The money I spent on clothing went to my work wardrobe. I rarely spent anything beyond the minimum to clothe myself for summers and after work.
During this summer, I relied upon my old standbys. Most of my shorts and t-shirts date back four or five years. I figure I’ll get one more summer out of them. As the temperatures have dropped, I’ve rummaged through the closet and the old toy chest that rests at the foot of our bed. I have sweat pants that are obscenely faded and ragged, or I have my old “business casual” wardrobe from work—there is nothing in between.
“You look like June Cleaver,” David commented the other day when he returned from work.
I glanced in the mirror in disbelief. I wore brown tailored pants and a very nice print top. Without thinking, I’d pulled out the earrings and necklace I’d always worn with the outfit. The drill of throwing on at least a little mascara, blush, and lipstick remains part of my morning routine, and my new short haircut always looks “spiffy.”
I laughed at David’s comment, but realized that I have stepped into the hausfrau role effortlessly. And, if I have to be compared to a TV mom, I’d rather it be June Cleaver than Rosanne!
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman