From the Vault: The Perfect Family

Every once in a while I’ll post something from my past. This is circa 2004.

We could settle into middle-aged sage – never questioning the roles. Wife kisses her husband at the door, and sends him off to work while she raises the children, watches soaps, gossips.

He pats his secretary’s ass when he walks in and asks for coffee – black. Hold is calls the afternoon, he tells her. She nods. He winks.

The older children scamper to school. The younger ones scamper at the woman’s feet as she experiments with a new pot roast receipt and makes a nail appointment on the phone, twisting the cord around her long pale fingers.

We live our lives superficially – never questioning why Saturday afternoons are given over to gardening and car washings. And Sundays are for football and golf. A stable family whose member never talk to one another. But they fill collection plate each Sunday morn so the church calls them model citizens.

Her pride centers around other people’s accomplishments. She is catty and brags to the neighbors about her husband’s promotion and her children’s unusual cleverness. “Suzie said her first word ‘crying,’ Melissa won an local award for her essay ‘The Fail of Family Life,’ Johnny got his first red card for fighting in a soccer match.

Yes, we’re the perfect, high-achieving family, she tells herself each night as she lays down. She pretends not to hear her husband talking softly on the phone, thinking she’s already asleep. The perfect family life involves a lot of blinders.

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