The Widow Gender Joke

A widow friend recently pointed out one of her current pet peeves is the occupation box on forms. She detests ticking houseWIFE. And I get it. So your husband pops his clogs and leaves you with two young children. It is not by choice that you’re now just a houseWIFE in life. You can’t get out the bloody house to be much else. And quite frankly you are not just a houseWIFE. You are an everything.
I saw some idiot journalist, step up Martin Daubney, on This Morning yesterday making the point that in a marriage men should do men jobs, car fixing and DIY, and women should do all the cleaning and cooking. He’s treated his wife to a cleaner, bless him, though. God forbid someone places the bereavement bomb under his life but I get the feeling his wife would cope much better if she were the one left behind. Car fixing and DIY isn’t going to get you far when you’ve got children and a house to run. But there’s the rub. There are no gender divisions in the life of a widow or widower. You are not completely a houseWIFE or the key breadwinner. You no longer fit the form. You are absolutely everything. You can’t say ‘you put out the bins once a week’ and ‘ I’ll be in charge of keeping the kids fed and watered.’ Or ‘you bring home the bacon’ and ‘I’ll be the school run mum’. You do it all. You feed the kids, you wake for them through the night, you care for them when they are ill, you do the food shop, you keep the car road taxed, you pay the mortgage, you file all the bills, you make massive life changing decisions on your own, you mow the lawn, you defrost the fridge…you, you, you.
In my house there were jobs that were most definitely Col’s. He did most of the finance and future financial planning and the insurance (thank God) but he also cooked and did his own ironing. I did much of the cleaning (well I organised the cleaner) and I did the DIY. We both worked so we worked out how to carve up getting our child into nursery of a morning. I hated the supermarket and he loved it. We were not traditional and I know few who are these days. I wanted to scream at the smug Martin Daubney as he filled my TV screen and my five minute tea break from Cbeebies with all this ‘Little Women’ stuff. Widowed men and women across the country unite in the face of such idiot TV fluff because we are pretty special, we transcend the gender divide. So scratch out the just houseWIFE box and put God/Goddess of All in its place, beside, simply Employed or Self-Employed add a parenthesis with Master/Mistress of Everything firmly placed inside, because that is what we are. From taking out the bins to bringing up children, we are amazing even though it’s pretty awful sometimes.

5 Replies to “The Widow Gender Joke”

  1. Tell me about it! All but my single-parent friends understand what I’m dealing with and I’ve been left either fuming or reduced to tears at the breathtaking unthinkingness of administrators and some married people. On the bright side, I’m two and a half years down the line now and feel a great sense of pride at how much my children and I have achieved, coped with and mastered – even young children can manage a bin bag, sort of!

  2. Here here to all of the above! Oh god just realised i have to put the bins out in this snow 😦 truly still can’t get to love that part of being on my own!

  3. Hi, I don’t have children, but I still have to do everything on my own. Can not keep getting others to assist, especially with general maintenance and gardening. But my pet hate when completing forms is Mr Miss and Mrs followed by Married or Widow.
    Totally different subject, if anyone can help. I have been on my own for just 10 months, I have recently actually stopped sobbing my heart out, I still have tears when something sets me of, but not sobbing. I have actually been feeling good now for a few weeks, but today very tearful realising that every day when I am happy my husband seems to slip further away. I know I have memories and photos, but remembering the voice, laughter and the day to day things we did together.
    This is so hard, especially with no friends and large family support unit to help. That famous saying people quote “You will miss me when I’m gone”. Its just so true and the pain and hurt that goes with it is unbearable. HUGS HUGS to all

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