June Cleaver…I am thou

June Cleaver has long been held as the standard for womanly perfection. She cooked, she cleaned, she played bridge and she did it all with a smile, pearls, heels and a cute apron. She entertained and dealt with the children. She always knew the right thing to say and she always said the right thing at the right time.

But then again she had script writers who knew just the perfect thing to say and do and when the perfect time to say and do the perfect thing really was.

I am not quite so blessed. And really I’m not jealous. It would be easier to go through life with script writers telling me exactly what to say and when to say it; but I tend to balk when anyone tries to tell me exactly what to say and when to say it.

I’ve often heard “I just can’t compete with June Cleaver” as if we had to. I know she was the paragon of the virtuous housewife of the 1950s. I am not sure just who set her as the standard or how she arrived at that level but honestly, even June Cleaver can’t compete with June Cleaver today.

You see, June might have been a wonderful cook but she didn’t have Food Network or the Cooking Channel, much less her own show on those networks.

When June made her Easter/Thanksgiving/Christmas dinners she put the main dish in the oven and left it alone. There wasn’t an aisle full of magazines telling her how to get her ham or turkey done to perfection with just the perfect amount of golden brown skin and juicy meat that would melt in your mouth.

While her table was beautifully set, the napkins weren’t folded like origami flamingos. She probably couldn’t have done it anyway. What with taking care of Wally and the Beav, much less Ward.

I am almost positive June makes Martha Stewart cringe. I mean there is simple and there is Martha’s idea of simple.

Simple really is, I suppose, rather objective. What I might think of as “simple” someone else might think is backwoods and backwards. While their idea of “simple” to me could be simply elegant.

What I like about June is she didn’t, as my family was fond of saying, “put on airs”. She didn’t think she had to be the “hostess with the mostest”.

Her house was clean but it wasn’t cleaned with chemicals. Her floors were clean, either by vacuuming or sweeping/mopping but her vacuum wasn’t sold to her because it “got all the ground in dirt up”.  I doubt she spent hours a day cleaning her house.

Shoot, she probably didn’t shower or do laundry every day either. I know you’re thinking “why that dirty smelly woman!” But think about it.

Why are Americans so driven to have everything cleaner than clean? We have aisle after aisle in any grocery store or Target and Wal-Mart filled with cleaning supplies. Each one promising to make your house not only look clean but be cleaner than the cleaner right next to it could possibly make it.

We have automatic dishwashers, (in June’s time they were called children, I’m almost sure of that), washing machines, clothes dryers and microwave ovens. And the American woman still spends the majority of her time cleaning. Why is that?

Why can’t we just say “enough is more than enough” and go back to a simpler time? Back when maybe you didn’t have as many clothes and you wore the ones you had more than once before tossing it in the laundry?  What if we went back to a time when we realized our bodies don’t necessarily need to be scoured every day and neither does our hair.

Speaking of bodies, why does everything we use to cleanse the dirt and grime from our bodies (and really how many of us truly have dirt and grime on our bodies that are showered everyday?) have to be “antibacterial“?  The bodies first line of defense is our skin.  We have good bacteria whose sole job is to fight off bad bacteria we might come in contact with.  Using antibacterial hand sanitizers don’t help us prevent getting sick, they encourage the sickness. You see when we use antibacterial soaps we rid our skin of all bacteria, good and bad. Without the good bacteria, the bad bacteria is allowed to have a party and invite all kinds of friends.

I do see a time and place though for using antibacterial, and we do use it in our house. But incredibly sparingly. We don’t use it for instance after using a public restroom. Where is the brains in that? True you have no idea if the person exiting the room before you washed their hands or not, so we pop out the antibacterial sanitizer and then go touch things a million fifty other people touched . We open ourselves up to more germs than we could get from the door knob of a bathroom. (and incidentally the most germ infested area in any public restroom is NOT the door knob or toilet. It’s the sink. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wash up.)

When I think about June Cleaver, I realize she was a woman just like I am. She had her hopes and dreams, she loved her man and her family. Just like me. She strove to provide a happy home for those and be a welcoming hostess who set her guests at ease, not by wowing them with her great prowess in the kitchen or her killer decorating style. But by embracing them and caring about their thoughts.

She knew the necessity of having time for herself and being there for her family and friends. She knew balance. The balance that says “I’d rather have you be comfortable here than compete with an impossible standard that would require professionals.”

I don’t have a decorating show on HGTV, and I don’t have a cooking show on any of the plethora of cooking channels. I will never compete on Top Chef. I won’t be seen on Design Star. I am not Rachael Ray, nor Martha Stewart. I certainly am no Ty Pennington.

And really I don’t want to be. I appreciate what I can learn from each one, but really I can’t compete with them and I am not even going to try. Not because I have no hope of winning, but because I am not a professional.

But I do know what I like and what my family likes. My family likes the fact that I don’t sweep my floor every day. I don’t vacuum 7 days a week. I don’t wash walls every month, or sweep for cobwebs. Shoot I barely sweep the cobwebs when I see them.

I have more important things to do. Things like spending time with my family relaxing, playing games, reading or watching football.  Things like taking a walk and marveling at God’s creation. Things like not stressing about my house not being perfect enough for entertaining friends.

So if you should desire to come visit me, the door is always open. You might need to watch out for cobwebs and if they bother you I’ll show you where the broom is kept so you can take care of them.   If you should desire, however to see my house, you should probably make an appointment and I’ll have the floors swept and mopped, I’ll have vacuumed and the bathroom will be spotless, you’ll see your reflection in the kitchen sink. My house will smell like chemical cleaners to prove I’ve been a busy beaver for your visit.

I’ll be an exhausted, stressed out grump too.

I believe forewarned is forearmed.



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